let’s do something together apart

there’s an old couple i often see in my neighbourhood. they go for walks together a lot but they are always at least 20 ft apart. i don’t think i’ve ever seen them within what i consider a ‘normal’ couple range, and i don’t understand what the hell they’re doing. do they hate each other? does one simply walk faster or slower than the other? do they ever talk about why they do this, or how weird it is? why not go for walks on their own instead of perpetuating this twisted charade?

walking_too_fast_by_tomato39-d5fdody

it’s a grim day when a piece of shit like this is the best image i can find to illustrate my point. maybe i need to take a sabbatical.

i’m fascinated/horrified by this couple because i think they probably loathe each other’s company and only go for walks together out of some awful sense of obligation. i hope i’m wrong but if i had to bet on it, that’s what i’d put money on.

and just this last week, i saw something similar but even more sad. it was another old couple going for a walk far apart from each other, but the lady looked deathly ill — she was emaciated, frail, pale, and used a few canes to steady herself. it looked like she is probably dying of cancer, and not far from the end. she was trailing well behind her partner who appeared to have no time to wait for such a poor, wretched creature. he was up ahead and looked annoyed.

the first example bothers me but the second example REALLY bothers me. i know i can be a miserable bastard much of the time but i’m pretty confident i won’t ever walk a good 25 ft ahead of jenn, even if she is sick as fuck and i want to get the damn walk over with so i can get back to judge judy or whatever it is these old pricks are in such a hurry for. call me a dandy but i actually like walking with my wife. i even like holding her hand, despite her repeated protests.

call me a militant romantic, i suppose.

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no love

today i was thinking about why i like the exorcist so much. there are obviously a ton of good reasons — strong cast, excellent character development, amazing special effects, religious themes that resonate with me in a big way — but today i realized something else about it i hadn’t thought of before: no romantic subplot!

captain_howdy

except between me and captain howdy, of course.

i couldn’t believe i never noticed this before. i mean, romantic subplots are ubiquitous, and one of the things i hate most in film, TV, and books. nothing ruins a story for me quicker than a predictable, paint-by-numbers story arc: boy meets girl, they seem perfect together, a misunderstanding makes one doubt the other, the misunderstood one vindicates themselves, happily ever after. barf.

what’s even worse is that so many movies and TV shows actually focus largely on this kind of romantic subplot formula but use different story backgrounds so that they can market the show at a different audience. walking dead and true blood for horror fans, mad men for hipsters, breaking bad for skids, game of thrones and big bang theory for nerds…the list goes on. all these shows employ the same old “i thought i could trust you, tim..i thought you were different from the others. i guess i was wrong…” bullshit romantic melodrama, and it’s not just a small side story. that’s actually the focus of the show. the zombies, sword battles, and meth labs are actually the minor details in those shows. they just provide a seemingly unlikely stage where the romance can take place.

yup, everyone just wants to watch the same shitty love story over and over.

i’m veering way off topic onto one of my usual rants so let me rein it back in here. my point is that while most shows employ hackneyed romantic techniques not only for subplots but for primary plots, the exorcist doesn’t even contemplate romance at all. there is zero romance in it. it’s about other things: good, evil, faith, loss of faith. what a breath of fresh air.

but then i started thinking about some of my other favourite films, like the deer hunter, blade runner, the last temptation of christ, akira, the shining, princess mononoke, and apocalypse now, and i realized that there is very little romance in those too. and what romance there is, is far more complex and understated.

i’m not surprised that i prefer subtle, more interesting approaches to typical themes like romance but what i am surprised by is that i didn’t even notice until now that the greatest films of all time (in my opinion, anyway) would place so little emphasis on romance, if any at all.

that just reinforces my belief that romance for the sake of romance in art is just a cheap technique to sell shoddy products to disinterested audiences. i’m sure the same applies to every other medium, too.

people are so disappointing.

all that being said, i still really like love story from 1970. that was a touching flick.

love-story

it’s a guilty pleasure.

