Sunday, December 03, 2006

Concept coined

Pretty Lady tries not to be too tediously frequent in pointing out the brilliance of her dear friend Cary; she feels that generally, her friends are literate and perspicacious enough to enjoy his words without additional commentary. However, there was one particular passage recently which she feels is destined for psychological canonization, and she cannot help repeating it.

For a man who has abused you to complain of the pain it causes him when you leave him only suggests that it is in his abuse of you itself that he finds pleasure and comfort. That is a chilling thought. But it is unavoidable: If the object of his abuse causes him pain when it disappears, then it must be in the abuse itself that he finds pleasure.
One of the consolation prizes of Pretty Lady's checkered romantic past has been that it has given her unlimited opportunity to contemplate the kaleidescopic nature of what Love is Not. On the face of it, lack of love ought to be an easily discernable characteristic to spot, commonplace as it is.

But surprisingly, this notion that Love is a Feeling, which Excuses All, seems to be a nearly universal misconception. Friends, Pretty Lady is sorry to burst your bubble. That Overwhelming Compulsion, that Passion, that drive which causes you to call Pretty Lady at 1 AM and blither like a drunken idiot, that mandate which impels you to stride into antique jewelry stores and look over the merchandise as though there were actually a possibility that you could afford a piece of it, that vague and indeterminate Thing which brings you to crouch in her bushes at midnight--that's not Love. That is Fantasy, Narcissism, and ad hoc abuse.

That force, if it had acted, which caused you to stop and think when you accosted that strange blonde lady in the plaza, might have been Love. It might have been so, had you considered something other than the exigency of your own fear, coupled with the yearnings of your gonads, and considered, "is it in the best interests of the woman I Love, to pursue thus blatantly every other random woman who happens to slightly resemble her, in a physical way? It makes ME feel marginally safer, in its flighty assurance that my own life as a whole is less likely to lack, entirely, the presence of blonde women, however inferior to Her. But is this behavior in service to Love? Really truly?

Pretty Lady has heard earnest protestations of Love from men who were in the process, simultaneously, of subjecting her to excrutiatingly painful bouts of unnecessary sleep deprivation. She has heard them from fellows who were self-righteously touting their right to engage in perverted sexual acts with other women at every opportunity. She has endured an "I love you" from a man who was finalizing the process of destroying her hard-earned livelihood, flushing her capital investment, and casting her nearly penniless into the night, without even rudimentary practical or emotional support. She has heard it from alleged 'friends,' for whom 'friendship' appeared to consist of passive-aggressive control, manipulation, parasitism, and subtle emotional sabotage.

Let it be known that when Pretty Lady says "I love you," she does not mean any of these things. What she means is, "I wish and will the best of all possible worlds to converge within your life, forever and ever amen. I consciously monitor my own behavior in order to promote this; or at the very least, to refrain from performing acts which will obviate this occurence in your life. More I cannot say or do--for you, my darling, are the captain of your own destiny. To interfere with your sovereignty over your own life would be an insult, a vote of n0-confidence and a blot upon your obvious perfection."

When she thinks about it, then, it seems to Pretty Lady that Love is less a feeling, than a force of apprehension. It may not Do; it may merely Be.

(Pretty Lady doesn't know what got into her this evening. Perhaps she has been working too hard. Thankfully, next month's rent is covered; so please to put up with a modicum of exhausted pomposity.)


Anonymous said...


Sounds like you have attracted losers into your life like a magnet attracts steel filings.

Have you ever met an ordinary, just nice guy? And if so, was he just too boring for you?

Chris Rywalt said...

Bobert, how long have you been reading Pretty Lady? Surely you must have figured it out by now: Pretty Lady is, at bottom, a Bottom. She just hasn't accepted the fact that what she needs is a good spanking.

By the way, PL, I agree with you wholeheartedly about love. You got it. I've long been mystified by the possessive side of love.

Anonymous said...

With apologies, that may be the worst definition of love that I have ever seen.

