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Irritatingly, I have a headache again - it makes it hard to think.  I guess it's the weather, which cannot decide where on the temperature scale it wishes to stand.  Of course, all the local flowering trees are ignoring this prevarication and have decided to bud and bloom with alacrity - three days ago, bare trees, and today, ooh, pink!

I do love tree blossoms.  It's one thing DC does very well - a lot of neighbourhoods are filled with cherries, and people do take a lot of care with their gardens.  When my family lived in Bethesda, we used to get people stopping on the road to look at our 40-50 foot Japanese weeping cherry, which, for the week or so it flowered, was amazingly gorgeous.  I've never seen one as big - it had to be at least 70 years old.

When I was in high school, I used to walk the 3/4 mile or so to school through the cherry-lined back streets, and my favourite time of year was when the blossoms were just starting to fall and bury the streets in drifts of petals.  Being a complete fantasy geek, I used to pretend that I wasn't a dumpy unattractive teenager during those days, but the girl in Legend or some such movie/story, walking in a long flowing dress through drifts of romantically whirling petals, my long perfectly ringleted hair lifting gently in the breeze, to where unicorns and my True Love[tm] were waiting to take me to my happily ever after.

God, I do not miss those days one bit.

The absolute agony of feeling like every single facet of my life and appearance (so brutally important during one's teenage years) did not (and could never) measure up to the kind of girl who got to have the Prince in all those stories poisoned my entire existence.  Romantic fantasies are lethal, because real life can't compete with unicorns, ferchrissake.  Getting hooked on that kind of thing as a hormone-addled teenager practially guarantees misery.

Oh, God.  The yearning.  The muthafekkin' aching lonely yearning.  I'm surprised I made it out as mentally intact as I did.  Thank all the sweet Goddesses and saints watching over me that I did get over it - Many women don't, and still fervently buy into the idea that there's a Prince out there with their name on him (which is why so many terrible chick-flicks are made that have agonizingly stupid endings).

(He's Just Not That Into You is one such festering boil.  I read the synopsis on The Movie Spoiler, and I wanted to barf at the stupidity.  Please, avoid this movie.)  

This isn't a diatribe about "not needing a partner to be a whole and functioning human being", btw - I would be a total hypocrite if I did one of them, since I have not spent any time without a partner since I was 18, and I really, really prefer not to be alone - but being able to look at your man and know he's perfect for you without requiring him to be perfect is one of the key things in a successful partnership, and that's kind of what I'm rambling about.

(I think Bob is perfect.  I'm just sayin'.)

These fantasies that so many of us grew up on (and see perpetuated in movies) - they are so passive.  Waiting for the Prince.  Being saved by the Prince.  Being woken from a deep sleep (what's more passive than a coma?) by the Prince.  Being carried off by the Prince to his castle (maybe I like my castle - it's got all my stuff, and a bitchin' garden, to boot).  This is madness - who wants to be like that?  I want autonomy.  I want a man who listens to my opinion, who laughs at my jokes, who lets me know when there's one apple left, and gives me the option of eating it instead.  I need to be appreciated for what I am, not what someone wants me to be.

But the romantic fantasy interferes with all of that - it requires me to be a certain way, or else I end up the bad girl who dies (in the old-style movies) or the "quirky" best friend who remains alone (in the newer movies - a fate even worse than death, according to the romance fantasy).  Being unwilling to fit into Princess mode means NO MAN, and this causes otherwise sane women to panic and focus on unnecessary things like their weight and forget about important things like whether the guy has a sense of humour.  Or worse, they get silly and ignore clear warning signs, like the fact that he stares at other women the whole time you're on a date.

There is a song that's quite popular right now called "Love Story" - sung by a beautiful, dewy (and young) Taylor Swift, it is an update on the Cinderella story, with a bit of Romeo and Juliet-type "We're not supposed to be together" thrown in.  In the grand tradition of completely unrealistic romance fantasies, everything works out okay, and he tells her to pick out a white dress, because her daddy says it's okay to get married.

(The video is hilariously badly costumed, but I have to admit that guys do look yummy in early 1800s clothing.)

Romeo and Juliet was a tragedy, but most people seem to have forgotten that, considering how often it is referenced in popular culture as the ultimate romance.  They don't end up together despite all objections, they end up dead.  Deservedly so - frankly, they're both idiots.  But the idea of young love and perfect endings is part of the romantic fantasy, and a veil is discreetly drawn over the happy ending, since marrying at 17 (or 14) is a less than good idea, and the next act is Juliet at home with three kids by the time she's 20, and Romeo working a crap job, drinking away his earnings just so he doesn't have to deal with the disappointment that things didn't turn out to be "happily ever after" at all.

The ultimate romantic fantasy is sterile - and futile.  Life continues past the end of the "happily", and the "ever after" needs to be considered.  Unfortunately, teenagers - riddled with longing, awash with hormones, and no idea who they really are - aren't very rational thinkers, and they have no idea that the initial stomach-dropping excitement of infatuation needs to mature into a steady calm love if the relationship has any chance of surviving.  The excitement can't last at that level - our bodies simply don't produce enough endorphins.  That rush is supposed to get you through the first weeks of knowing someone, allowing you to overlook their less attractive attributes just long enough to get pregnant and perpetuate the species.  If you get pregnant quickly, the man will stay around long enough for you to give birth, and maybe through the first year.

