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Saturday, 21 January 2012


More untitled film stills

“Love is being stupid together.”
Paul Valery

Reach out and touch
Just realize; a week ago you were looking at the clock and thinking that it’s 4:30 on a Friday afternoon and what do you have to look forward to for the next couple of days but two hangovers and the bleak realization on Sunday that the routine was about to start over again. Then it all changed, in a matter of minutes when you think about it, and now she is asleep in your bed, the most beautiful woman in the world; well, there’s no other way to put it, that’s exactly what she is. Statistically speaking, if this relationship doesn’t crash on the rocks in the first few months it will survive long enough for the two of you to find contentment sitting together in the evenings, watching television and discussing finances. You have friends who are doing that already and, admit it; you’ve felt pangs of jealousy overhearing guys at work discuss weekends taking the kids to piano lessons or driving out to the suburbs to buy a new barbecue. Sure, you tell yourself, watching two flies climb up a wall is more interesting than that. So, what’s it going to be? Which form of spiritual death is the most comfortable?

Love is two hearts beating as one.
This isn’t the right time, but there is so much you want to tell him, like how you felt butterflies in your stomach the first time you met, about that way he moves his head that sets something off in you, about growing up in a small town and coming to the city every summer, how you wanted a pony but your father insisted on a dog and you called it Bubbles until the day the truck hit it. It’s so strange. You don’t normally feel this way but something about him just makes you want to tell him everything about yourself. Is it love? Is this what happens when you find the real thing?

As long as we have each other …
They’re watching. Ignore them. News travels fast and everyone has been waiting to see the two of you together. They all say the same thing; what wonderful news, how happy they are, how beautiful she is, what a catch he is – all of this on first impressions alone. You wish the way you announced your couple-dom could have been different, not so public, perhaps introducing one friend at a time. You feel a whole new pressure in your life. ‘This is great,’ they all say, leaving out the next part: ‘Don’t screw it up.’ You want to say, ‘listen everyone; thanks for all your good words but can I just say it is early days right now? Yes we are happy but we’ve only just met so let us develop our relationship in peace. What happens if it does go wrong? How will we look then?’

The heart says yes but the head says no
Some things are best left unsaid. Her taste in music is as interesting as an old cucumber sandwich but his tobacco stained teeth takes nerves of steel to handle. Her best friend is intolerable for a variety of reasons and his is too, but only for one; he’s a drunken boor with the emotional age of a six year old. They have been together six weeks. She already wants to know where the relationship is going while he’s content to let things unfold of their own accord. She has a list in her head of things about him she can change and others she just has to live with. He knows he has no reason to be unhappy but if that’s so, why does he still talk with his ex? Both of you are in love, both happy (so you tell everyone but especially each other) and yet there’s this feeling you share that you are a couple of boxers, the first bell has just rung and you’re circling each other.

We need to talk
How did it happen? You were at your friends’ house for dinner. The food was good, the wine not bad and the conversation bubbling along harmlessly. Then he said something. What it was you can’t remember exactly but suddenly you saw him without your blinkers on. No, it wasn’t a jolting revelation. It was more like a violent attack of nausea. ‘My god,’ you heard yourself saying. ‘He’s really no different. How could I have fooled myself?’ You leave the table and hurry to the bathroom where alone you unleash the demons. When they have passed and you are splashing water on your face you are astonished at how strangely unchanged the room is. You feel as though a tornado has just blown through.

It’s not you, it’s me
What a deplorable situation, and yet, as the truth comes out about the other man, you know the signs were always there; you just chose not to read them. That curious forced laugh she developed, the times she disturbed routines you took for granted so that suddenly you were no longer meeting under the clock tower any more but making your own ways home. Last Sunday was perfect yet on Tuesday night you felt her lying awake and thinking. And the worst of it is that you’ve just realized the mistakes you made. That tone in your voice when she asked if you liked the dress was the wrong one. And that time you were walking along the street and she stopped to pat the little tortoiseshell kitten, you didn’t need to snap. You weren’t in a hurry. Think again. The real worst of it is that as the litany of missteps and faux pas becomes apparent, you know that no single thing you did was that bad that you deserve this.

Love means never having to say sorry
So, I guess this is it. Do we have anything to say? Of course we do, quite a lot but it will have to wait and may remain unspoken. There’s a moment as they look at each other when both believe that the right words will change everything, restore order and bring back love. The air is heavy with the tension of what must be done but then neither of them really know the words and in the end both lack that strength of purpose to find them. He starts to say her name, she shakes her head and like a light going out the moment vanishes. When they look at each other again it’s with the knowledge the link is broken. When he leaves the strongest sensation she has is his presence.

Things happen for a reason
Well, what if it had worked and you married each other? Isn’t it clear now that eventually you would have found yourselves in the divorce court dividing up property and, yes, even children, as though these were objects in a game and you just lost? Well, before that there is the other hall of justice to contend with - trial by friends. She’s sitting in a café being grilled by hers, repeatedly cutting her off mid-sentence to admit what they’d always suspected about him; self-centred deadbeat and emotional cripple. He’s in a bar, on his fourth scotch and soda. His friends have a solution to his problem. There’s a party tomorrow night where they know there will be loads of beautiful women. What he really feels like doing is breaking down and telling the lads how he failed but he knows they won’t stand for that. Meanwhile she is scraping a teaspoon over the remains of a carrot cake and wondering why, if her friends had seen everything so clearly and for so long, they never spoke up before. It is a Saturday afternoon in autumn. Outside the sky is grey and leaves slowly drop from the trees. She thinks she should have brought a shawl. He thinks he just wants to be alone, with a bottle for company. Right now, they don’t know it but what they really want is each other, even if it were only for an hour or two, for support against the harrowing good intentions of friends.


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