Thursday, August 04, 2005

True Romance

I'll admit that most people would probably categorize me as stereotypically hopeless when it comes to romance. Though I feel that this is an unfair, if altogether understandable, misapprehension. My idea of romance is more attuned to that of the sedate retired couple holding hands in their respective rocking-chairs. Easy. I haven't had the opportunity to discuss at length my romantic tendencies for a couple of reasons. First of all, I feel sort of silly describing them, and second of all, I don't really feel obligated in any way to justify myself in this regard. But just this once I'm going to go ahead and describe them in detail as I feel it would make an interesting story.
The only time I've had the chance to set my special brand of romance into effect, it didn't have the intended results. I was in a relationship with a woman for close to five years, wherein I tried my damnedest to recruit a follower of my philosophy, and instead drove her to leave me for someone that happened to seem more exciting and dynamic. That certainly wasn't the only telling point that made her decide to drop me like a bad habit, but I feel it was towards the top of a long list. I can't really blame her for feeling that way. I'll be the first to admit I can be boring at times. But that doesn't mean it didn't hurt.
First off, something that I've said many times and I'll try to just touch on rather than expound upon, I don't believe in marriage. While I very much believe in long-term monogamous relationships, I feel that the culmination of them shouldn't need to be an expensive party including clergy, lots of alcohol and legal documentation. That formula can be used many ways, and very few of them don't end up in disaster. If you don't feel permanent in a relationship, a photo album moment and a slip of paper isn't going to help.
Secondly, I don't want to have children or be responsible for raising them. This is something else I've discussed at length, so I don't feel it necessary to really go into it.
Another thing, the reason I will never live up to the fairy tale dreams of some women, I have a tendency to eschew the giving of love-letters and flowers, and focus instead on practical day-to-day things that a lot of people would never think of or notice. My idea of romance is making sure that whomever I'm with always has whatever it is that they want all the time. If they are a soda drinker, I'll notice when they're down to their last one and run to the store for more without being asked or telling them. If they're a gamer and there's a new game out I know they'll want to play, I'll buy it and install it on the computer before they can suggest it. Little things. Little things that should add up to show that I love them and want nothing more than for them to be happy. Unfortunately, it is the tendency of almost everyone to grow accustom to these things, and be more apt to notice the lack of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and love poems.
The last major difference of opinion I have with contemporary sentiment regarding romance is that two of the most romantic outings to me are shopping and laundry. Most people go in for the clandestine camping trip or the overnight stay at a nice bed and breakfast. And while I can appreciate these things as well, give me a shopping cart or a laundry basket and I'm in love. Nothing spells long term commitment to me like two people that can wander through a department or grocery store together, and ENJOY it. And I don't think that there is anything more blissfully domestic than working together doing laundry, playing cards or sitting close reading a book waiting for the next load. These are the things that I think of when I hear the term "romance." And that's why I'm likely doomed to dissatisfy women right and left, and in the long run get myself black-listed in everyone's day planners.

Greasy Spoon

I really like to juggle. Mind you this isn't something that I can honestly claim any real skill in, but it's something that I find myself reverting to in an occasional fit of boredom. I enjoy the act of juggling, or in my case attempting to juggle, much the same way as I like to balance things. It's not uncommon for a friend of mine to stop by or walk into the room and find me with a guilty expression on my face and a half-dozen things piled in no meaningful order into a leaning tower configuration, teetering on the brink of disaster on a coffee table. Sometimes I'll find joy in the simplest of things, such as seeing how long something will stand upright on it's pointed end. Sometimes this involves spinning the item, or just holding my finger on top until the air seems still enough for the stage to be set. But most often I end up going overboard with props. My most famous act I ripped off from my freshman physics book. It involves two forks, a butter knife, and a glass. Fit properly together the forks and knife can be balanced on the edge of the glass so as to teeter and not fall. I do this a lot when sitting in a booth at 4 a.m. drinking coffee.

Balancing things is close to an obsession of mine. It extends to every aspect of my life, and unfortunately, I don't seem to be as adept with more important things as I am with random knick-knacks. Balancing work with a relationship, or just a social life, is something that I've always struggled with. And while I've come to terms with my inadequacy in that department, I haven't yet met someone that's as patient with me as I am. Trouble starts when I really get interested or engaged in whatever work I'm doing at the time. If I'm involved with someone I tend to only be capable of holding a meaningful conversation if it is in regards to my work. I can still be an attentive listener, and a sympathetic ear, but anything I contribute seems to come out as either a paid endorsement of the company I work for, or an acceptance speech for employee of the month. This has landed me in trouble at various times in my life, and all with the same woman.

It's not something that I have previously been properly capable of relating to someone. But it's true. I don't see two precious and equal things that need balanced carefully and sensitively. I see one thing that I get up for, take a shower for, get dressed for, and get paid for, and another thing that's just kind of there when I get home. And while I realize that this balance is way off and if I use this framework it's all going to topple and I'm going to lose everything I care about, I have trouble recognizing it when I need to. But while for me the perfect relationship is one of comfort and simple companionship rather than heated passion, I envision the perfect job as something that's always exciting and new, something that challenges me and forces me to expand my horizons.

So in standing in my apartment looking for at least three things of relative weight to juggle it occurs to me that, this whole time, instead of two forks and a butter knife resting lightly, teetering on the edge of chipped plastic water cup on a counter top in an old diner, what I've really had was a shrimp fork and a pie server, stuck to a toothpick that keeps falling off the edge of the silver chalice I insist on placing it on. And while my friends are shaking their heads at my antics, I stand to proclaim my dominance over gravity as it tumbles and falls apart behind me.