The definition of love in your post there is the warm dry handshake at the end of the date, the empty promise to call, the echoing footsteps in the stairwell as he walks away into the night. However, your beloved will know that you wish them the best of all possible worlds, and that will comfort him as he falls asleep, the book warm on his chest.

Where is the awkward lean in for the first kiss? Where is the anticipation of the next date? Where is the real joy at the laughter on the first weekend that you are comfortable enough to "stay in" and just relax? How about the light in your friends' eyes when they meet him see how happy you are and the whispered "He's really great" when he leaves the room?

What about the first really bad argument? What about the realization that despite the fight you both want to stay together? What about the plans for the future, the will to make those plans a reality, and the dedication to see it through? What about the long years together, seeing the familiar play of evening light across his face that time has eroded with such character?

What about commitment, and the desire to love something more than yourself?

I don't know, but I would take all of the above from a woman over her respecting "the sovereignty of my life", but that's just me.


Pretty Lady said...

Good heavens, boys, cranky cranky. Chris, I'll pay attention to you as SOON as the itinerant musicians from Wales have departed, I promise.

Crom, that definition of love has fallen, in my life, under the category of 'too much to hope for.' I wish this were not so; it seems as though I have been methodically smooching my way through every species of amphibian, reptile and other aquatic creature in the pond, and not one of them has transformed into the sort of prince you describe. The best one can do with snakes and tadpoles is to wish them well and cast them back.

BoysMom said...

I've always thought that Love is an action verb. Feelings are nice and all, but they just don't last.
Love is making dinner even when I don't feel like it, making sure there's a clean shirt pressed for a job interview, changing diapers, doing laundry, all that sort of thing. Things that the Beloved either cannot do for himself or does not have time to do or that he would not bother to do but are beneficial to him.
Love will look different to different people in different situations. To me, digging horse manure into my garden looks like Love.
And on that note, we're eating dinner at noon these days, so I need to get it cooking! (And I know my husband sees Love--well, smells it, anyway--when he walks in the front door and dinner's ready.)

Chris Rywalt said...

Well, Crom, I'm not so sure you can have one without the other. I mean to say, unless you respect the sovereignty of someone's life, you cannot get through the long years together and end up that place you describe. If you treat your wife like a possession -- unless you find that rare person who actually likes being treated like a possession -- she will not be looking at the familiar play of evening light across your face. She'll be wishing you would die already.

Also, I think you're conflating love and marriage, which are two different things.

When I think about love, I think about the song "You Belong to Me" by Redd Stewart and Chilton Price. It's one of the most beautiful melodies ever devised joined with the most horrifying lyrics:

See the marketplace in old Algiers
Send me photographs and souvenirs
Just remember when a dream appears You belong to me.

Okay, let me get this straight: When the person you love is away from you, and they see the thing that will make them happy, they're supposed to turn their back on it -- because you own them.

That's a love song?

If my wife left me for any reason, I'd be devastated. But if she truly felt she'd be happier without me -- with another man, a woman, alone, whatever -- how could I stop her? Why would I? I want her, above all things, to be as happy as she can be.

To me, when you love someone, you want all their dreams to come true. And to me, marriage is a partnership where two people get together to help each other's dreams come true to their best of their abilities. And if the furtherance of that end requires that the marriage end, so be it.

Anonymous said...


You are correct, specifically that the ideal situation would be that you truly want what is best for your beloved, even if that is not what is best for you.

However, I very determinedly did not mention marriage, and I am not conflating the two ideas. I do not believe that marriage and a successful relationship are identical, and I have many examples to draw from that reinforce this position. Theoretically, the two go together, but I am far too old and experienced to believe that they must.


Anonymous said...

The new James Bond was so sexy when he said "that's because you know what I can do with my little finger" [yum] but I didn't buy him falling in love with the accountant. They just hadn't built to that level.

Anonymous said...

