You’ll never know who she is, but you’ll read her anyway. Send questions, propositions, and fan mail to email@example.com. Welcome to the Belle Jar.
I dedicate this Valentines Day to Lisa Nowak. Some people can go the distance for love.
Walking across campus last night, I counted eight guys and girls carrying flowers to their objects of love, regard, and obsession. Beneath scarves and ski masks, their eyes spoke volumes: “I’ve got someone, I’m going to see them, O’Keefe this motherfuckah.” The clock struck twelve, and it was Valentines Day. It was sweet.
Well, at least until I remembered that these people were probably in relationships. Close friends and anonymous hookups rarely buy each other flowers. Flowers are a big symbol. They’re innocence; they’re passion; they’re female genitals. That kind of baggage is awkward in a friendship. But LOVE, love knows no bounds, and that’s basically the problem. If relationships and the people in them could restrain themselves, today and every other day would be a lot easier. Consider the following a guide to being the two-wheeler that makes other people want to be your third.
Public displays of affection are endearing on a distant, detached, entirely impersonal level. You laugh when dogs sniff each others’ behinds, and maybe, on a nice spring day, you smile at a kissing couple. (Unless they’re both hideous.) But there are those who overstep these bounds, plunging you and your vision into a state of great turmoil. Perhaps, like Oedipus, you too reach for the dress pins. I like to go up to these people and gently ask them to part–leave room for Jesus.
Bubble Boys and Girls
These people are completely unaware of the relationships they’ve stumbled into. In one scenario, they don’t know that things are going well. Top has found bottom, swimmer has found stroke partner, and econ major has found invisible hand. But these people haven’t a clue. “He hates me, she thinks I’m lame, he’s going to leave me at any minute,” they spew, leaving flecks of sentimental bile on your face. Ask their partner a few simple questions and you’ll find that their relationship is healthy and happy, with the exception of one person’s self-inflicted neurotic disorder.
On the flip side, there are the poor lemmings who don’t realize that they are in trouble. They don’t yet see the problem with a relationship in which an ass slap is +5 on the affection scale. Step one usually entails intervention from friends and family, but if this doesn’t work (and it probably won’t), only time can take its car and back out over their ignorance/optimism.
The Invisible Partner:
Often (but not always!) the less influential, moneyed, or attractive half of a power couple, this person is like the crust of an asexually reproductive slime-mold. He or she (more often she) makes you sad at parties because you get the sense that if they let go of their boyfriend or girlfriend’s arm, they wouldn’t be able to find their way home. Being around this couple feels like being on the set of Ghost when Patrick Swayze is trying to get through to Demi Moore but he’s dead and she can’t hear him (not like the pottery wheel scene, sadly). Stay within your league—invisibility can be avoided by dating laterally.
If you plan to study abroad, and you plan to stay in your relationship, do everyone around you the favor of coming to some agreement on what your relationship is before your partner leaves. Even those who do this become Piners for semesters at a time. They’re technically in a relationship, but feel single, but won’t go out with their single friends because it feels like betrayal. Around week suxof their boyfriend or girlfriend’s absence, they’ll start scanning facebook photos, looking for attractive foreign students their partner could be secretly screwing. By the time the semester has ended, you’ll wish they had left the country together.
They were once single people. And then something grabbed these people by the cocks and clits and fused them a single organism, the kind that finishes each others’ sentences and each others’ food—saddening to those who knew them as discrete individuals with separate goals, interests, and neuroses.
There is no back-and-forth in their conversations, as there is only one organism conversing. Stand in front of a wall and throw a rubber ball at it. The ball will come back and hit you in the face. That’s what their conversations are like.
They share seats and dreams and oxygen—this last part is especially dangerous, as the diminished supply renders them retarded, leading them to share underwear. The only good thing they do is cut down on the number of party invitations you have to send out—no need for one per person, one per organism is best.
Seriously though, if this is you, you risk alienating your friends and losing yourself—power dynamics are inescapable, so either you’re subsuming or submitting to your partner. It’s hard to get this point across to the organism, as it’s often very stubborn. It has good intentions, it has high hopes, it’s in LOVE, but it’s a fucking pain in the ass.
The Happy Open Relationship;
Elusive. Transient. More or less impossible, existing somewhere between Brigadoon and El Dorado. The problem is inherent in the phrase itself. You can be Open and sleep with someone you have a passing interest in, but you can’t do this repeatedly and call it a relationship. (A relationship is best thought of as a box. A Closed box.) Repetition does not make something stable; it just means you’re unhinged.
Next week: Belle is done with lists! She moves on to…cunnilingus: art or science?