Murphy’s Law – What’s love got to do with it?

Joel Murphy

February 14th, Valentine’s Day. I imagine that right now across this great country of ours, love is in the air. Love might be in the air here in the New England area, but it’s impossible to tell with all of the snow that has been falling outside. After all, nothing says romance like runny noses and bulky winter coats.

Two years ago, in a special Valentine’s Day edition of my popular Things that piss me off column, I wrote: “If you ask me, this holiday is nothing more than some lame excuse by the capitalist charlatans at Hallmark and Hershey’s Chocolate to line their corpulent pockets with even more cash by targeting the naive and ignorant! In other words – I’m single.”

Well, here we are two years later and while I am now engaged to a wonderful girl, my feelings on Valentine’s Day haven’t really changed much. Yes, I love my fiancée, but I don’t really think society needs to set aside a specific day for me to prove that love to her by giving her material possessions. She knows that I love her; I make it a point to tell her every day. I don’t need the clever wordsmiths at Hallmark to act as my wingman; I can tell her how I feel in my own words.

Luckily, the special lady in my life isn’t big on frivolous gifts. She’s not a huge chocolate or candy fan and she doesn’t like getting flowers because they shrivel and die. Her idea of the perfect gift is a Swiffer duster and a pack of cleaning wipes. She’s definitely not looking for me to go overboard today with a grand romantic gesture and for that, I am eternally gratefully. Perhaps that’s why we get along so well.

However, many of you guys out there aren’t so lucky. The ladies in your life are expecting John Cusack-caliber Valentine’s Day plans. They want you standing outside their window holding up a boombox playing “In Your Eyes” or rushing to the airport to stop them from getting on the plane before they leave your life forever. If you were both on a luxury cruise ship that hit an iceberg, they would expect you to float in the icy cold water while they hogged all of the space on a makeshift raft.

That’s because women have seen too many romantic movies. (Luckily, my fiancée doesn’t really like chick flicks – seriously, she’s the greatest woman ever.) Journalists always talk about how young males in this country become desensitized to violence because of what they see in movies and on television. But no one ever talks about the effect all of these romantic movies are having on young girls.

Or the effect that sitting through romantic comedies has on guys, for that matter. Media types always try to twist it and say that if I sit through Rambo or No Country For Old Men that I am more likely to want to commit random acts of violence when I leave the theater. But, I disagree. I am much more likely to want to bludgeon someone with a tire iron after sitting through two hours of Katherine Heigl wearing a variety of bridesmaid dresses than I am after watching two hours of John Rambo disemboweling bad guys.

At least testosterone-fueled guy movies tack on a frivolous love story to appease romantic comedy-loving women. Why can’t chick flicks reciprocate? Sure, occasionally you get a movie like Jerry Maguire that tosses guys a bone by throwing in a few football scenes, but most of these romantic movies are just overflowing with estrogen. Would it really be so tough to add in a scene into 27 Dresses where Katherine Heigl goes to a UFC match to look for single men or a scene in Fool’s Gold where a group of bloodthirsty pirates tries to stop Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson from getting the gold, so a shirtless McConaughey is forced to mow them all down with a semiautomatic machine gun?

But, I digress …

Aside from the yawn-inducing effect these movies have on most guys, the real problem is the affect these chick flicks have on women. Their ridiculous plotlines and cartoonish view of love create unrealistic expectations.

Women spend their whole lives looking for a Lloyd Dobbler or a Harry Burns. They think that they are supposed to meet a guy in a quirky, cute fashion, which will be followed by a brief, but wonderful courtship that will tragically end due after a series of miscommunications. It will look like the two of them will be unable to resolve their differences, but at the last minute, the guy will come up with an elaborate, over the top way to show his love and they will reconcile and kiss as the music starts up and everything fades to black.

The problem is – real life doesn’t work like that. In the real world, there is no fading to black. You never just roll the credits and live happily ever after. In reality, relationships are difficult and problems that arise aren’t usually solved in under two hours.

There are times when the person you love drives you absolutely crazy. But, you endure, because there are other times when everything is going right and you realize how lucky you are to have found someone who truly gets you. It’s not about candlelit dinners or soft-focus walks on the beach, love is about finding someone who you can badmouth your coworkers to while sitting on the couch in a pair of pajama pants.

So keep watching the romantic movies if you want, ladies. But just know that the portrayals of love are about as realistic as Die Hard‘s portrayal of police work.

And to the guys who will be sitting through a romantic comedy tonight, my heart goes out to you. I’ll think of you all when I’m surprising the woman I love with some Swiffer dusters and a package of cleaning wipes. Afterwards, I’m going to take her to the movies – to see Rambo.

Random Thought of the Week:
Once John McCain officially secures the Republican nomination, there is talk that he might try to convince Mike Huckabee to be his vice president in order to appease the conservative base. I think McCain should cut out the middle man and get Chuck Norris to be his running mate.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.


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