Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Practical Love Songs 3

Stephen Stills’s “Love the One You’re With” has many flaws. A forgettable melody and some ill-placed “do do dos” are just two of the things it doesn’t have going for it. However, “Love the One You’re With” packs a critical message you ignore at your peril.

If you're down and confused
And you can't remember who you're talkin' to
Concentration slips away
'Cuz your baby is so far away


And if you can't be with the one you love
Honey love the one you're with


No one ends up with the companion they want. Instead, they eventually crunch the numbers, evaluate the mate they’ve hoodwinked, and figure: ”Well this one doesn’t seem to be dumping me, and I’m not getting any younger, so why the hell not?”

And though part of their brain may recognize they are settling, most folks never seem to fully reconcile this, which is what keeps marriage counselors in Courvoisier.

This inability to accept that they have settled is why so many idealize their high school sweetheart as some magical “one that got away.” For those still attending the Church of the High School Sweetheart, listen up: You were in high school, a time when what little free will we have is sublimated by tectonic hormonal shifts. Back then, you didn’t even grasp that the prom was just another dance. You didn’t even like dancing. You hated dressing up. You couldn’t wait for the bell to ring so you could get the hell out of school. Yet you allowed yourself to be convinced that that DANCE, which involved DRESSING UP, and was held AT SCHOOL, was a life and death crisis. And in the midst of all that confusion, you think you somehow had clarity about LOVE, the most esoteric facet of human existence?

SURE YOU DID.

Don't be angry, don't be sad
Don't sit cryin' of about the good times you had
There's a girl right next to you
And she's just waiting for something to do


Something to do. That’s marriage in a nutshell. Marriage is primarily a way of avoiding spinsterdom. Being lonely is awful. Being lonely and old drives many seniors to literal insanity. When couples glorify growing old together, it isn’t because growing old together is romantic. It is because it is a relief to know you won’t grow old alone: “Whew, at least I’ll have a sidekick as I creep toward oblivion!”

Probably the biggest reason to settle down is to be saved from the embarrassment of dating in your forties. The 40-something bar scene gives new meaning to the term “last call,” and 40-something office romances either end with a lawsuit or with someone getting chased by a jilted, shotgun-wielding spouse. That leaves Internet dating, which involves the use of a technology that didn’t even exist when you were learning the ropes of courtship. Nothing says old and desperate like two grizzled singles pronouncing LOL as “lull.”

Settle down has the word settle in it for a reason. 99% of you aren’t going to be with the one you love, so devote your energy to loving the one you’re with. Life sucks. May as well have some company.

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