Chapter 59. Last Valentine´s Day

This is a day for lovers they say, for people in love who crave each other or who stick together nevertheless. The rose, the date the chocolate mousse and the usual gift or marriage proposal. Note to all boyfriends: let Valentine´s Day alone, just do the dinner part and leave the marriage proposal for another day, will you?

Proposing on Valentine´s Day is tacky. Let´s name other tacky things that people do when in love: go to Venice, go to Paris, go to Rome, get matching tattoos, eating strawberries and champagne at a hotel room, make love on top of rose petals spread on the bed, get a couple´s massage, feed each other food in front of other people (gross) kiss with tongue at a restaurant after a toast, proposing at a restaurant, pick up your date in a limousine.

There are so many things….I have done them all. Well, except for the tattoos, crocodile and Mrs. Reggaeton did that…what can I do? They are tackier than me.

The thing is. A year ago I was sitting at the kitchen counter with a cigarette and a cup of coffee at the crocodile´s pond and I felt so restless that I opened my laptop and started to write this blog. Hours after the first post “He was so damn perfect that I left him for a crocodile” I had over 350 visits and messages from women all over the world. Who is this crocodile and why have we all had one in our lives?

Crocodile is any men, who has taken a woman for granted.

He is the guy that do not buy you flowers, does not remember your birthday, doesn’t ask how your day was, does not show any interest to meet or spend time with your friends, or you, for that matter. He is the asshole who stands you up at an island when he is supposed to meet you there for a few days, the one that asks for attention when he is sick but does not even lay next to you when you are sick. He always picks up the movie, tells you that you are fat after deliverying his baby and if you have post partum depression, he wakes you up in the middle of the night and calls you a bad mother.

A year ago I was alone on Valentine´s Day, writing this blog.

I did not go out to dinner a year ago, I got a lousy T-shirt and one yellow rose one day later. Crocodile style. The man who managed to hurt me and make me feel inadequate and insignificant even when pretending to be doing the right thing.

This year I will buy myself flowers, lots of them.  I will toast to myself at home with a glass of nice wine named after me and a big smile on because the best is yet to come. Maybe I will be alone, maybe not.

Chapter 55. You´ve got everything you need, you are a woman. Don´t look back.

So you are now alone with your kids in a small place and a reduced income while your ex is out having fun and spending money? Don’t worry, you are not alone.

Crocodile used to call the kids on a Friday night from New Orleans with music in the background and claim that he was there for work. It is simply what men do when they go through a break-up. They put themselves first.

Let’s talk about the wonderful and miraculous process that most men go through when you leave them or when they leave you after many years of marriage.  First, they call their friends, then, they run back to their mothers and last but not least, they go party and spend money.

A lot.

All the money that they did not spend taking you out to dinner or buying you something nice, they will now spend on buying drinks and presents to complete strangers with the sole purpose of enjoying themselves. All those trips that they did not take with you they will now take with their friends to prove that their brotherhood is more important and that they are better off now that you are gone.

They will loose weight, change their hair, go shopping for new clothes, stop doing all the things that bothered you so much and start doing the ones you always wanted. To top it all, they will look better than ever and start treating you with despise, like you don’t matter, like they don’t care about you, like they don’t know you anymore and like they don’t have to acknowledge all the things the many things that you compromised in your life to bring happiness to theirs and the whole family.

Now they have to pay you. And it does not matter if their disposable income has increased since you and the kids are gone, and it does not matter if you have now found yourself in a much worse situation, doing all of the work, incapable of earning as much as he does because when the clock strikes 7 you are up making breakfast and packing snacks and when the clock strikes 4 pm you are at some playground or grocery shop. Now you have to take the kids to soccer practice, games, birthday parties and music lessons. It does not matter. Now, in their mind, they have to pay you. They are told by the judges that the money is not for you but for the kids, they are told that it is the law, they are told all those things yes. But they still hate the fact that they have to pay you.

Some, being able to pay, will pay child support, and complain about it in any chance they get. Because they pay, they will expect you to have less rights than them when it comes to your schedule or your plans.

Others, too many of them will not pay out of disdain or because they have heard that you are with someone new and is their form of revenge.

Most men’s lives will go on easily after the divorce, the increased fun and free time will make them forget all about you, the kids crying at the dinner table and waking up in the middle of the night or early on a Saturday morning is a thing of the past for them now. The return to a bachelor life will make them feel happier and free.

The woman on the other hand will be alone with all the work and society will see that normal. She is the mother. If the father assumes that responsibility he is some kind of super hero.

And that is how the story goes for many women and why many prefer to put up with a selfish asshole that they no longer love.

Chapter 25. Impossible love is more fun

Eccentric couples are more interesting. Cross cultural marriages and different age unions no longer surprise us.

They came in vogue when Bowie married Iman, when Nicole Kidman started dating Tom Cruise. Michael Jackson, Priscilla Presley and Woody Allen consolidated this trend, setting the bar quite high for the rest. Katherine Zeta Jones married Michael Douglas, Aston and Demi did the same. The list is long and continues to expand today even amongst royalty.

From this I conclude that people are looking for challenging projects and “rare” animals to domesticate that make their lives more interesting, entertaining, unique and meaningful. We are looking for a meaningful existence.

Movies have always contributed to the trend of impossible love stories. Think of Tarzan and Jane, King Kong and Anne, Pocahontas and John Smith, Aladdin and Jasmine, and of course, Crocodile Dundee (Mike) and Susan, last but not least, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Yes, impossible love stories make better blockbusters. We want to believe in their feasibility.

Most of those couples were unlikely to stick together and if they did, they probably had to work really hard for it. The reason, always the same: cultural differences.

