Most of the common wisdom about love is garbage. I know that’s a bold statement, especially since I admit that I don’t really know how love works. Well, I may not know how it works, but I can identify dumb statements about love. That’s just the same as me not knowing how an electron microscope works, but still being able to tell that someone is stupid when they say it’s powered by cotton candy and middle class guilt.
I present a few famous nuggets of “love wisdom.”
Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Unless love turns you into a saint who doesn’t care whether your spouse rolls over onto your hair in bed, this is just flat wrong.
All you need is love. Try getting five gallons of premium out of a gas pump by reading your impassioned love poetry to it.
It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. What if your first love was a strung-out street hustler who burned down your house before smuggling dope in your suitcase, stealing your credit cards, and leaving you stranded in Las Cruces, New Mexico? Wouldn’t it have been better never to have loved that son of a bitch at all?
Love is when you see a person’s flaws as perfection. I don’t care how much you love someone, you will never see toenail-picking and eating the last chocolate chip cookie as anything other than flaws.
If he loved me, he’d know what I want. Stop. Just stop already. Do I even have to explain why this is the stupidest thing anyone in love has ever said?
However, I admit that one piece of love folklore may be true. “Opposites attract” could be a true statement. In fact, if opposites do attract, my wife and I should be fused at the molecular level.
My wife and I aren’t opposite in any important ways, other than the entirety of how we interact with the universe. For example, my wife is more organized than me. I could write that sentence another thousand times and still not adequately emphasize how true it is. She’s the most organized person I know. Actually, she’s the most organized person I’ve ever heard of. She molds her world into an orderly existence. On the other hand, my existence resembles the inside of a clown car.
To illustrate how my wife approaches organization, we know that occasionally flipping a mattress is good for it. I know that. I owned a mattress for years before I met my wife, and I’m pretty certain I flipped it at least once. In my wife’s world, you flip the mattress when you change the sheets. You might skip it once if you have malaria or something, but otherwise it’s non-negotiable. Yet for my lovely wife, flipping a mattress is not enough. It has to be flipped end to end one time and side to side the next. And that’s still not enough. To insure that the mattress is flipped the right way each time, she ties ribbons to the mattress handles upon each flipping as a guide for which way the mattress must be flipped next time. No molecule of my being would have ever conceived that such a system was needful, nor even possible.
I’m not complaining. Our mattress is now ancient, yet it sags just moderately. Were it left to me, sleeping on our mattress would now be like sleeping in two foxholes. My wife has served us magnificently, but it shows how emphatically opposite we are.
In my wife’s world, secrets do not exist unless they are stamped “SECRET” in red block letters, and possibly given a code word like “Flapping Mudslide.” It’s okay if everybody knows everything, and all knowledge is shared indiscriminately. Things are far easier that way. I agree that secrets complicate matters, but sometimes I don’t want every single person we meet to know every fact, opinion, theory, and squiggly little detail about our lives. All right, I admit that I want hardly anyone in the world to know any of that stuff. It’s all right with me if three of our friends and a couple of family members know a few things, but even that makes me light-headed. Again, opposites attract.
Similarly, I tend to consider what I say to people before I say it. I don’t ponder my words, but I do pause to consider whether I’m about to say the most insulting thing ever spoken since Agamemnon called Achilles a “pancreas with pubic hair.” My wife dismisses such ridiculous delays in the flow of ideas, and her statements sometimes come across as blunt, rather like the Matterhorn falling on your foot. While this disconcerts some people, her friends value this quality. They’ve been known to ask each other something like “How do I look in this dress?” then be told, “You look great,” and then ask, “No, what would you say if you were Kathy?” That’s a level of frankness that few can claim. I know I can’t. Once again, opposites.
Over the years we’ve found that our opposite qualities often complement one another and sometimes drive us insane. I think the most fundamental way in which we’re opposite is our general approach to life. My wife strives to live a modest and wise life. She chooses things that will make her happy, and she works towards them by slow and relentless steps. I choose things that I think I’ll want, and that often have nothing to do with making me happy, and then I blast my way towards them. My wife embraces modest ambition and always succeeds. I expect I can accomplish anything. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I crash directly onto my face, leaving a trail of skin and teeth behind me in the gravel. I have never seen my wife fail when she committed herself to achieving something. She is incapable of quitting. I am eminently capable of quitting.
I’m not sure why opposites attract, and I’m not sure why that bit of love lore applies to us. But I’m glad it does. If it didn’t apply to us, then we’d both be developing intricate mattress-flipping schemes, rather than one of us standing by with his mouth open in astounded appreciation.