I love old movies but I'm afraid they have had an unintended effect on my love life, or lack thereof. In those movies the leading man always got the girl -- I thought that was just how it worked. Except for Romeo and Juliet (that did not end well) I thought the boy always got the girl. But if I wasn't going to get the girl, I thought it would be for some noble reason, like Bogart at the end of Casablanca -- if I'm not going to get laid, it better be because I'm off saving the world.
In all those black-and-white road-maps that guided my life there was always the enviable moment when two people's eyes locked and they knew that was it. That was "The Spark" and I have lived my life letting it guide me through the dark halls of my love life.
I'm not sure how many would be relationships I passed up because of my undying allegiance to this indefinable ghost that has defined my life. Except for the one time I should have paid attention, and I didn't. Two nights before my wedding, as I sat on the couch in the house that Arlene (then fiancé and future ex-wife) and I shared, I thought about how my life was about to turn out. With all the reservations that I had, whether or not this was the right woman for me, and with my spark apparently on permanent vacation, I shrugged it all off and thought, "How bad could it be?"
"Captain," the first-mate on the Titanic said as he peered out the glass, "is that an iceberg?"
"Nah, you're crazy," the Captain said as he stared at the floor. "Full speed ahead."
Yeah, like that.
I can't tell you how many times I had felt the spark, but then nothing ever happened. When I was about 17 I walked out of the pharmacy in the Foodtown Shopping Center and ran right smack into a girl who wore a powder baby blue t-shirt with Boston College across the front. She was shorter than me so I had to look down to see her face as she looked up into mine. She had long straight black hair, big brown eyes and olive skin. I felt the connection immediately, but she just smiled and kept moving.
Even to this day, every so often, her face returns uninvited, but not unwelcome, to my mind's eye.
I have romanticized the spark so much that no screenplay in the world could ever do it justice. I was once set up to meet a woman through a mutual friend. The woman was very nice but, you guessed it, no spark. She was persistent, though, and in a short time we started to date. She was very nice, a world traveler, knew a variety of famous people both in politics and entertainment, and yet I could not get passed the fact that there was no spark between us.
"Spark?" she laughed. "There is no such thing as a spark."
That year, as a gift, she actually found a cologne called Spark. When I opened the box, it was empty.
She was smart enough to end the relationship soon after that.
I can only hope that this romantic affliction is not something that I would hand down to my children, but luckily they seem to be immune. My daughter, Amanda, is dating a very nice guy named Paul who, although our political views are vastly different, I allow him to be wrong since they seem to have a good relationship.
My youngest, Danny, who has now been dating the same girl, Maddie, for over three years, seems to be the anti-me. He met someone he liked, and that was it. They are very good for each other. Selfishly I hope they stay together just because I want to learn more about her family. This is a family that includes a medal-winning Olympic athlete, a sportscaster, the head of a major network's sports programming department, a couple of inventors, a judge and they all seem to live to be around 120 years old. All Danny has going for him is that I was once mistaken for Dom DeLuise in Iceland.
As for my other son, Alexander, I have no idea what his dating life is like. He never talks (about anything). He's in college now, but for all I know he's married with two kids with a third on the way. I hope they are happy.
To be honest, the seed of The Spark was planted in a dream I had when I was young and movies just continued to feed that obsession. I was about 13 years old when I dreamt I was standing at one end of a long indoor swimming pool and a girl was standing across from me at the other. Without prompting we both dove into the pool knowing full well that we were destined to meet in the middle of the water. Suddenly, I had this feeling that this wasn't right, the timing was wrong, so like awkward actors we swam passed each other and ended up on the opposite ends of the pool, alone. Then I woke up.
In my head I know this is ridiculous, but in my heart I feel there is still some destiny left for my life, that there is a reason for me to follow this Spark. That the girl of my dreams (literally) is still out there and that eventually we are meant to meet in the middle of that damn pool.
I just hope I don't drown first.