A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I’m in love with Love. I think the word “relationship” is tawdry code for “Maybe I don’t love you all that much.” So, with only two more sleeps ’til St. Valentine’s Day, it’s time to remember what love used to be in the old days. But DO you remember? Here’s a chance to test your own romantic IQ. See if you can figure out just who these great lovers were. Some are classic; some not so much; and sorry, no Romeo and Juliet. Good luck!
A — It was just your average love story. Boy meets girl; they fall in love. Nazis invade France. Boy loses girl. Girl goes back to her husband. Boy opens a bar, tries to forget and gets 2 free tickets to Lisbon. Girl shows up one night, with her husband in tow. Boy forgets about forgetting. Girl wants the tickets. Husband wants the tickets. Nazis stride around, looking evil. Husband finally figures things out. Not very complicated, really, but when you throw in a corrupt French official, some treacherous expats and a dozen or so champagne cocktails, it becomes one of the greatest love stories of all time.
B — He was a bachelor who enjoyed hunting and fishing, lying around in his underwear, grunting and scratching himself. She was from Baltimore. It was love at first sight — he’d never seen anything like her before in his life. Typically, they spent their first date rather awkwardly trying to make conversation, but eventually she taught him how to open up and express himself. Like most women, she was a civilizing influence on him and eventually he ended up in the British Parliament. However, they always returned to his bachelor pad, where they first fell in love.
C — Even though it was actually an arranged marriage, it was definitely a match made in heaven. These two crazy kids were literally in a world of their own. They had so much in common it was like they were made for each other. Unfortunately, every romance has its rocky bits, and, although most couples argue about sex or money, these two disagreed over the landlord. Eventually, to keep peace, he sided with her, and, as a result, they were evicted. However, they stuck with each other through all the hardships and raised a huge extended family — although some would say they’ve been homeless ever since.
D — She was the most beautiful woman of her age, and he was the world’s greatest warrior. They were married — but not to each other. He embodied the hope of a nation at war, whereas she had a reputation that qualified her for a Dr. Phil special (She’d once been used to pay off a gambling debt.) However, love conquers all, and they ran off together to travel across Europe — oddly enough. with her husband in tow. When the three of them finally settled in England, his enraged wife and the British public were not quite so sporting. Still, for a time, they were happy. Unfortunately, duty called and he was killed in battle, and beautiful or not, she was tossed out on her reputation. She died in poverty — alone with her memories.
A couple of quickies:
E — It was an arranged marriage that turned into pure love. Although they were literally “kissin’ cousins,” they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. The poets sang (in some detail) about their erotic adventures, and they had 14 children. Unfortunately, she died young and he mourned her for 35 years. Today, they lie side by side, in a mausoleum he built for her — together forever.
F — It was an arranged marriage that turned into pure love. Although they were literally “kissin’ cousins,” they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. They had 9 children and the recorded details of their marriage were so scandalous that their eldest daughter burned the diaries. Unfortunately, he died young and she mourned him for 40 years. Today, they lie side by side, in a mausoleum she built for him — together forever.
G — It was a mismatch for the ages. He was the world’s most eligible bachelor, rich and famous, with all kinds of handsome thrown in. She was from Baltimore. He was waited on hand and foot. Literally! The guy didn’t even dress himself! She was more of a hamburger-and-fries girl, from the school of hard knocks. For example, she learned about love and marriage through trial and error. Rumor has it that she gave frequent flyer miles. Needless to say, his family didn’t approve of the marriage, but he insisted and when they said no — he “gave it all up for the woman he loved.” And they stayed together for the rest of their lives, traveling the world — purposeless and tragically romantic.
H — They met under rather unusual circumstances. He robbed her, kidnapped her, and took her back to his hideout, but some girls just love an outlaw. He was definitely a guy who played by his own rules and didn’t like authority, but she was convinced that society had made him that way. Love blossomed, even though it was a long distance romance with the local law enforcement firmly in the middle. However, the two of them did manage to steal a few kisses over the years (along with anything else that wasn’t nailed down) and they were happy. Fortunately, times changed; our boy gave up his thieving ways, and the two of them did finally settle down. I think sometimes, though, after the kids were in bed, they’d go out and steal something — just to rekindle the romance.
I — They say politics makes strange bedfellows, but when you’re dealing with the fate of the world, love has a habit of getting in the way. She was a political wunderkind who understood that power didn’t necessarily come out of the barrel of a gun. He was naive. She was living with his best friend. He had an extra-large army. When politics raised its ugly head and the best friend was killed she didn’t waste any time finding him and getting behind that extra-large army. But fate wouldn’t rest, and they fell in love. Suddenly, all bets were off and politics weren’t that important anymore. He gave her the largest wedding present in history, but in the end, it was she who was naïve and he who couldn’t live without her.
J — Finally, who is the Number One Greatest Lover in all history? This guy makes Casanova, Don Juan and Johnny Depp all look like clumsy geeks. He has been curling girls around his little finger his entire life. He has so much sex appeal the mere mention of his name has virgins quivering. No woman can resist him, and every man would be happy with the leftovers. And here’s a hint: according to rumors he’s juggling the hearts of 3 women — even as we speak.
Bonus Question (If you can answer this one, you’re really good.)
K — She was nothing special. He was from Baltimore. They met on a blind date: he was blind drunk, and she was working hard to keep up. From there, they spent the next 30 years madly in love, chasing each other back and forth across America, fighting and drinking, splitting up and getting back together. He did nothing less than create a whole new style of fiction and one of the most enduring characters in American literature. She did nothing more than defy the American government, help him get out of jail and stay with him when he became too sick to live and too scared to die. That’s why they call it love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
(answers on February 14th)