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It's Nelly's World

True--or False--Love

alec vanderboom

This is all hypothetical, mind you. I have been considering the idea of love, as a subject for scientific study, and find myself curious as to what others have found in their experience. Like, is it ever real?

The princess story is a potent one in the life of a little girl. She will find, or be found by, her prince. And then the adventure ends. The story ends. Life basically ends. But it's all good, because, after all, life is hard. With the prince, another plateau is reached. Heaven, let's call it. Up there in the clouds, there's nothing much to do but roll around in the warm goo of mutual love.

It can be that way, can't it? For the first year, I mean.

Then, inevitably and always, reality strews its nails and glass shards in the roadway. The smooth and elevated ride goes bump, bang, down. [True or False?]

I see them now, the women who are approaching forty and who have not yet found their prince, or even any kind of regular guy who does not have an addiction to liquor, poverty, or an endless series of six-week relationships. I can almost see it in their bodies: the hopefulness, tensing under their skin, pulling them along by a certain belief that if only they find a man to marry, they will finally be happy. It becomes, in fact, the driving feature of their lives: they are looking, furtively, anywhere and at every moment, for a possibility. He just might be at the dinner party tomorrow night. And then he isn't, and you see them sag, see the impatience to get out of there--you mean I have to sit here, captive, for three whole hours, wasting time I could better use in the search of a lifetime?

I see them, because I was once one of these hungry women. I haunted the streets and the clubs, a desperate look in my darting eye. The more that people told me I needed to stop being desperate, that it alone would prevent that which I desired most (they were right), the more unhappily heartsick I became (I was right too, inasmuch as I never did learn the trick of not feeling what I felt).

There are only two options then: either you finally give up, realize you're never going to meet anyone, get on with your life, and then meet someone because of it. (The Zen of Marriage, this is called.) Or--in the happy ending that invariably turns sad--you attract the kind of man who could really, really use a desperate woman. [True or False?]

Funny, now, though. After much of a lifetime spent yearning for just one thing as if it were everything [True or False?], now it's the one thing I don't really want. I feel pretty much the same way toward marriage that I feel toward being bitten by a rabid dog.

Marriage: it can't end well. [True or False?]

It so often ends in contempt, over-familiarity, at best the death of the floaty, ecstatic dreamworld of first love.

But tell me different. Go ahead, tell me. Love--is it true?