My friend Jen’s parent’s story is truly a romantic tale. The first time they met he saw a vision of beauty; cascading brown hair, beautiful eyes, and the sweetest voice he ever heard. She saw, well . . . a giant troll. He was entranced. She was exasperated. He was delighted. She was disgusted. He was smitten. She was sick to her stomach. He had butterflies. She was about to lose her lunch.
He, however, was not to be denied. He called her. She ignored him. He sent her flowers. She ignored him. He wrote her poems. She read the poems. Her eyes welled up with tears. And then she ignored him.
For 6 months he pursued the object of his affection. For 6 months she ran . . . fast . . . I mean really fast . . . really, really fast. And then something happened which can only be explained by the mysteries of the cosmos. She fell madly in love with him. Last year, they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.
Today, we have a name for this romantic tale. We call it stalking. Try this same tactic today and you will not get a wife; you will get a restraining order.
In fairy-tales that little girls grow up with, the handsome prince shows up at the castle climbs up the trellis and whisks his true love away to live happily ever after. In the real world this is referred to as breaking and entering with a side-order of kidnapping.
What happened to the world? Is romance dead? Does romance no longer exist? Perhaps it is how we have evolved as humans. 10,000 years ago when you met someone you liked, you followed the respectable courting protocol. You clubbed her over the head and dragged her back to your cave.
Of course we no longer do this. Nowadays we have to buy her a drink first.
No actually, over the centuries, we really did try to modernize dating.
First, we had arranged marriages. We actually decided it would be smart if our parents chose our mate for us. This action not only ensured that we would procreate, but that we would be with someone who could annoy us for the next 50 years, about the same things our parents had annoyed us about for the first 18. This, I believe, is the sole reason that the average life expectancy during this time was only 32.
Arranged marriages – now whose idea was that? Not that arranged marriages are such a bad idea. With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, could our parents choose any more poorly than we choose for ourselves?
“Stop!” you say, “Don’t arranged marriages take away the unalienable right that we all have called Free Choice?
Yes, we have the right to choose. We have the right to fall in love and marry that person we fall in love with. We have a right to choose someone who all our friends hate, our parents hate, and who, if we weren’t completely morons, we would have noticed that we hate as well.
Later in history with the rise of specialization, the arranged marriage was replaced by the “Yenta.” (The town Matchmaker.) After all, if your parents couldn’t pick the perfect mate for you, surely the woman in town who knew everyone could find that special someone. This system worked well for hundreds of years until the town Yenta’s began to realize the financial benefits of repeat business, so they started hooking people up who would ultimately hate each other, creating the concept of divorce and ensuring and constant flow of new business for the Yenta.
The industrial age brought a variety of modern techniques for picking the perfect mate. These included the Singles’s Bar, The Dating Service, Online Dating and finally, “Speed Dating.”
Speed Dating is based on the concept that in an 8-minute conversation you can accurately predict that this is the person you may or may not want to spend the rest of your life with. This may work – I do not know. But I do believe that it will exasperate another problem. Does it seem fair that a girl meets you at 8-minute dating and then expects more than 4-minute sex?
Fast forward to Year 2124. A computer has now been devised which will find you the perfect mate. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions, provide a urine sample, give a pint of blood and spend 7 days in a brain scanning machine so the computer will understand every one of your most intimate desires and dreams. Then, instantly, the computer will give you give you the name of your soul mate. And of course, it will most likely be the name of your ex-wife.
Copyright 2004 – 2008, Glenn G. Millar