An Ode to Spontanaeity and Terrible Judgment

I am an incurable romantic. That I am also an incurable pragmatist poses some significant challenge.

But don’t let me digress.

I cashed in a gift certificate today. Ah, holiday bounty! You sexy, sexy thang. The yield? An on-sale collector’s edition of The English Patient. I love romance but wish it was done better most times. In this movie, though, my god. Be still my beating heart.

I’ve been wanting this on DVD for years. I remember seeing it by sheer fluke on opening day back in 1996. It was Vancouver’s Park Theatre, where it would play for weeks and weeks. I went in thinking it’d been good, but came out thinking I’d seen one of the best depictions of love ever filmed. What a splendid use of a torrential rain Thursday afternoon after a day of pasting up the college newspaper. I couldn’t have designed a better day.

But, again, digression. It’s romance I wish to address. I emerged from that feature head-over-heels in cinematic love. Now, a decade later, it reminds me of some of my own “here, now, forever” sinful moments, against which all other encounters will forever fail to rank. (Don’t worry, my pragmatist disagrees and thinks a few others are in the making. The mind is a powerful thing. I think I can, I think I can…)

A couple relationships back, it was a torrid, furtive thing. A smattering of days, a series of bodily collisions. Dirty things done often in confined spaces. I needed many showers. I haven’t really written about that encounter yet. It was too short to amount to much, but, boy, could it have amounted. I’m loathe to write about it. I crave a second chance. Doubt it’ll happen. Doubt it should, too. Hoo-boy.

Despite that, every now and again I sit back in my 30-something body and I give some serious thought to “what am I gonna know then that I don’t know now, and how the fuck can I get around that?”

Seriously. I’m 33, and I know I’m smart six days to Sunday, but I gotta wonder. How much smarter do I get? What’s the coolest tidbit I pick up, and how the hell long am I done gone gonna be waitin’ for that to transpire, huh?

The sex with this guy was something to never, ever write home about. Nuh-uh. Some things just don’t have to be known by those near and dear, you know? Thanks to a healthy combination of pillows, Vellux-brand blankies (there’s a reason they’re in motels everywhere), and a cushy wool rug underneath, much use was made of the living room floor. For more than a couple days of seclusion. Locked indoors, overpaying for delivery, you know how it is. Who needs vacations anyhow? All I need is my dirty mind, a playmate, a clear schedule, and a variety of surfaces.

Sigh, but it was a classic too much/too soon scenario. Oh, a tragic demise! Fuck, makes me want to sing that trashy old teeny-bopper Tiffany’s song. “Coulda been so beautiful. Coulda been so right.” What’s next, Debbie Gibson?

But, yeah… I’ve made me a lot of mistakes in my time. Something about trusting my heart and going with the flow tends to get me in whole lotta-lot of troubles. Do you hear me griping? Fuck, no. Reminiscing something fierce, you bet.

See, I have this feeling I get it about kids and why they’re so upset when we send them to bed early. I think they’re all too aware of just how much life they’re missing by going to bed early. I kind of feel that way about having lived much of my life so cautiously. Now and again, I get the chance to stop saying “what if” and instead lunge for a “why not”. So, I do.

Why the fuck not?

No, no, none of this “carpe diem” crap. Put your prep school English-teaching idols back in the archives, where they belong. I’m talking about why the hell not?

I’m not the first to make this argument, and I’m damned if I’ll be the last. Bears repeating, it does. If you play it safe and you’re little cautious person, sure, you’ll live a nice safe life. Long one, too. Taking too many risks, why, that’s just fucking with the oddmakers and you know your books are gonna bust. But, you do your homework right, read the signals right, and hey. Maybe you cash in for a change. It’s about calculated risks. Sometimes, right? That’s why they call it playing it safe. You’re trying to be safe, but at least you’re playing. Good deal.

(Which reminds me. I owe you part deux de Dating Tips and my little intro rant about why you should ignore everything I’m saying instead. I had forgotten. Yes. Busted. Doh. Etc. Fuck off. Now I remember. Will make good. :P )

But, yeah, I’m a sucker for romance. Throw some fluke occurrences (or well-crafted ones together) and I’ll be sworn that it’s “meant to be”. Maybe not “meant to be forever” but at the very least, “meant to be experienced”. And why not? Indeed.

I wrote once of when I kissed a boy, or rather, he kissed me, sitting on a little footbridge, in Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park. Just then, the lights in the park shut off simultaneously, and poof! Awash in the light of a full moon. That kiss melted into forever, our tensing and embraced bodies falling back on the 1×2 slat wall, a stream trickling beneath us, the dampness of a dew-fallen spring night enveloping us.

To this damn day, I walk there and get the shivers. The kiss of a lifetime. Or, as it turns out… one of many. But when you have moments like that, it’s so hard to turn away from the “this seems so right” mentality that can overtake us. Sometimes I never want to turn away from thinking thoughts like that. I like having my “let’s pretend the world is ending in 23 minutes and this is the LAST GUY I’m ever gonna get to make shiver!” There’s a good inspiration. (And yields good results. Wonder if they ever realize that’s one of my “Go Steff!” motivational tools? Huh. Betcha “no” there.)

And the English Patient is the perfect example of seizing those moments of random possibility and making the best of it. I’m not a fan of adultery, never have been. (Busted a guy once. Had it happen to me at least once that I know of.) But, I tell you, if I ever have one of those “here, now, forever” potential loves-of-life just suddenly appear out of nowhere, well, I don’t know if I’d have the wherewithal. Passion does downright crazy things to some of us. Not sure I ever want to stop it taking over me. What a sham of a life that’d be.

So. What was my point? Did I mention I bought a bottle of red wine, too? It’s a killer good surprise I’ve found for the ridiculously low price of $13.99. It’s French. La Something-or-other. Sometime, when gravity isn’t such a foe of mine, I’ll tell you what it was. Tasty little beast of a red. Mreow.

My point: The English Patient. Makes me swoon and swoon and swoon. ‘Cos it reminds me of all those little moments in the past when the world outside of me and that guy of the moment just melted the hell away. It was a sense emporium. Far too good to be believed. Too lofty to maintain for longer than those furtive moments, hours, days.

And even if it couldn’t have been, at least it was, even ever so briefly.

I propose a toast to all my imperfections and my ever so wondrously good lack of judgment. Without it, life could never be so sweet. And, in keeping of the night that’s upon us and the start of the new year, may you find a way to embrace all your judgmental lacks and imperfections, too. And god bless us every one. Ahem.

(And no. I did not get my job. That’s another story for another time. And look, I’m happy and having fun despite it. ‘cos that’s how this life thing’s done, boys and girls. Or it’s something to strive for at the very leastestest.)