We need to talk.
You have a problem that needs to be addressed. No, I’m not here to have a sit-down with you about your unbridled love for expensive footwear. What I’m talking about is much more serious. (Although frankly, $200 is far too much for a pair of shoes unless there’s a hot man wearing them. Even if it’s on sale from $350.)
You, my friend, have been conned, misled, bamboozled. For years, you’ve been taught to believe in myth and fallacy while rationality fell by the wayside. By now, your view of the world has become so skewed that you can’t even discern the real from the imagined. The truth from a lie. The navy blue from black.
In case there’s any confusion, I’m not talking about your belief in organized religion. I respect everyone’s right to put faith in any ancient text they choose. But there is one source of doctrine and mythology that I do not endorse. A modern encapsulation of every flawed belief and incorrect assumption that only spawns grief and ruins lives: the romantic comedy.
Disguised as a beacon of light-hearted humor, the romantic comedy has been secretly wreaking havoc for years. Impressionable teens have been led to believe that flaunting your bikini body will get you into Harvard and that competitive cheerleading can help mitigate racial tensions. Naive young girls think that the popular jock has a sensitive side and a hidden desire to date below his station. Even grown women are convinced that stalking an attractive man in a coma will lead them to Mr. Right.
And you’re no better off than the rest of them. I’m sure you’d like to believe that your strong mind has been able to withstand years of this propaganda, but I know you too well for that. I know that when you trip and fall on campus you hope the perfect man will miraculously catch you in the nick of time. And I’m well aware that every time you lean in for your first kiss with a guy you half-expect Ingrid Michaelson to start playing softly in the background.
It’s alright, you can admit it. I already lost all my respect for you that time you asked me what the Lorax was, so there’s really no danger of me respecting you any less. Besides, I didn’t bring this up to cast judgment. I’m here to help you.
In this crazy mixed up world, sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s fact and what’s fiction. So to help you better distinguish the two, I’ve corrected some of the misconceptions that you might find in pretty much any Drew Barrymore film.
1. Love at first sight is a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder
It’s a beautiful thought isn’t it? That you could be walking down the street, spot a man out of the corner of your eye, and immediately know in your heart that you two are meant to be.
Well snap out of it, Stalkerella. The only thing you can tell just by looking at a man is how often he works out and what his butt looks like in jeans. Sure, the first time you meet a guy you might want to see if you two could develop into something, but that’s not love. That’s attraction. And mixing up the two is one of the reasons why teen pregnancy was so common in my high school.
2. It takes more than a haircut and a wax to look like a model
I know you’ve seen it many times before. The ugly duckling spends her life at the bottom of the social ladder, wishing that one day a guy will sweep her off her feet. Then suddenly, as if by magic, she’s beautiful! And all it took was a trip to the salon and rudimentary knowledge of foundation and eyeliner (see Miss Congeniality, She’s All That, Never Been Kissed).
While it’s true that haircare and makeup go a long way, they can’t run the marathon for you. And images of fictional women who go from heinous to Heidi Klum only makes it worse for those who can’t quite pull off that transformation. Just do what you can to look your best. Not everyone can pull off the beauty and grace of Miss United States.
3.Leaving your fiance at the altar is not a nice thing to do
It’s your wedding day, you’re wearing the perfect dress, walking down the aisle, when out of the corner of your eye you see him: the guy who you fell in love over the last hour and a half of the movie while your fiance was none the wiser. So, naturally, when you get to the altar you give an impassioned speech about true love before running off with your ‘soulmate.’
It happens all of the time in chick flicks (see Sweet Home Alabama, The Sweetest Thing, Made of Honor). You might think it makes you romantic. You might think it makes you honest. You know what it really makes you? A bitch.
At any point in the last few months of your engagement you could have told your fiance how you were feeling. But you had to wait until the DJ and caterer were paid for and all of his friends and family were watching. Your timing is impeccable.
4. That guy who’s rude to you doesn’t want to get into your pants
There might be a man in your life who is a bit of a challenge. A man who frequently insults you, makes fun of you in public, and gags at the very prospect of spending time with you. And when you see this man you probably think to yourself, “Wow. He’s probably in love with me.”
Seem as irrational to you as it does to me? Movies have often depicted the rude guy who clashes with the main character at first, only to realize in the end that she’s The One (see It’s a Boy Girl Thing, Life or Something Like It, Someone Like You). In real life, the rude guy who clashes with you is just rude. He isn’t masking feelings of love with a tough exterior; you genuinely get on his nerves. Don’t make a mistake by thinking otherwise.
5. Lovin’ don’t come easy
By now, you might have figured this one out yourself. In films, the guy and girl’s possible romance comes to a climax when they end up together one drunken night. Inevitably, their sex is incredible, making the girl realize how just how right they are for each other (see 27 Dresses, The Wedding Date). Well, at least until a conflict arises immediately afterward that breaks them up, only to be resolved in the last ten minutes.
This is where movies take a vast departure from the world of the real. Not only is sex with a new partner not immediately perfect, but drunken sex with a new partner can be less than stellar. Don’t give up if the first time isn’t amazing. Sex can take work sometimes.
6. Sometimes a nerd is just a nerd
Going to Carnegie Mellon, I find great humor in this one. The beautiful, perfect girl is in a relationship with an insensitive jock, while the nerd watches from the side, knowing in his heart that he’d be a much better fit. And after a series of misadventures, the nerd unleashes his inner Casanova, winning the heart of the girl he loves (see Revenge of the Nerds, 10 Things I Hate About You).
Not to rain on your parade, but sometimes a nerd is just a nerd. A good portion of socially deficient intellectuals can’t even get up the courage to talk to the opposite sex, let alone steal one from her intimidating boyfriend.
7. You aren’t the lead; you’re part of the ensemble
I understand that sometimes your life might feel like a movie, with you as the spunky protagonist attempting to triumph over the many hurdles that life throws at you, and your friends as the rag-tag group of supporting characters that help you along the way. But if your life were a movie it would be far more interesting and last less than two hours.
You need to understand that your friends are all the protagonists of their own lives. They don’t disappear when you’re not with them; they are off triumphing over their own hurdles. And their sole purpose isn’t to help you along the way. Most of the time, they have to help themselves first.
8. Your gay best friend has needs. And standards.
I find this perhaps the most offensive myth perpetuated in film, and that’s why I saved it for last. Amidst the dismal portrayals of gay men in romantic comedies, the gay friend is generally depicted as sexless, merely serving to make a bitchy quip every now and then and aid the straight woman in her quest for love (see My Best Friend’s Wedding, He’s Just Not That Into You). On the rare occasion that the gay friend is allowed to show attraction to another man, he usually is assigned to the only other gay character we’ve seen in the movie (see Sweet Home Alabama).
Now while I most definitely have a bitchy quip every now and then, there’s another very important thing that I have: a penis. And as I counsel my female friends in matters of the heart, I too yearn for the lovin’ of a decent man, and my criteria are a tad more complex than 1) gay, 2) male, and 3) nearby.
Take these words and learn them well, my child. Because if you expect life to work like a movie, you’ll spend too much time waiting for your problems to work themselves out instead of making the best of the situation yourself.
And that, my friend, is how one becomes a cat lady.