fair weather lover

i used to be a real fair weather lover/partner/boyfriend/spouse, whatever you want to call it. i would jump ship from a relationship at the first sign of difficulty. my routine was to start dating some chick, have a great time with them in the honeymoon phase, eventually run into some annoying minor disagreement with them, break it off, and then meet someone else and start the cycle all over again.

it took a long time before i realized that every relationship, no matter how good, has its own issues that require effort to work through. obviously not all of my girlfriends would have been suitable for the long haul — good grief, in some cases one of us would have wound up dead by now — but my point is that compromise is hard. swallowing your pride, admitting you’re wrong, and apologizing can be hard. accepting ‘sorry’ when someone else fucks up can be hard. and there are always going to be disagreements, stupid arguments, little things two people will butt heads over. i think it takes a lot of emotional strength and integrity to accept or work through all that stuff and maintain a healthy relationship.

but this is where it gets tricky. if i were not already with someone who is worth shutting my fucking mouth for occasionally, how would i know if someone else was worth it? say i was dating some chick and things were mostly good but she was kind of weird or bitchy or arrogant or whatever sometimes — would she be worth the effort to look past that stuff, or would it be futile and ultimately doomed? how would i know if or when to give up and pull the plug? how many and what kind of flaws would be acceptable? thinking about that kind of stuff makes me really grateful that i learned this lesson right around the time i met jenn. i can’t imagine the mental struggle of finding a good match who had a few serious flaws, someone who really straddled the suitable/unsuitable line, and left me paralyzed with indecision as to our future together.

fuck it, i guess it wouldn’t be that hard. i’d just dump em and find a partner that didn’t keep me second guessing them.

the good news is once you get to that face, it’s easy to keep going with it. cry faces are hideous.

i think the greatest achievers are often the most unlikeable weirdos

i have a theory. it started out in early 2007 when i became intimately acquainted with the rollins band album, ‘the end of silence.’

i was going through a difficult period of change (not like a sex change or anything, just personal growth) and that album suited my state of mind at the time really well. it spoke to me so clearly, it applied to me in such huge ways that i felt connected to henry rollins, like we shared some powerful core experience. i became really curious about henry rollins on a personal level and i checked out a number of his interviews, like this one with nardwuar, the human serviette.

and i realized, “jesus christ, hank rollins is an asshole. i wouldn’t want to hang out with him at all.” i was shocked! i couldn’t believe this man who had been instrumental in helping me through such a difficult time could be such a dickhead.

then i started thinking about some of my other favourite artists, like prince. i think prince is god-like. i firmly believe he is a michaelangelo or davinci of our lifetime, he is truly a living legend. but same thing, he’s a fucking dink. he’s so esoteric and smug and pretentious. and the same goes for a lot of other great artists who are geniuses but really fucking unlikeable in a great variety of ways — sting, mike patton, david lynch, stanley kubrick, marlon brando. i could go on but i’m sure you get the idea. it’s a shame but i think it’s largely inherent to any artist who ventures out on their own, doing something new and interesting and genuine. they have to be strong, proud, stubborn individuals to do something unique and crazy and be successful with it. but those qualities don’t usually make for good buds you want to go for dog walks with.

then i saw the olympics a couple years ago and watched an interview with some world class athlete. i can’t remember who it was but it was a young, beautiful woman who was one of the best in the world at some obscure, essentially useless talent. i thought, “wow, so accomplished, and what a babe. i wonder what lucky dude she’ll end up with.” but then i listened to the interview and she talked about her rigorous training schedule, nutritional regime, how hard she had worked to get to this point, that sort of thing. her entire life from like age 8 on had been all been nothing but buildup to olympic level shotput or high jump or breaststroke or whatever, and i realized that despite the things i admired her for, she was a horrifically imbalanced individual. she had never had the time to make lasting friendships, to date people and learn about love and romance, to party, to hang out at mason’s in the summer and drink discount kick sodas…

it was a poor man’s jolt cola that no one bought, so they sold it for next to nothing. we bought it up like hot cakes.