Then it all wears off, and if a girl is too wrapped up in the romantic fantasy of Twoo Wuv to notice that the guy she hitched her star to is not actually compatible at all, the sudden lack of anything in common comes as a bit of a shock.  The purported happy ending that was supposed to magically appear doesn't.  What happened?

She never bothered to actually look at her Twoo Wuv, is what happened. Participating in (and wholly buying into) the romantic fantasy is willingly putting on a blindfold.  Every man becomes potentially TEH ONE (omgz!), and the poor unfortunate man the girl has focused her fantasy on, even if he's a really awesome guy, doesn't stand a chance at being seen for the great guy he really is.  I hate this idea.  Most guys are absolutely awesome, but they're not some Disney fantasy meal ticket, and it's insulting and demeaning to expect them to conform to some girl's unrealistic fantasy. 

(Plus it allows those really icky predator guys to use you and ditch you, since they're master manipulators, and can play into all your fantasies.  Be suspicious of the guy who does everything too intensely, too fast.  He's an asshole.  Awesome guys are too nervous about being with an awesome girl to pull everything off perfectly.)

I hate the pain of the fantasy - it not only obscures your view of the person you're dating, it destroys your self-esteem.  No-one is willowy, perfect, delicate, and always gorgeous, with perfectly tousled hair and long eyelashes framing perfect almond shaped violet-blue eyes.  We're always too fat, too short, not graceful enough.  Our hips are too big, our laugh is too loud, we say "fuck!" at the wrong moment.  But we're real - and the awesome guy that wants to date us is real, too - as long as that dreadful romantic fantasy doesn't get in the way.

I'd put this over to the guys, too - that fantasy woman you're looking for?  Doesn't exist.  Even Angelina Jolie gets cranky, and eats the last cookie sometimes.  It's called life.  Life is full of compromises - ones that you will happily make in a healthy relationship, because the other person is compromising as much as you are.  No man is an island, and good thing, too.

Romantic movies and music (and the entire fashion industry) are predicated on you being unhappy.  They like the romantic fantasy, because it means they get to sell more stuff to people desperately trying to find their Prince or Princess.  Enjoy the movies and music, and have fun wearing great clothing by all means, but don't look at any of it as some kind of blueprint for happiness, or you'll drive yourself insane.

Even if, by some horrid happenstance, I ended up single again, I refuse to hit up that romantic fantasy again, no matter how seductive.  I am ideal for someone, and someone is ideal for me (hi, Bob!), and neither of us would fit into the Disney mould.  I never want to yearn like that again.  Worse, I might miss out on a great person because they didn't fit my romantic ideal.  How ironic!

Save it for the movies and the music videos - I prefer real life.

But I am looking forward to the cherry blossoms.  And I think that red hair goes quite well with tumbling pale pink petals and a gentle breeze - even if it does mean my hair goes funny and stands up in a goofy way.


Mar. 11th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)

From the other side of this, a girl who has decided that you are their TWOO WUV has got to be the most frustrating, annoying thing EVER. She expects you to ride in on a white horse, rescue her from all her problems and then make her life go perfectly. Some guys buy into this, but the whole thing honestly scares me -- I'd rather be with someone who isn't looking to me to make the world perfect for them and solve all their problems. It doesn't sound, to me, like a very healthy relationship.

(I like the T. Swift song only because it's catchy and plays on the radio a lot, but it makes me laugh that it's Romeo and Juliet being referenced -- I always figure the missing verse is about them dying horribly.)
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
This particular sword cuts both ways.
Speaking as one who has been on the receiving end of rescuing because some guy with white-knight ambitions, needing to see himself as hero, has insisted on rescuing me from things I not only didn't need rescuing *from,* but at which I was and am far more competent than they were.

And at least two of them decided before even introducing themselves that they'd "rescue" me from *their* bachelorhood by making me mommy-wife to them. I get why, from their standpoint, it seemed a good idea but they couldn't get that from mine, this wasn't such a bargain.
Sorry: this has to sound like man-bashing, but it's not men in general I'm gunning for here.
Mar. 11th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Flip side of the same coin; it's traditional thinking that gives the lazy a distinct advantage - men get all their housework done for them, women don't have to support themselves. This only works in an economy that can support a one-income family, and it is a horrifying prospect for anyone (male or female) with brains and a desire to be partnered with an equal.

A study done in the (I think) 80s showed that single women and married men have the highest levels of life happiness - married women ranked the lowest in happiness, followed by single men. I think most people with brains (and certainly anyone worth hanging out with for life) want an equal, not a slave or a wallet.
Mar. 11th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
The lazy do have a distinct advantage. This is the corollary to, "In arguments such as [the one referenced] the dull will always triumph by 'virtue' of their dullness." Which I may have inadvertently paraphrased.
Mar. 12th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
Naw, it doesn't sound like man-bashing at all, it's the sort of thing you see all the time. Guys who are desperate to play the white knight but have no idea how to go about it especially -- BE NICE TO HER YOU'RE ALL MEAN SHE'S NOT BEING CRAZY it's ok nobody understands you but me but I understand you = D: D: D:

And just, oof, there are SO many guys who want a mom, not a wife. My brother's one of them and thank goodness his girlfriend has the spine to make him take care of himself.

Mar. 11th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
Traditioalists on both sides have a stake in keeping the status quo; men get power, and women get taken care of. Us modernists tend to think both ends are a bad bargain. :)
Mar. 12th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
Hooray I must be a modernist!

I'm sure some people are completely happy with the "traditional" style, but wow that is so not for me.

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