When I was little, love to me was like the locked room of my grandparents’ house. I always knew one day I’d have to break down the door with savage curiosity, but until then I’d just sit in the living room watching Growing Pains and eating cottage cheese.
As I grew up, I watched a number of romantic movies that taught me what love was “supposed” to look like. (They also tried to convince me that every couple that falls in love is essentially perfect and blemishless, but I was eventually able to call BS on that.)
Sometimes as I watched the movies, I transported myself into the character of the female lead; I wanted to see how it felt to be told by someone that I completed them or that our story still wasn’t over. And most of the time, when the lines worked, I understood my character’s choice to ride off into the sunset. Other times however, I couldn’t even begin to relate.
Here are some examples of those times:
Movie: Pearl Harbor
Scene: Danny (Josh Hartnett) takes Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) for a private flight.
Romantic right? They’re own private flight. They’re all cozy and Danny is hot and Evelyn is hot but also slightly scared and excited. Everything is going great and I’m there, I’m in the scene, I’m the goddess that is Kate Beckinsale, and I make one simple request: “DON’T FLIP THE DAMN PLANE.” (Minor paraphrasing, of course.) But what does Danny do? You guessed it. He flips the damn plane. And I get it, I really do, you little rascal. As we flip, the fear I feel will supposedly morph into adrenaline and then evolve into excitement and hunger, resulting in our ultimate baby making back in the hanger. But for me, if I was Evelyn, the whole “no flip” thing would not be a suggestion. “DO NOT”, I would say, “DO NOT DO A BARREL ROLL WITH THIS DAMN PLANE. It’s nothing against your piloting shenanigans, I just have extremely bad motion sickness and I WILL vomit all over this sexy red dress. Then chances are, we don’t make a baby and Ben Affleck doesn’t get to tell you you’re going to be a father right before you die. It will all be bad. Just land the plane and we’ll grab a milkshake.
Scene: Jack (Leo DiCaprio) saves Rose (Kate Winslet) from jumping off the boat.
I’m not great in heels; I accepted this fact a long time ago. In addition, 90% of my wardrobe is leggings and T-shirts, so getting into the character of an elegant British woman who wears long gowns and kitten heels is already a bit of a stretch, but I’ll work with it. There I am, walking towards the back of the Titanic, ready to jump off the edge into nothingness. Unlike Kate’s stride, mine is a bit like a baby deer and my ankle rolls a few times, but I’m so desperate to get away from my shithead fiancé and controlling mother, I ignore my shoes and keep walking. As I gimp, I’m unaware of my subconscious hope that Leo shows up, but as I take my suicidal stance, he appears. Before I see him however, a 4th and final ankle roll sends me tumbling into the water. Leo considers diving in after me. He pictures us swimming to an undiscovered shore and starting a life together, thriving Blue Lagoon style. We’d forgo clothing and he’d draw me like one of his Amazon girls, and we would name our first child Iceberg, an ill-advised ode to the frigid jump that brought us together. He pictures all of this whilst I’m in mid-fall, then realizes that although I had a lot of potential to be the love of his life, he could surely find someone in New York with much less baggage. He then steps away from the edge, goes back downstairs and kicks that Italian guy’s ass at poker.
Movie: Love Actually
Scene: Mark (Andrew Lincoln) confesses his love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) via doorstep sign montage.
The thing with this scene is not that it wouldn’t work for me, it’s that—unlike the movie—it actually would. Yes, yes, I know that I, Juliet, “we”, are already committed to another man, and in my own life I would never dream of doing such a thing. But wearing Juliet’s shoes, I would step off that porch and run away with sign-guy. It would be scandalous and completely out of character and I’d probably drown in guilt. But then, when the apocalypse set in and zombies ate all of my friends, I’d realize that I clearly made the right choice, because as it turns out, sign guy is a badass. Though I’d probably end up leaving him for Darryl. What? It’s the apocalypse and my second husband is severely unstable! Give me a break!
Movie: Love and Basketball
Scene: Monica (Sonaa Lathan) challenges Quincy (Omar Epps) to a one on one game to win his heart.
This one is doomed pretty early due to the fact that I have almost zero basketball skills. There is a crack in the cement of my parent’s backyard that I can shoot layups from all day without missing, but I wouldn’t exactly define myself as someone who’s “got game.” I’m the person that dives in front of the ball when it’s being “checked” because I think it’s the first pass I’ve ever had a shot at blocking. The display I’d put on in a one on one game would never provoke Quincy to offer up double or nothing. He’d probably just shake my hand and pat himself on the back for dumping me in college. Now, there is a strong argument that could be made regarding the likely hood of this game ever happening due to the aforementioned lack of skill. This proposal would work far better if I wanted to break up with someone. Example: if I was dating David Beckham and I was just sick of his perfect body and delicious accent, I might challenge him to a series of penalty kicks for his heart. If I win, I keep it, but if I SOMEHOW manage to blow it, we break up. See? I would be setting myself up for failure. So proposing a game of basketball to WIN the love of my life?! No, that would not be my best idea, but there’s no need to get technical….foul! Basketball pun? Right? AM I RIGHT?! #slamdunk. I’ll stop.
The main lesson I’ve learned from both love in movies and love in real life is that it never looks the same. I think we all have our own path to follow and it doesn’t always include Lloyd Dobler standing outside our window with a boom box…although I hope mine does.