It’s been a few weeks since the Not Boyfriend has made his home in my city. Slowly, we are unwinding the tensions and excitement and surreality of the whole situation to figure out how to make this thing I believe we both have doubted would ever happen into something easy, soothing and maybe even normal.
For nearly three years, I longed for Friday nights with him — no fine dining and whore heels, no big plans or expectations, just pizza, a few beers and cuddling on the couch, laughing along to “The Soup” or similar. Last night, we had that opportunity and he texted me in the middle of the craziest part of my day to plan it. I wigged out in a manner that is illustrated by photos of women with their hair on fire and demonic red eyes.
“CAN I GET A MOMENT TO BREATHE BEFORE I ORDER A FREAKING PIZZA?!” I screamed in my head while I smiled, packing my son’s backpack and overnight bag for his dad’s house and hanging fake Halloween cobwebs and answering work emails all at once.
It wasn’t the first time. Last week, during a sweet conversation about schedules and how to work in seeing each other amidst jobs (mine) and school (his) and kid (mine) and Tae Kwon Do (kid’s) and friends (everyone’s) and family (more of mine) and needing to space (all around), the Not Boyfriend suggested some ritual get-togethers. Maybe Wednesday night dinners in? Sunday afternoon bike rides? Friday nights to try new restaurants? The sentiment was lovely. My brain flipped.
“OHMAHGAW! THE PLANS! THE PRESSURE! THE STRUCTURE!” I bellowed in my head.
“OHMAHGAW! ARE WE ROB LOWE AND DEMI MOORE IN ‘ABOUT LAST NIGHT’ NOW?,” I scoffed out loud. “WHAT?! Are you going to yell at me for leaving a tampon wrapper on the bathroom floor next?”
The Not Boyfriend was stunned. Maybe even paralyzed. I didn’t check his vitals, didn’t stop long enough to let him try to communicate with me.
Instead, I launched into the scene in the bar in the movie when Elizabeth Perkins is asking Demi Moore how her relationship with Rob Lowe is going (yes, I know these are the actors and the characters have names in the film, but who in the hell can remember those?).
Demi launches into how great it is and offers the example of how they’ve worked out dinner, something like: “It’s perfect! We have spaghetti every Monday, he makes steaks on Tuesday, I prep a lasagna for Wednesday, Thursdays we grill and Fridays are Sandwich Night.”
(Note that I am approximating here as my well-worn VHS copy of this movie was lost in the Gulf of Divorce, sadly, for all parties involved.)
Elizabeth snaps back saracastically, “Wowwww. I bet your sex life is scintillating.”
I wasn’t just waxing ’80′s poetic in that reactionary moment, I was tapping into all the ideas I formulated a hundred years ago about love and relationships and men and sex. I was seeing the situation through the lens of grainy Brat Pack rom coms and shaker-knit striped legwarmers.
In the days since my relationship has gone from long-distance to local, I’ve taken note of lots of feelings and anxieties and “what ifs”. But these two freak-outs have turned on “About Last Night” in my mind and I can’t seem to stop the film. The weird thing is, I just always imagined I’d be the Demi Moore character and my commitment-phobia and ritual-resistance seems to make me far more Rob Lowe (or God forbid, Jim Belushi.)
I don’t have the answers. And I refuse for this real relationship and the amazing thing I have going on with the Not Boyfriend to play out like the final half-hour of “About Last Night.”
But what I do have is the opportunity to look back on where some of those ancient ideas about relationships were newly formed to the tune of a synth-heavy soundtrack , lace gloves and 17 aerosol bottles of White Rain. I also have the right to refuse Sandwich Night. And that, friends, is where I think Demi would want me to start.
Here are the five (mostly) ’80′s movies that totally messed with my ideas about romance, boyfriends and losing yourself in love (and the couch).‘
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What movies screwed up your definition of romance?
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