PL -

I was going to make a comment regarding dilating your dating pool to include anthropoidal candidates as opposed to your strict menu of amphibians... But I realized that this was unfair.

What you intended as a kiss to release the prince from your frog ended up instead as a licking of the toad with the end result being merely a substandard hallucinatory experience. Still, your classification of "too much to hope for" does not jive with the rest of your philosophy, so I am led to conclude that if you truly believe it is beyond hope then you truly don't want it to come true.


Pretty Lady said...

Boysmom, I completely agree. The tragedy of my life is that I have cooked a great number of loving meals for engaging, dynamic fellows who responded as though I were trying to entrap them into dull domesticity.

Additionally, I have dated a great number of fellows who were drawn to my engaging, dynamic personality, and who simultaneously assumed that I would drop the engaging, dynamic stuff as soon as the two of us were an established item, and devote my entire life to ironing shirts, only bringing out the engaging, dynamic personality at parties, in order to impress their friends.

The notion that a woman could be, at the same time, fully domestic and nurturing, and fully creative, engaged and dynamic on an intellectual and spiritual level, appears to be a concept that the vast majority of males are unable to cope with. But then, Pretty Lady has been feeling cranky and cynical lately. She welcomes anyone who wishes to prove her wrong.

Pretty Lady said...

so I am led to conclude that if you truly believe it is beyond hope then you truly don't want it to come true.

See above. Prove me wrong.

Anonymous said...

I cannot take issue with the statement that the vast majority of males cannot or will not be able to cope with a dynamic female. However, you are not looking for a vast majority, rather just one who is tailored to your fit. I will agree that there is an appalling lack of men amongst the males of today's species, and they too - to mirror a statement I made here long ago - are also hunted to extinction levels, but in the negative sense of the concept unlike their rare female counterparts.


Anonymous said...

"I wish and will the best of all possible worlds to converge within your life"

When I say, "I love you" that's exactly what I mean. As someone pointed out loving someone and wanting the best for for them can be a tough business... especially if they leave you since you've got to let them go. Often times when someone tells another person, "I love you", what they really mean is "I want what's best for me", which is love, just not for another.

OK, my head hurts. My work is mostly done for today.

jay c said...

For years I've been trying to tell my stbxw that feelings of love are all well and good, but they don't do squat for their object. Being "in love" is essentially a selfish thing. Actually loving someone requires putting yourself out and causing yourself at least some small amount of pain on that someone's behalf.

She never did listen well. Hence the "stbx".

BoysMom said...

Well, Pretty Lady, all I can say is that I found such a man. (I got lucky, as I wasn't even looking.)
Perhaps he is this way because of his life experiences. (Civil war, relocation, raising and supporting his younger brother on his own at the age most American boys are looking for their first car, another relocation.)
Suffering, especially the non-self-inflicted sort, seems to create greater maturity in those who've experienced it.
Many of the musicians I've spent time with created most of their own problems, often seemingly just so they'd have drama to whine about. Children in adult bodies, if you will.
Since you naturally desire to aid people, perhaps such people are the sort you are encountering? That would explain why they are such lousy fits for you, at least.

Pretty Lady said...

Since you naturally desire to aid people, perhaps such people are the sort you are encountering?

Boysmom, you have nailed it. Nailed it, nailed it, nailed it. I was doing this for about a decade and a half before I even noticed what I was doing; I simply believed that the entire world needed nurturing, and that I was exercising my natural tendencies to the best of my ability.

However I do not entirely agree with you that 'suffering creates maturity.' It MAY do so, if the sufferer chooses to learn the lessons of maturity from it. Equally, it may teach passivity and manipulation, to those without the resolve to transcend it.

BoysMom said...

I suppose my view on the matter of suffering is skewed by the fact that nearly everyone I know who has truly suffered did so in some third world hellhole (mostly African) and has since found a way to make it to the US, which for all its problems is a paradise compared to their homelands. My perspective is certainly further skewed by the fact that I am a University Brat, and that Universities are where I have met these people.