While waiting to be seated for drag queen Mother's Day Brunch (literally), I overheard two girls talking (complaining) about their love lives. I can't tell you how much I enjoy listening in on conversations, especially when the topic is men. I've heard things like, "Why can't he just say I love you already," "It's really weird -- whenever he invites me over, he insists I take my shoes off at the door, but only remove one sock," and "Is it normal that I think 50 Shades of Grey would help our relationship".
In this particular instance, the overhearing touched on one of my favorite dating conundrums affecting the modern woman: "It was really fun, but I dumped him after two months," the girl in gladiator sandals said, "there was just no magic."
Bippity, boppity, boo!
Ladies, we need to talk. Our expectations for men (and vice versa) are so out of whack, we go straight to fantasyland as a stand-in for our disappointment. Are you expecting to board the platform 9 and 3/4 train to Boyfriendland, where everyone looks like Liam Hemsworth or Javier Bardem and they're just waiting for your arrival holding three bags of Louboutins and a puppy?
It's time to get real. As in, base our expectations for love in non-unicorn reality.
And I'm not confusing this with having standards or wanting to be respected or having a connection with someone in a crowded bar while the song "Somebody That I Used to Know" plays and you've lost all knowledge of time and you know that this person will affect your life deeply. Probably, or at least for a few months.
It's time to beam back down to planet earth, into the world of reality. Where have our expectations gone? They've gone to a place where Edward the Vampire is beloved (and totally deemed a real person) and it's cool and desirable to have a long-lost lover named Gale (is that a guy's name?) who hunts with you in the woods in a dystopic land where you have to kill other children.
There are lots of things to blame for the incorporation of the fictional and fantastical into the realm of dating, but the most amusing is our vernacular.
I hear this all the time, metaphors about "sparks" and "flames" in reference to dates. Are you dating a magician? Are you dating Criss Angel? If so, tell him to lay off the eyeliner.
I hate to break this to Wiccans and other horitculturalists everywhere, but MAGIC ISN'T REAL. Yes, you can describe something as magical, but not in reference to another person. Prince Charming is a character. A fictional character. Sure, you can see facets of your own "prince charming" when he picks up your dry cleaning for you or tells you that you look beautiful or is sweet and supportive about your fledgling writing career.There might be passionate kisses, or similar thoughts, but unless you're Tan Mom, fireworks are never going to go off.
It's not just the lexicon of ridiculous, but of course, popular culture that has led us to believe that love is a thing of fairy tales.
Unless I didn't get the memo, none of this exists. None of it has ever been proven to exist. We've developed worlds of wonder and excitement like Harry Potter and The Little Mermaid and Two Broke Girls, but Ariel isn't selling fork-combs on Etsy. TV shows continue the mythical nature of a magical relationship and/or man, but the real culprit is actually Disney, as we all know, for telling girls that three mice will totally help you flat iron your hair. Not true. Or that your prince, (white), with the same helmet hair, will come to your rescue and you're going to feel whatever magic is. Something like Magic, the Gathering, but instead of trading dragons, you could trade personality traits -- like kindess (lots of points), or beach house (lots and lots of extra points).
Even our romantic comedies still have an element of magic: Just My Luck (what happened to you, red-headed Lindsay?), that dumb one with Kristen Bell where she throws coins into a fountain and weird guys fall in love with her. I think that's called walking around the LES in new denim-cut-offs (blame it on the Olsen twins). How did they manage to consistently find PAIRS of hot men, in every city in Europe? Is there a Stars tour where men come in pairs? Is there going to be a flood? Should I line up with my other giraffe half?
What if we based our expectations of men, not upon princes and spells and the undead, but instead upon real people? Why are there no examples of that for us to see? (Except for Jason Segel. Hi Jason, I think we have some friends in common.)
I'm not just blaming the ladies here. I had a guy break up with me once, because he -- AND I QUOTE -- expected to "just know" if I was "the one, sort of like being struck by lightning." According to my research, the statistical probability of getting struck by lightning is 1 in 700,000. Did he just imagine that one day he'd wake up with feelings for me that would create enough electrical energy to run a small automobile?
Maybe we just can't identify our feelings, and instead create absurd expectations that can only be fulfilled in books and in the movies. We don't use the supernatural in our friendships or work lives (ugh, I just wish this copier grew wings and sent me on a magic carpet ride), or "Jenna is totally being a Belle right now." What would actually getting that "magic" even look like?
And if it does exist, does this mean I could grow extra limbs for Gchatting?
Follow Meredith Fineman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheFFJD