Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.
I’m a hopeless romantic.
I know. Me. The cynic. The realist. The practical guy. The big pervert. The sexual omnivore. The guy who wants to take a girl and bend her over his knee.
I grew up the son of a logician. I was, I told myself, Spock. All about the logic. No emotion. But you know what? I’m not Spock. I’m more about Kirk. I want to teach the silver-haired alien girl in the slave collar about this earth “kiss.”
I love a good action film. Sure. Stuff blowing up. Gunplay. Cars crashing. Boo-Yah! But you know, I’d really just as soon watch a very well written romantic comedy. And no matter how much I like dry, technical sci-fi or dense, complicated political fantasy, it quickly loses me without a love interest and a thread of passion.
Now, as the old cynic, as the man of the family, it’s not often I myself get a chance to fall in love. I more often get the chance to be an asshole and scream at people I love over stupid things, and then spend all day saying I’m sorry. So there’s unique pleasure watching my friends falling in love.
Love’s complicated. You don’t know where it’s coming from, or who’s carrying it. You encounter people in all sorts of ways; at your local dive watering hole, at the gym, at a coffee joint. At work, at a club, at — anyplace you go, pretty much. And now, we also meet each other on line.
So we encounter an endless stream of people. Most are almost completely nameless or faceless, we pass my each other without much impact. A smile maybe, a lustful or disdaining glance. On line, a bare notice of a handle or an avatar or a picture. Whatever.
But now and then, we stop and chat. Notice, for whatever reason, and engage. And with luck, you wind up with friends.
I’ve picked up a lot of friends, for example, on Orkut. More than ever I expected. Not the thousand, or even the 200-ish I have now; those are a different value of friend. But still, there are some — a dozen maybe — that I really think of as friend, who I’ll keep in my life if possible when I move away from orkut. And of those, there are a few – I’m not sure, roughly a hand’s worth — who are more. People I’ll seek out, people I’ll keep. People I care about. This isn’t unique to orkut; I’ve done this since I started on line, an incredibly long time ago in ‘net terms. Met many, been friends with a few, loved a very few. certain people who stand out to me and have stayed in my life, because I hang on to them even if they try to slink away.
So there’s a particular pleasure in watching friends fall in love. Even if the love is, in some cases, bittersweet and painful.
Love, really, is what it’s about for me. All the flirting and fooling around on line, all the friendships and playmates. Romance. It’s one of life’s simple, clear pleasures.
Love comes out of nowhere. Of all the chance encounters, you never know.
Sometimes people are looking; more often, in my experience, when people fall in love they’re not looking for it. It’s just a an unexpected spark.
Lately, I’ve watched one friend fall in love twice. Once with an old love, re-kindled after long dormancy; and then again, with someone completely unexpected, almost a chance meeting. Both complicated; both experiences bringing pain and joy. Neither simple or easy in any way, and to date, both unresolved. She loves both, truly and passionately. One or both may be doomed, or not, who can say.
Now, today, I’ve been talking to another friend. And again, unexpectedly, she’s falling in love. In this case, with another mutual friend. So I’m watching this one from both sides, one an intimate, close friend, the other a casual but liked and respected on-line buddy. And I’m watching the beginnings of something. Maybe not really love, who can say so early, but certainly passion, certainly the seeds of love.
It’s giddy, heady drug, to be close to. Tell me more, I want to say. Tell me how you feel. Tell me about the first time you met, touched, when you first said the word ‘love’, secretly and quietly, deep down inside.
Love. The word is scary and difficult, sometimes. Some people never really say it. Some people will say it casually, to any friend. But in a romance, there’s a point where someone will think it, and say it or not; fearing sometimes to say to much too soon. “I’m falling in love” one might confess to a friend, but that’s easy. But “I love you” is so much more important and meaningful. All the more so when said to someone who comes out of life’s left field, unexpected and un-looked-for.
Maybe this is why some people become relentless match makers. Maybe this is why some people become relentlessly promiscuous. Both wanting the thrill of new love, one seeking to engineer a vicarious pleasure, the other substituting physical intimacy.
In many ways it’s the same ting that drives me as a writer. It’s why I am drawn to erotica; but for the same reason, why I have trouble writing certain kinds of erotica. I’ve got friends who love more extreme, taboo sorts of erotica, and I must admit I enjoy the same things as a reader. But my own drive, my own muse is more about love than about sex. So I have a difficult time finding the inspiration for erotic writing when there’s not a thread of love.
And the theme of love, unexpected and intense, painful and complex and passionate; it’s so compelling. In life, in fiction, in song. Love and pain and heartache. So how can one resist watching? How can one not derive a simple joy watching friends fall in love, even knowing that pain, of one sort or another, is always part of romantic love?