NOTE – While I am offline writing fiction and ignoring my blog, I’ve decided to post a few pieces that 99% of you have never read or heard of.
Romance, l’amour, that’s amore, gettin’ freaky.
Everybody, from the most social of butterflies to the cave-dwelling hermit, loves when romance rears its often misleading head. As is most often the case, new love starts off strong and intense, but soon fizzles out once the blinds of love are removed and each person realizes how loathsome the other really is. That isn’t to say that avoiding romance altogether is the road best traveled. Instead, when romance comes your way, embrace it. But, embrace it the way you might a baby cougar. While it’s still cute and innocent, enjoy it. But, the moment its claws sharpen, the moment its appetite is piqued at the first sight of blood, put it in a box marked CANDY and mail it to your nearest enemy.
There are many romances that can cause disappointment, but such is life. ‘It’s better to have loved and lost…’ and all that. Such things make us better people. Still, there is one romance to be weary of, one to be actively avoided, as a matter of fact. That is the one termed ‘the rebound’.
The rebound is the romance that takes place immediately following a strenuous breakup, where the one on the rebound, whom we’ll call X, has had their life turned upside down and is looking for something to hold onto (insert violin strings of sympathy here). The difficulty is knowing whether the romance you find yourself on the receiving end of is a rebound or not. Fortunately, there do exist a few telltale signs you can look for. The following list has been accumulated after extensive research by dozens of psychologists at the Berlin Institute of Getting Lucky.
After meeting X and hitting it off beyond your wildest dreams, you find yourself invited to their home. While X is preparing cocktails for two, you amuse yourself by perusing the family photos that hang on the wall. “You and your brother are very close,” you say, to which X replies, “I don’t have a brother.” — “Your cousin, then.” — “ I have no cousins.” — “Well, you and the mailman seem very close.” — Bringing your drink, X looks at the photo in question and says, after a quick gulp of cocktail, “Oh, that. That’s Y, my ex.” (insert ominous kettle drum or bassoon here)
Unless you’re an idiot, you should avoid asking the natural follow-up question at all costs, much the way you should avoid pulling a cork jammed into a hole in a dam. “How long have you been broken up?” –You idiot!
“Oh, a few weeks,” X says nonchalantly. Then, just as you feel the topic has quickly reached its end, X adds, “Yeah, we were together for…” and you begin sipping your drink as you listen to the Greek tragedy that was X and Y.
As the evening goes on, dialogues segue from one to another, one anecdote leads to the next, but you quickly learn that Y is surprisingly versatile as a subject and applicable in every topic of conversation. Disneyland? “Y and I went there last summer. We made out on the People Mover.” The theories of plumbing? “Y’s father was a plumber. Did you know that the Romans had a system of plumbing? Anyway, that’s what Y said.” The proper technique for removing the stain from the drink you just spilled on your shirt. “You know, Y had a shirt just like that.”
At this point, I suggest you throw that particular shirt into the nearest house fire and get out of there. But, if you are inclined to give the benefit of the doubt (or if you’re just blinded by cocktail-ed lust), you will stick it out a while longer. If you do, be advised to keep your eyes open and tread lightly.
Chalking up the first sign to X’s deeming you worthy of interpersonal communication, you convince yourself that X is truly into you and someone that should be pursued further. After a few days, maybe even sooner, romantic liaisons proceed the natural route and you find yourself in an intimate situation with X. Afterwards, you are surprised when X, who seemed pleased with your presence just moments before, begins sobbing into a pillow. Had you made some terrible error in judgment? Were you that bad of a kisser? You replay the preceding moments in your head (for $.25 a peek, of course. A good deal, when you think about it), but feel confident that you performed without error. You ask what’s wrong. “I feel weird,” X says.
“Is it because I called you Pumpkin Butt?” you ask. “It was meant as a compliment, really.”
“It’s….it’s just that….”
“You’re not Y.” (insert shrieking flute here)
It is best for you to retain what little of your dignity still remains and leave X for good. After all, X isn’t the only fish in the sea. X isn’t a fish, at all, as a matter of fact. What about the teller at the bank who seemed complimentary after your $200 deposit? Or the barista who drew that heart-shape into the foam of your cappuccino? Oh, but I forgot, you have a guilty conscience. You’d feel like a Nazi if you left X now, sobbing, sad, alone. Well, so what? Be a Nazi. The Nuremberg trials are long over, you’ll be safe. But, you don’t leave, do you? Nope. And why? Because that’s the type of person you are. *shakes head and sigh*
Ten days into the relationship, X says something that throws aside all conventionality of relationship etiquette, that little phrase which has led to more candy heart inscriptions than Mother’s Day and Secretary’s Day combined; that phrase that some people wait their whole lives to hear, that phrase that other people spend their whole lives trying to avoid. “I love you,” X says with the big grin of a soda pop spokesperson. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” X sings, despite a lack of melody or formal training.
Although flattered, you remind X that you’ve only known each other for ten days. X insists that their emotions are true and you, being the attention-deprived you that we all know you to be, refrain from debating it any further and accept it as truth. (insert waning harp strings here)
This third sign is the most important because it represents the pinnacle of your relationship with X, the top of your Mt. Kilimanjaro. From here on out, it will disintegrate into a rapid decay.
If I could slap some sense into you from beyond the written word, I would gladly risk the assault charges. X doesn’t actually love you, X still loves Y and is trying to fill a void with a Y substitute. In the dramatic play of X, you’re nothing but an unprepared understudy. The theater owner has to go on stage before the curtain rises to tell a disappointed audience that Y will not be performing, that the part of Y will instead be played by you. By the time your first cue arrives, you enter from stage left only to find half of the audience has gone, while the remaining half entertains themselves with a few rounds of travel Boggle. Let X’s heartfelt declaration of love be your cue to get the hell off of that stage. Run! Don’t even bother changing out of your costume, let them bill you for it. Just run. It’s only a matter of time before X realizes you are no Y and auditions for a replacement will be scheduled the following day. You? You never had a chance. (insert sad, Chaplin walking into the sunset-like orchestration here)
I hope this has been informative and will serve as a screening tool for your future romances. If you see any of these signs beginning to emerge, make a hasty retreat and congratulate yourself on a job well done. But, if you see these signs emerge and still choose to ignore them, then you, my friend, are nothing but a damned fool.
Then again, what do I know? I have not studied sociology, nor have I a degree in psychology or any other relevant science. I am not an expert on interpersonal relationships and not someone who gives advice out professionally, neither in print where I answer letters from readers or on a radio show syndicated in several AM markets. I’m just a person, no better than the cave-dwelling hermit.
Actually, the cave-dwelling hermit might have one up on me. After all, it was me, not him, that was, at one time, a damned fool.