‘Love’ American Style
I know you’ll be “surprised,” but a lot of folks aren’t wise to the fact that Love American Style isn’t real life. If you’ve bought into Hollywood’s idea of happily ever after along with their love litmus test: permanent biochemical induced love feelings, stick around; this post is for you.
Ya know, I like a good chick flick, now and again, probably just as much as the next well adjusted (or trained, as the case may be), red blooded, American male. But lately, I get the feeling that mass media, which includes film, television, and news, is downgrading our interpersonal relationships. The Hollywood fairy tale has elevated expectations to the point that if real life doesn’t mirror Pretty Woman, we feel like we should cash in our chips and start over again, ‘cause ya know, I’m just not happy. And lately, (you look pretty good and all…well, you used to) but now that my brain has been fairly efficiently rewired to expect air brushed skin and perfectly proportioned measurements, I’m thinkin’ hell, I can probably do a little better than what I’ve settled for, so adios senora and hola muchachitas.
But surprise! Those relational utopian bastards in Hollywood didn’t tell pop culture that the whole thing was a ruse. Instead, they taught us that the “perfect” relationship is…perfect. That’s the dirty little intimate interpersonal utopian lie the film jocks have sold us. Subsequently, when real life doesn’t measure up to the pie in the sky expectations mass media has lovingly nurtured in our psyches, we figure it’s time to look for a new model, because this one’s totaled. Pop culture is in the market…as it were.
Well, Hollywood might be sellin’ but this meat eater ain’t buyin’. Married for the last ten years, I can tell you I love my wife dearly. In fact, I’m more in love with her now than when we got married, more in love than when I fell for her some 25 years ago as a freshman in high school. Yeah, I’m livin’ the Hollywood dream, baby, but it ain’t all wine-n-roses. That’s because I can also tell you that at least three days out of every month she hates my face; that sometimes life with your soul mate gets pretty damned ugly; that there were times during the first seven years or so when I wanted to quit. I didn’t, and thank God neither did she. It took prayer; it took perseverance; it took faithful friends to hold me accountable when I was pretty much refusing to love and honor my wife; (that was during a time when I had just “lost that lovin’ feelin’); and it took work…LOTS of work. It took a willingness to sacrifice self, not necessarily for one another, but for the relationship. And in retrospect, I know it has all been worth it: all the “disagreements,” all the unpacking of each other’s baggage, all the sexual frustration, all the financial disputes, all the late night puke cleaning drills with the kids and, yes, all the “I’m just not happy anymore” feelings. I wouldn’t trade any of it. That’s the price of Hollywood’s best kept secret. In a word, it’s called commitment and those high brow celluloid pushers don’t want “Buffy” and “Thor” to know that’s the good shit.