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For the Week of Heart – Part 1

February 11, 2013

Like the colossal UFOs of Independence Day, Valentine’s Day looms over many of us as we wait to see what happens when it takes its place over the national landmarks of our lives and opens its primary chamber.

Will we experience utter devastation?

Will we take up arms like Will Smith and fight it?

Will we listen to the Jeff Goldblums of our lives and flee, just in the nick of time?

Or is it just not a big, hairy deal? Or just not a big deal – why does it have to be hairy? Why couldn’t it be Harry? Accio, egg!

For some reason a lot of people make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, be they happy, sappy couples or jaded, raided singles.

Some argue, why set aside one day to make a grandiose expression of your love to your beloved? Personally, I can’t argue with that. Be spontaneous and original and give ’em a bouquet in April.

Some argue why not have one special day devoted to the occasion of love? I can’t really argue with that either. I mean…yeah, why not? Any excuse to get dressed up for a fancy dinner and score brownie points, right?

Some say it’s a holiday created by greeting card companies. Well, says you got the wrong one, boyo. While there is no one definitive origin story, the traditions have been around for a right good while – go ahead and peruse the article – it’s pretty interesting.

I think one thing most of us all can agree on is that love is a many-splendored thing. All you need is love. We could be heroes, we should be lovers because IIIIIIIIIIII-yeeee-IIIIIIII-yeeeee-IIIIIII will alwaaaaays loooooove yoooouuuuuuuuuu….. Too much Moulin Rouge?

Now that’s a heck of a movie. If there’s any flick out there that exemplifies the modern view of love, that’s it. The excitement of it all, the fun, the thrill of finding the one person with whom you click – your missing lego piece, the peas to your carrots, the TIE to your fighter.

But how does Ewan McGregor’s character know that Nicole Kidman’s courtesan is his soulmate? From what I’ve been able to discern he knows it because he sees her and his heart goes flippity-flop and there’s a chemical reaction and physical change in his trousers. Why not go for any of the other girls in the movie? Well, who knows? Perhaps he has a penchant for redheads. Anyway, it wouldn’t serve the plot.

And who of us haven’t had that experience? You see someone and your blood muscle plummets into your innards causing you to sweat profusely; you hear his or her voice and it’s just music to your ears. This person can do no wrong…. And how long have you known this person? Oh, yeah, you haven’t even spoken to him/her. If you’ve tried, intelligible words prove to be too difficult to manage and you simply stutter and stammer for an eternal minute before uttering a toucan’s squawk and then you wish you were a toucan so you could fly back to Brazil and take up residence in the Amazon.

The reality of love isn’t as musical as Moulin Rouge. Unless you’re John Cusack in the movie High Fidelity. If you haven’t seen this movie, go see it, it’s great. It speaks volumes to the transience of mainstream culture’s concept of love and the stability of real, true love. I mean, it’s right there in the title – “High Fidelity” – most folks assume it’s referring to the sound quality of record albums. Is that what Nick Hornby, the author of the novel off which the film is based intended? I don’t know. I’d like to think not, though it is a clever double-meaning. On the surface, sure, that’s what it means, but when you look deeper you get that other meaning.






We’re introduced to Cusack’s character, Rob Gordon, just as his most recent and longest-lasting girlfriend, Laura, is leaving him. Over the course of the movie he details the most impactful break-ups he’s been through, trying to exclude Laura from the list and trying to get her back while also nursing his wounds by sleeping with another woman. It’s not okay for his ex to sleep with someone else, but it’s fine and dandy if he does it – does that seem right to you?


Anyway, throughout the film he goes to great lengths to try and get her back and finally his sister confronts him and asks, “Why do you want her back so badly?” He has no response at first….

Prior to this he talks about what he misses about her. It’s really sweet but also really mundane – he misses certain sounds she would make in her sleep, the way we she smelled, the way she laughed. By the third act they are indeed back together, but then he meets a new young lady who is quite pretty and flatters his ego. He very nearly goes after her – after all, it’s around this point where he just about realizes his problem – he’s always in search of that greener shade of grass.

He idolizes and idealizes women. He has no real direction for his life, no sense of who he is and what he wants except a few dreams he’s too scared to pursue. He basically needs the love of a woman the way a meth addict needs another fix. Honestly, who wants to be in a relationship with someone like that?

Finally, with the threat of going through the cycle all over again, Rob comes to his senses and delivers a few excellent quotes every man – and woman, for that matter – could take to heart.

Should I bolt every time I get that feeling in my gut when I meet someone new? Well, I’ve been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains. 

I can see now I never really committed to Laura. I always had one foot out the door, and that prevented me from doing a lot of things, like thinking about my future and… I guess it made more sense to commit to nothing, keep my options open. And that’s suicide. By tiny, tiny increments. 

She didn’t make me miserable, or anxious, or ill at ease. You know, it sounds boring, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t spectacular either. It was just good. But really good. 

And finally, Rob’s final exchange with Laura:


That other girl, other women, whatever, I was thinking that they’re just fantasies, y’know? And they always seem really great, because there’s never any problems, and if there are, they’re cute problems, like, y’know, we bought each other the same Christmas present, or she wants to go see a movie that I’ve already seen, y’know. Then I come home and you and I have real problems, and you don’t want to see the movie I want to see period. There’s no lingerie –


I have lingerie.


Yes, you do, you have great lingerie, but you also have the cotton underwear that’s been washed a thousand times and it’s hanging on the thing, and…and they have it, too, it’s just I don’t have to see it, because it’s not the fantasy, you understand? I’m tired of the fantasy, because it doesn’t really exist, and there are never really any surprises and it never really…




Delivers. Right. And I’m tired of it. And I’m tired of everything else, for that matter, but I don’t see me ever getting tired of you.

And that’s just it – the fantasy. Modern culture’s concept of the perfect romantic love is a fantasy, a chasing of the wind (the broken kind, if you ask me).

The rest of the week we’ll be looking at some of the concepts brought up by in this post and seeing how it plays out in real life. I’ll be mining my own real life for inspiration so you know I’m not just talking out of my rear.

Here’s to the week of heart!

= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

SONG INSPIRED BY THE MUSE: Carol Brown by Flight of the Conchords


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  1. For the Week of Heart – Part 2 « As It Unfolds…

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