Monday, May 9, 2016

Everything I Know About Love...

I strongly considered just posting the title and then leaving a blank entry. Not only would that have been hilarious to the swarms of crazed fans and readers of this blog, it would have also been a fairly accurate summary of everything I know about love.

I’ve tried to learn about love. I really have. People who know me well, might disagree, because I don’t date all that frequently. But what they don’t know is how many hours I spend researching by watching chick flicks, romantic comedies, and high school teen dramas. I have seen every episode of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and I recently, as a research effort, attempted to watch ‘One Tree Hill.’

Side Note: I made it through the first season, and I was admittedly learning TONS about love. But it just seemed a bit unrealistic to me. Not the love. No that was real. Maybe too real. I mean, I can’t tell you how many emancipated minors there were at my high school who got married shortly into their junior year. That’s some serious, real love between mature 16 year olds no doubt. And I do think it’s pretty believable that two kids who are actually estranged half-brothers would end up playing a one-on-one streetball game to determine which one of them can stay on the school's basketball team, because they just can’t both be on it. They hate eachother so much. And then later are able to overcome their hatred of each other to win the state basketball championship as a team. Something similar actually happened to me when I was in high school, but it wasn’t basketball related. It had to do with the woodwind section of the symphonic band. And it wasn’t my half-brother, it was just another kid. But he did accuse me of cheating in the 6th grade geography bee so there were some strong feelings on both sides. But anyway, all of that stuff was totally believable. What I couldn’t get on board with were all of the comas. I think every main character at some point is in a coma at least once during the first season, which takes place in less than one calendar year! The main character, Lucas, I’m pretty sure is in a coma in every other episode. Think of the lasting brain damage he would have! Not to mention the outrageous hospital bills that Lucas and his mother, who just owns a small diner and is definitely paying her own insurance (although this is pre-ObamaCare, so it may not have been that bad), will be paying off for the foreseeable future. Sorry Lucas! There goes your college fund to pay for hospital bills. And you can forget about that basketball scholarship, because no one is taking a chance on a kid who is constantly slipping in and out of comas. And your coach just retired because he has cancer and I think is planning to be in an extended coma as well. So yeah it was just a little too unbelievable for me. And this is coming from a guy who made it through all of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ with no issues.

So I’ve done all of this research and I feel like if the world operated like a movie or a show, I would be married. But unfortunately love in the real life world absolutely does NOT operate like the movies or  television shows (although sometimes the shows don’t operate like shows either. I mean, in a perfect world wouldn’t Dawson have ended up with Joey Potter? I mean it’s called Dawson’s Creek. And yet Pacey gets the girl in the end. Not that I’m complaining. Pacey is clearly the better man. Also, they both have stupid names).

Here’s an analogy to just give you an insight into my experience with love so far:
Some of you may have heard me explain this before. But just imagine a rat or a mouse...or some other type of small rodent. Just visualize any small animal that could be experimented on in a scientific lab I guess...actually let’s stick with a rat.. We’ve probably all heard that rats can be placed in a maze with a reward (maybe cheese?) at the end of it. And then the rat can be conditioned to find the most direct path to the cheese every time it is placed in the maze. It’s simple. You just give the rat a little shock each time it goes in the wrong direction. Eventually the rat learns which direction to go in order to not get shocked and get the reward. Well, imagine with now another maze. And in this maze the rat is also promised a reward if it gets through. BUT the difference is that whoever is supposed to be in charge of shocking the rat when it goes in the wrong direction is just shocking the rat every time it goes in ANY direction. So what happens to the rat? Does it just keep attempting to navigate the maze? Probably not if it feels it has tried every path and is only going to get shocked no matter which way it goes. So what does it do? Nothing. It sits at the entrance to the maze trying not to move so it can avoid painful shocks. It has been told of the cheese at the end of the maze, but it hasn’t ever seen it or even sniffed iit. It’s just a rumor of cheese and a shock for any attempt to find it. Maybe if the rat just works on himself a little he can avoid getting shocked? Or maybe he needs to find and love himself before he can find the cheese? Or maybe if he tries some grand gesture to get through the maze and just approaches the maze with more confidence? Or maybe if he learns how to play certain games he can trick the maze into letting him get that cheese? Or maybe he needs to lower his expectations of the cheese and be willing to settle for some cheese he doesn’t really want, but can accept because he needs to eat something, right? Or maybe he just needs to be himself, and to be honest about how much he wants the cheese, and then the cheese will find him?

Nope. Still gets shocked each time he takes a step.

Ok I know what you are thinking. This sounds like some deep-seated and slightly morbid psychological issue that I have, and I should get professional help. Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, you’re not wrong. I recognize the issue. And I’m getting the form of this book given to me by my concerned Grandpa!!!

Thanks Grandpa. This is sure to be as effective in helping me understand love as the KissStix you gave me several years ago (This is true. He gave them to me to get me motivated to take (and get) some action in the dating arena. KissStix are flavored lip balm. You wear one flavor, and someone else wears the other and then you put them together to make a delicious flavor combination. I used them a little differently, putting one flavor on my top lip and the other on my bottom lip. Still got the delicious flavor combo, without having to put my mouth on another human’s mouth. #winning)

Chapsitck side note: I’m a simple man. And I currently have only one goal I’m working towards. That goal is to use a chapstick from start to finish, in it’s entirety. Like, get all the way to the bottom of the chapstick. I don’t know what’s at the bottom of a chapstick because I’ve never been able to do this without losing it first, washing it in the washing machine, or melting it on accident by leaving it in my car. I’m actually not even sure if it’s possible to use an entire chapstick. If anyone reading this has ever accomplished this seemingly impossible feat, please comment below with tips/strategy. Thanks.

In all seriousness though I want to really say something here. I am not sure if I have too many personal obstacles in my life (mainly the problem is my brain that ruins everything for me by thinking about stuff all the time) to experience love for myself. But I DO know that it exists. I’ve seen it. And I’m not talking about movies or TV shows. I’m talking the real deal.

My grandparents have been married for over 60 years, happily. And for at least 50 of those years, my Grandmother suffered painfully with rheumatoid arthritis, which slowly destroyed her joints, and her body. It took her ability to walk about 10 years ago and contributed to several other health issues along the way. She passed away just a few weeks ago after enduring well a life of pain and physical hardship. She may have complained privately or to others, but she never mentioned it once to me in 33 years.  And, in my opinion, her condition didn’t beat her. She left us when she was good and ready.
And equally as impressive as my Grandma’s will to live and endure, is the fact that my wonderful Grandpa has devoted his life for those 50 years to caring for her, day in and day out. Well into his 80’s he continued to wait on her, seeing to her every need. Feeding her and cleaning her and lifting her in and out of chairs and beds by himself. I’ve witnessed many a tender moment in their home when my Grandpa, without hesitation, will stop what he’s doing to scratch an itch that she just can’t reach, or rub her aching head. Whether he will admit it or not, he is indeed the most selfless man I’ve ever known.

Their love story will not be made into a movie or television show. Because it simply can’t be. Love and devotion like that can only be conveyed over a lifetime.

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa, for teaching me everything I will ever need to know about love.