A while ago, a pal of mine told me she wished she could just find a guy like John Cusack’s character in Serendipity.
I was all, “Haha you’re so silly. You dummy. I hate you” since, uh, of course she had to be joking. Who in real life thinks that the ideal man is a fictional guy running around like a moron chasing after fate-clues that will lead him to his one true love who will make him happy and whole and perfect? Are there really people who want an obsessive loser who believes in fate? No one believes that. We all know that the idea of love presented in romantic comedies is crap. Right? Please. Right?
Nope! In the spirit of scientific research, I asked the internet. And to be thorough, I asked real live ladies, too, since the internet is, well, the internet. Both the internet and the real live ladies led me to the very scientific conclusion that even when we don’t necessarily reallllly believe that romantic comedy love is something that should be looked for or expected, it’s still something that’s wanted.
How on earth can anyone want someone who believes, essentially, in magic? How? Let’s just stop and think about that for one second, shall we? Here’s a breakdown of how relationships founded on a belief in destiny and magic shake out. Every time. Yes. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Here’s a footnote so you know I’m telling the truth: 1.
This is how it goes, sentimental freaks:
1. Lola, a fan of romantic comedies, is curled up on her couch gabbing with her token gay friend whose life revolves around not his own existence but Lola’s drama. “Oh Ricky,” sighs she, “When will Fate dump my own personal dreamboat into my life? My own special someone who will be perfect for me in every way? My own hunk of man who will know what I want without me even having to say it?” Ricky says something generic, yet wise, warm, and life-affirming.
2. The next day, she wakes up, shoves aside her dreams of love, dons her skirt suit, and heads off to the law firm where she has to act tough and no-nonsense in order to get respect in her male-dominated office. She dodges the nerdy intern, Maurice, who has a crush on her, and sits down at her desk just in time to answer her phone. It’s her ugly friend, Kate, whose life also revolves not around her own existence but around Lola’s drama. Kate is calling to remind Lola about that double date they’re having that evening. Kate and her fiance will be taking Lola out with Kate’s laid-back street performer friend, Max. Lola writes down the time and place on a notepad and stares off into the distance with a half-smile on her face. A street performer? No way this’ll go anywhere. But it’ll be a kick. What the heck?
3. Lola gets to the restaurant. It’s a fancy place. Max is there with Kate and her fiance. Lola stops in her tracks. Max is absolutely gorgeous, even though he’s dressed way too casual for the restaurant. The date begins. Sparks fly. The whole restaurant fades away. Lola only has eyes for Max. Everything he says is perfect. Everything he does is perfect. Gosh, he’s swell. Could he be The One? She’s feeling that awesome butterfly feeling. Love at first sight. Fate. Magic.
4. The restaurant clears out. Kate and her fiance left a while back (they said goodbye but Lola didn’t even notice). “Wow,” says Lola, “Time flies!” Max nods , smiles a dazzling smile, and asks her to go get a drink. She says yes and off they go. Kate slips out to the bathroom to call Ricky. She squeals the highlights of the date into her phone. She finishes up, “Could he be my soul mate, Ricky?” Ricky tells her she’s totally just got to put Fate to the test. If it’s meant to be, then it will work out. “No way, Ricky. What if it’s not Fate? What then?” she asks. Ricky replies, “Well then, gurrl, you don’t want it to work out anyway.” Truth, Ricky. Truth.
5. Back at the bar, Max is waiting for her. He smiles another dazzling smile and suggests they reconvene elsewhere. But Lola, bolstered by her chat with Ricky, says, “Max, I feel like we’ve got a connection here. Something beyond normal attraction. You know?” Max says, “Uh yeah. Totally.” Lola continues, “My life’s hectic, Max. I’ve had my heart broken before. Too many times. I don’t want to leap into anything if I’m not sure. I believe in Fate. If this is meant to be, Fate will guide us.” Max says, “Uhhh, yeah. Fate. I believe in that too. But, like, how’s it gonna guide us?” Dang this chick is weird. But she’s smokin’ hot. “Here,” Lola says. “When you leave a tip, you write your name and number down on a dollar bill.” Max was kinda hoping she’d be paying, seeing as how she was the lawyer and he was the street performer, but whatevs. He nods, and asks, “Sure. Then what?” Lola explains, “Well, then we just go our separate ways, and Fate will bring us back together. I’ll get change back at the coffee shop or whatever, and it’ll be the dollar with your number on it. That way, we’ll know.” Max agrees. They part ways. Perhaps forever.