You don’t need to marry into another country to marry into another culture. You don’t even need to marry into another culture to marry into another culture. Simply try marrying someone 25 years younger or older than you or marry into a family with different political views or different level of education or something as simple as a different zip code or region. Any of these factors suffice to have challenging family gatherings.

When choosing a partner some people are looking for compatibility of characters and hobbies and values while others feel more attracted to the opposite pole which explains why nice girls from nice families have always had a tendency to fall for the rebel kid in high school.

But when you are a middle age woman you understand that life is challenging enough, so your partner or the person that you choose to create a family should not add more stress to the party. Rather, the sensible thing would be for your family or couple to provide a sense of comfort and a refuge from the harsh outside world. But after a while, we find that boring and unfulfilling.

Charles Dickens, known as the urban writer, had a feeling for human character. He lived during the Victorian era and Victorians were great cultivators of family life. Dickens described the family as “the subculture where the distressed can ultimately find hope and refuge from the ruthlessness of society at large” so why would we want to take a crocodile home for that matter? or a guy like Tarzan? Why would we want to fall for the rebel of the class and expect him to become the perfect companion or father to our children later on? No, women at a certain age should know better than that. And yet we don’t.

There are way too many successful middle age women dating impossible projects and adding more stress to their naturally stressful lives. There are way too many women complaining about the lack of rush in their marriages, the lack of excitement and claiming more individuality in their relationship. The same can be said for men who have beautiful loving wives and still feel the need to have an affair with pretty much whomever.

Could it be that we want the excitement and the comfort at the same time?

 

Chapter 24. Marriage after love

Watching a 60 year old couple dancing happily or holding hands after many years of marriage is the most conforting thing.

I was watching my great aunts’ favorite tv show and there was this couple who had met 47 years ago at a ball and there they were, on a prime time tv show for retired people, performing together while looking into each others eyes. Normally this could be considered an example for all of us who struggle to just keep the same pace when the song starts.

This couple was nothing like that, they seemed to really enjoy each other and that is more than most couples can say nowadays.

Many couples stick together for the sake of their kids or for their own well being. They base their marriage on patience, mutual respect and understanding that their union, once sealed, must be preserved in spite of their own needs or feelings of boredom and apathy towards one another. They justify their marriage on religious or moral beliefs, whatever works. They enter the universe of marriage after love (by love here I mean infatuation). They find happiness on watching their project (family) grow in a safe environment. Because the truth is that family as a whole does better when the family sticks together pushing and pulling in the same direction.

Perhaps there are couples who are able to put all of this together while keeping the flame alive, those are the really blessed ones. But the large majority settle for the comfort of having someone else calling the same place home. To pick up the mail, to collect the kids, to help pay the bills, to look after the dog, to have lunch on Sundays when the kids are gone, to be better off, to go to dinner parties with other couples who are on the same boat, in short, to grow old more comfortably in a more bourgeois setting. Because there is something worse than being alone and that is to be alone and not have enough to make ends meet, and there is something worse than to grow old and that is to grow old alone.

So is marriage after love a matter of convenience or an act of love by itself?

In many cases we could say both. All human beings are looking for happiness and in many instances, that means personal satisfaction and convenience as well. Convenience sometimes means staying in an otherwise dead end marriage, they experience (as Charles Dickens calls it) the clash between the individual and society. They go with society, so that a mutual project can unfold, children can have the bigger house or take that family trip, to make sure that they go to a good university when they graduate high school and still have a place to call home.

If you are unable to settle for that conventional lifestyle or you don’t feel like doing the family/couple thing because you are more of an individual, or if circumstances force you to live your life differently, do not panic, you can be just as content, if not more.

Chapter 23. Under the crocodile spell

Being infatuated is a state of grace. You can spend countless hours thinking about the other person. You die in anticipation to see him or her and you feel like you are floating. Nothing bothers you, you are at peace with the world and the only thing that matters is your obsession towards the object of your desire. They call it cloud nine.

We rush to call that feeling love when in fact is sexual attraction, infatuation. The same reason that makes you feel that that person’s body odour is pleasant or inexistent. We pay little attention to how important BO is when in fact, it plays a very important role in this thing that we call “love”. When you are “in love” you find your partners natural odour delightful and when you are “out of love” you find it disgusting. It is as simple as that so take good note of that sign.

They say love makes you not only happier but better looking. Whenever you are in love “you glow”, your teeth are whiter and you look great in all the pictures.

Perhaps you have to go back to those first days or months of infatuation to justify your relationship today. You may find yourself wishing to feel the way that you felt back then or you might have to admit that thrill is gone and you feel bored and anxious because you are lacking some excitement. Or the day might come when you have to admit that your partner has “fallen” for someone else.

Love is in that sense, ruthless. They say it plays by its own rules or lack thereof and that we must simply admit that it is the way that it is.

I recently read the following sentence “The death of love is life and life without love is death” and I am not sure if the author was referring to rational mature love or crazy infatuation. Perhaps humans have always felt confused and writers, when writing about love, have referred to both concepts indistinctively, which has caused great confusion amongst readers and what constitutes love.

Some people are more romantic than others and are able to live and preserve a romantic lifestyle. Others, like crocodile, think that romantic love is silly and unnecessary. They will feel infatuated because after all, they posess the animal instinct that it entails, but they will fail at developing romantic moments that go beyond sexual encounters.

Don’t try watching a romantic love movie with a crocodile. If by the end you are crying and feeling sad or happy for the main characters, crocodile will look at you and start laughing at your face.

“I am sorry for you. You are frozen for love” I said. “Maybe, but I’m a good fuck”.

Fair enough.