Prince Charming, the Knight in Shining Armor, Cinderella’s Prince, Barbie’s Ken, hell, even Jerry McGuire really screwed it up. They were our childhood heroes, around whom we crafted our brittle and often misguided hopes and dreams. They played with us through thick and thin, until, one day, they didn’t. And there we were, cold and alone, probably standing in the rain in the middle of a street lit dimly by one hanging streetlamp as the “Grey’s Anatomy sad breakup music” swelled in the background and we listened as the love of our life told us he didn’t love us. And it feels like the time we got the wind knocked out of us in third grade gym class because we couldn’t catch the kickball – equal parts pain, embarrassment and a panicky inability to breathe. And we have reached it. The death of hope. That poignant coming-of-age moment in which we realize that happily ever after doesn’t exist, fairy tales aren’t real and life is sometimes hard. Actually, it’s usually hard.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Who Killed Prince Charming? I Liked Him
Happily Never After. The End.
Or so you think.
But if you are among the enlightened few that have the presence of heart and mind to move beyond this really crappy moment, then you come to realize that the death of hope isn’t so bad. The sooner you stop waiting for Prince Charming to whisk you away to Happily Ever After Land, the sooner you are able to realize that real relationships take work, not fairy dust magic.
I knew a man once who couldn’t stay content in a relationship for longer than two weeks, a month, maybe three if he was lucky. His demons grew restless when that first-two-week honeymoon faded into the reality of the everyday. So he’d leave woman after woman in search of an eternity of just-met-you giddiness. His own Happily Ever After, if you will. The problem is that the just-met-a-new girl jitters is not love, or even being in love, it’s being in lust. And it’s very real, but not at all realistic. Unfortunately, people are mean, people are annoying and people let you down. It’s what you do after those letdowns that make love. Hopefully, he finds it someday.
I also know my parents. And I know that sometimes they want to scratch each other’s eyes out, or rip each other’s throats out, and then tear each other limb from limb and feed those body parts to a pit of flesh eating vipers (do flesh eating vipers actually exist?). Or all of the above. And I also know that they are still together after 27 (ish) years of marriage and that for some unknown reason my parental-type figures appear to love each other.
And that’s what love’s really all about. It’s the desire to tear someone limb from limb, but the ability to love and respect them at the end of the day for who they are, not who you wish they would be. Perhaps if people stopped believing in this fairy tale propaganda, stopped watching so much Grey’s Anatomy and stopped waiting for a Happily Ever After that never comes, they would find Happily Ever After where they least expected it. Or at least some form of it. Maybe if people waited for their soul mate in the form of shared intellect, mutual trust and big belly laughs they would stop following the ghost of passionate romance down an endless road. Maybe then families wouldn’t break, dreams wouldn’t shatter and hearts wouldn’t rupture.
So ride in on your own white horse and be your own knight in shining armor. Fairy tales aren’t real. Love isn’t that tingle in the pit of your stomach when you meet a pretty girl for the first time. Love is what is still there after the fires of passion have cooled. After you’ve succeeded in really hurting, annoying, despising and destroying someone, and then the dust settles, and they’re still there. Just like you wished your childhood fairy heroes would have been. And that’s when you find out that Happily Ever After is real. Just not at all in the way we thought it was. And in the end all we’ve got is hope in love.