Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Fairy Tale Bedroom Dead Zone

Hollywood has done us all a great disservice. I know, that's not really a revelation. We all know that we are a generation of messed-up expectations. We feel all relationships need to involve dramatic plot twists and epics denouements. We are programmed to expect beds sprinkled with rose petals, last minute dashes to airports, pronouncements of undying love after one date and that all breakups (except for the best friend's character) end up with the characters growing, changing and somehow belonging together even more. We've been raised on a diet of old school fairy-tale romance set against a background of insanely affordable New York lofts.

This whole change of expectations, and inevitable slump when we realize that our lives will never involve exposed brick walls, 1400 square feet and the entirety of Tiffany's being rented out for our viewing pleasure is not what I'm talking about. True, we have been programmed this way. But the men in most of our lives are, at the very least, aware that this is going on. I challenge you to find one guy that hasn't been dragged to a chick flick and, upon leaving, had a women demand to know why he's not as romantic as Heathcliff/Mr. Darcy/random male lead. If this hasn't happened recently, it did when he was in high school. So yes, we have unrealistic expectations. But somewhere in the dim recesses of the male brain, in an area normally reserved for the proper order of cutlery when setting a table and what color of socks to wear with black pants, men know this.

What I'm referring to is something else entirely. I don't know if anyone has ever identified it before so, like an explorer in colonial days, I am claiming it and choosing my own name. I shall call it The Fairy Tale Bedroom Dead Zone.

I think that the damage that Hollywood movies have done to us is not that we expect too much. It's a cultural norm now and I think most people are pretty aware of it. In lucid moments I think we are even able to tell ourselves "Hold on, I'm being crazy. This is life, not an episode of Friends." I think our problem is is that our frame of reference begins with coffee shop flirting and ends, abruptly, at the bedroom door.

With the exception of Sex and the City there aren't a lot of rom-coms out there that deal with, well, sex. Sure there's a lot of scenes that involve pre-sex romantic build-up, dimmly lit foreplay and post coital cuddling, but there's not ever really that much guidance in terms of sex and sex based relationships. It's as if we are all following a map that has a big blank in the middle of it labelled "Here Be Dragons." What's a modern day Cinderella to do when faced with the dilemma of when to break off a friends-with-benefits situation when a new romantic relationship bears its head? Is it morally reprehensible to be having casual sex with more than one person, or just difficult to schedule and perilous in terms of staying bladder infection free? Even the previously mentioned SATC (I know, I shortened it, shoot me) offers little guidance. Carrie is always vassilating wildly from one long term relationship to the next, Miranda has a stick up her ass, Charlotte is a prude and really, if Samantha doesn't have an STI by now it's a Christmas miracle. None of them are really role models I want to base myself on.

And really, when you look at it objectively enough, I shouldn't feel the need for a role model of the Hollywood variety. In fact I usually pride myself on NOT using Hollywood as a guide to my life. It's just that, having had this background noise for all other steps in the relationship world, this sudden void seems awkward. Meet guy, fall in love, procreate- covered. Meet guy, meet another guy, have good time until such time as right guy becomes evident or new guy enters scene-? How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days didn't cover this.

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