A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
There are places where it’s illegal for teenagers to have sex because the authorities are worried it might lead kids to the tango. The tango is Adults Only, any way you slice it. It takes sophistication and patience to understand the sensual rhythm of two people moving with each other when they’re barely touching. Exotic? Erotic? All of the above? Unfortunately, in our time, we don’t tango all that much. We let the professionals do it and watch, as if it were pornography. Why? I blame the “relationship.” This nasty euphemism has not only ruined the tango for ordinary people; it’s responsible for most of what’s wrong with love in the 21st century. Here’s the deal:
1 – What the hell does “relationship” even mean? Unlike love, there’s nothing special about a relationship. We all have relationships with any number of people, from our colleagues to the kid who delivers the pizza. Push comes to shove, I have a relationship with my houseplants: they’re beautiful, and I water them. If I don’t, they’ll crisp up and croak; then we both lose. Personally, I think using the same word to describe what’s going on with the love of your life and your $19.00 bougainvillea is just a bit dismissive.
2 – People are always talking about taking their “relationship” to another level. Look, (nudge/nudge, wink/wink) we all know this means sex. Folks, love is not a video game with orgasms. You don’t collect points for getting the dinner reservations right or remembering an anniversary, then cash them in some rainy night when you’re feeling lonely. That’s not how it works. Trying to figure out sex is difficult enough. Turning it into a Reward Challenge is just sick!
3 – “Relationship” words all suck. I want to “be with him.” I have “feelings for her.” Who are these people talking about — their grandmas? You can’t sterilize passion. Once you do, it isn’t passion anymore.
4 – People are always working at their “relationships” as if they were some kind of emotional salt mine. Honestly, if it’s that difficult, why bother? After all, love is supposed to be fun.
5 – And finally, being “in a relationship” sounds like you’re bunking in for the weekend (or maybe slightly longer.) The extraordinary connotation of the “relationship” is it’s temporary. It has a definite beginning, a middle and an end. I’ll grant you, few of us mate for life anymore, but I, for one, think love is valuable enough to at least give it a try.
People fall in love. We can’t help it. It’s marvelous and messy, but we shouldn’t try to institutionalize the romance out of it. When we do, we lose beautiful things like the tango. We don’t tango anymore because we’re too busy working on our “relationships.” We haven’t got time to see the person right in front of us and realize they’re hearing the music, too.