6. Two weeks later, after looking at every single dollar with more and more despair, eventually her barista hands her a dollar with “Max. 555-555-5555” written on it. Whoa! Fate is real! Max is her magical other half! Lola calls him. He tells her he’s performing by that one fountain in Central Park with all the romantic significance. She just can’t wait to see him, so she blows off work even though there’s a huge meeting that might have made her career. She runs to the park. There he is in his one-man-band getup like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. They embrace. They kiss. It’s endearingly hilarious because of all the cymbals and drums and stuff he’s wearing. The crowd goes wild and throws all sorts of change into his violin case.
7. If this was a movie, this is where it’d end. But this is real life. It wasn’t fate at all that put that dollar in Lola’s hand. Max just stalked her for a few weeks and found out her usual coffee haunt. He then bribed the barista to slip Lola a new one dollar bill that he quick scribbled his name and number on. Easy-peasy. Fate Schmate. He feels a little bad about it, but since she’s pretty awesome, and smokin’ hot, and a lawyer, he figures he might as well go for it.
8. Their relationship goes on great for a bit. They both think the other one is awesome. But then, of course, the excitement of the beginning of a relationship fades away. Lola had interpreted the excitement at the beginning as proof of True Love, so she starts to feel disillusioned when it starts to fade. Has she messed up yet again? Slowly she starts to realize he’s not perfect. He keeps having long phone calls with his ex he broke up with a week before meeting her, he seems to have stopped working his one-man-band gig and now he just hangs out at her place all the time eating all the Pringles, his views on politics/religion/etc. are actually totally at odds with hers sometimes, and when she’s mad he doesn’t intuitively know why, so she has to actually communicate with him. Things aren’t so hot anymore for Max either. He’s starting to feel guilty about taking fate into his own hands since she so clearly believes in that garbage. Also, he’s starting to feel the pressure of having to be perfect for her. He knows Fate’s stupid, but she doesn’t, so he finds himself being a different version of himself. He doesn’t want to lose her, so he starts to be what he thinks she wants him to be. Until it all just gets too exhausting. Then his secret about the dollar comes out. The relationship ends. And Lola still believes in Fate since he cheated when he did the thing with the dollar. Her real magical other half is still out there somewhere.
See, that’s what believing in Fate gets you. Sad, huh?
Lola thought that Max was her magical other half, but she was an idiot. Fate isn’t a thing. In real life, that intense attraction at the beginning of a relationship isn’t a sign from the stars that this person is your missing half. It’s a biological response to keep the human race going. It fades. Sure, it’s a part of real love, but it isn’t all there is to real love. Real love needs effort. It’s not all about passively sitting back and being adored forever and ever. You have to do some work and some communicating and some sighing because the person you’re with listens to some super stupid music. Real love (and yeah I’m going to define love here since I know everything) is about caring about your partner, being their friend, overlooking their questionable music taste, and helping them as they go through life. Maybe introducing them to The Devil Makes Three or Old Crow Medicine Show or Todd Snider, since sure you can’t change a person, but it can’t hurt to try to at least get them to listen to some actual fun music every now and then instead of that discordant trash that sounds like three different songs are all playing at the same time. Just because you technically can do that with a saxophone, that doesn’t make it right, dude. Come on.
If you believe in Fate, then when the magic simmers down and your relationship starts to inevitably become imperfect, you think you’ve made a terrible mistake and you bail on it because clearly you haven’t found your true love. So, instead of stepping back and thinking, “Huh, maybe even though this person isn’t absolute and utter perfection, I bet we can do this thing anyway,” you jump ship and wait for the next round of magic, hoping that this time the feeling will stick forever so you can live in eternal bliss without having to exert any energy or face any difficulties since Fate would never make you work or give you obstacles! You’re super important, and the universe totally cares a whole lot about you, so it wants you to stagnate in a straightforward, simple, unchallenging life where you never have to think or have any tests.
So that’s one of many reasons why romantic comedies are stupid. But we’re stuck with them, since it isn’t as though people are all of a sudden going to start making movies and writing stories about healthy, committed relationships. No one wants to sit through that boring trash.
1 Dude, you’re reading something on the internet.