…and she wouldn’t be any fun to hang out with. she and most other olympic athletes must be so stunted from living with such a singular purpose that i actually feel bad for them. they are on top of the world for a few weeks out of their lives, and the rest of the time they are missing out on the things that make life worth living. or things that make my life worth living, anyway.

and that’s how i came up with this theory that the people who seem the most talented or have achieved the greatest things are probably the most imbalanced, odd, and unpleasant to be around. we average schlubs may not make it into any history books but i’d way rather spend late nights dancing with my pals at seedy bars and house parties than doing anything at all with prince, henry rollins, or david lynch. i love their shit but those guys are weird as all hell.

emotional premature ejaculation

i was chatting about this recently with a pal so it’s been on my mind. basically, the idea behind emotional premature ejaculation (henceforth referred to as EPE) is that when people get really excited about a new or potential romantic endeavour, they act giddy, unnatural, odd. they wind up coming off as crazy or desperate and that scares many potential mates, and other people, away. i’ve done it myself, and i’ve been scared away by others doing it. it’s a terrible thing to witness but even more so to realize you are doing it.

i think using memes made by other people is a copout but this sums it up as good as i could. no one likes a psycho.

my pal matt first explained the concept of EPE to me. i had just filled him in on a few of my plentyoffish adventures where i had met girls i really liked, who i seemed to have a good rapport with, who had zero interest in a second date with me. i was baffled because i thought the dates had gone really well. we had chatted easily, seemed to have a fair amount in common, i thought i had been pretty ‘on’ as far as being charming and personable goes. but i guess when i was describing these dates to matt, he could see what the girls had probably seen: that i was getting way too worked up over girls i really didn’t know. as soon as he told me about EPE, i thought, “fuck. that’s it. i was way too visibly excited and looked crazy and/or desperate.” i’ve dated people who exhibit EPE and i was rightfully freaked out by them so i could totally understand what the girls i had EPE’d all over had felt about me.

since then, i’ve always maintained a serene aloofness around females that drives them absolutely mad with desire for me. just kidding. but i did learn to relax and be myself around girls i really liked, to control the urges to stare at them wide-eyed, hang on every word they said, and laugh too hard at every joke they made. let me be clear, i’m not saying “act like someone else instead of your foolish self.” i’m saying that EPE makes you act like someone else, and by being aware of it and keeping it in check, you are maintaining your self, and thus putting your best foot forward.

i also believe in a sort of extended mutual EPE, where it lasts for months or even years between two crazed individuals. i know that is intrinsically nonsensical considering the term but i don’t care. the symptoms are the same so in my book, it applies. anyway, i think most young lovers are guilty of extended mutual EPE because when you are inexperienced with sex and romance and your crotch is tingling with anticipation (bbaaaaaaarrrrrfffffffff, thrilled and disgusted i wrote that), you don’t use your brain. you just want to fuck and touch and be immersed in this other person who you share these wonderful, exciting, intimate things with. every goodbye is a 10-minute makeout session, you’re banging every free moment, you talk about each other incessantly to anyone who listens, you are in constant contact when apart…in short, it’s every high school relationship and it’s fucking disgusting to everyone who has to bear witness to it.

but adults are prone to extended mutual EPE too, and i think it’s sadder to see because i feel like adults should know better than to put all their eggs in one person-basket, to neglect their friends, to naively believe that the head-over-heels joy they are experiencing will last forever. it’s fine to embrace it while it lasts but i hope that adults can temper it so they aren’t so fucking annoying to their friends and, more importantly, so they can be aware of the inevitable end of a prolonged EPE so they aren’t disillusioned when the honeymoon ends and they either break up or trade the exciting sheen and boundless sexuality of a new relationship for the quiet trust, safety, and comfort of an old one.

i think the best defense anyone can take against EPE, prolonged or otherwise, is to try to be self aware, and when we notice ourselves doing something nuts, we need to stop, figure out why we are being crazy, and then fix that. easier said than done but what else can you do? keep acting all smarmy and cutesy and cuddly and gross and obsessed with the object of your affections in front of me? no thanks.

never do this in front of me unless you both want to get stabbed