Fuck "The Notebook"

an essay about Hollywood love

We’ve all had moments made of Crazy Stupid Love or passion or infatuation or lust or obsession or what we’ve cleverly deemed as crushes. Those hazy days filled with butterflies and desire, when it’s easy to mistake the deafening pound of our own eager heartbeat with their assigned ringtone. Those days we can’t stop staring at our phone or jumping with excitement every time it rings, but it’s never them. Those Indian Summer nights, because it’s always an Indian Summer in matters of the heart, when walking away just seems impossible; when not kissing them might actually kill you; when catching your breath is only attainable when in direct contact with theirs. Being in crush is like being opening-night-front-row-center for the premiere of The Notebook, 24/7. There’s nothing else that matters but needing to fuel the romantic fire that’s burning deep inside your secret. Until sometimes, if we’re lucky, we work up enough courage to tell our crush that they’re the one. With popcorn fingers and fault line knees, we brave the truth and hope their words don’t murder us in return.

And then, if we’re really lucky… the moment we’ve been waiting for; we’ve been fantasizing about; we’ve been dressing up for; we’ve been praying into possibility; we’ve been magic minute wishing into existence; we’ve been journaling into becoming for longer than we’ll ever admit to: the first kiss! That damn first kiss! Breathe. Kiss. Breathe. Is this really happening? Kiss. Breathe. Yes. Breathe. This is happening. Kiss. Breathe. Focus on this moment. Kiss. Here. Breathe. And. Kiss. Now. Breathe.

But wait… where’s the music? What happened to my fireworks? To that perfect summer rainstorm and my six-pack stomach? To the flash mob crowd that came out of nowhere just to cheer us on? To the girl with flawless hair who runs into my arms right after I call her Baby?

That damn first kiss, the way it haunts our memories until the accuracy of what actually happened is impossible to ascertain. That moment of perfect pain and beautiful surrender when we let go and let them catch our breathing; we whisper moonbeams into their eardrums and call this practical; we unveil The Wizard and call him Dad. For however long that first kiss lasts, everything seems possible and nothing else exists.

I know all of this because I kiss with my soul. I kiss from the lining of my gut and use my dramatic pulse to set the tone. I kiss like it truly could be my last and I want to make sure I can feel it in my bones. I kiss like I love. I love like the movies taught me to. Like Carrying Watermelons and Frankly Not Giving a Damn and Jake Ryan and Rose Dawson and being Had at Hello and Wanting to be a better Man across all of Madison County’s Bridges and Leonardo DiCaprio’s face! Yes, I love like Hollywood told me to, like a directed heartbeat in heat and I don’t know any other way.

Thank God.

But what happens when the movie ends and the rolling credits look just like everything else? When that first kiss has turned into 1,001? When the Indian Summer nights have turned into cold winds and familial Christmas mornings? When you take off the makeup and the charm? When the fighting becomes just as passionate as the fucking? When both parties are wearing their most authentic selves instead of just the best parts? The movies don’t tell us what to do in the after. They don’t even allude to the reinsertion of sanity that comes when the Honeymoon ends.

So, allow me… everything that I know about the after I’ve learned in my last year of living and from watching High Fidelity more than 300 times. That movie really should be my life, but it’s too bad we don’t have record stores anymore.

The DOs and DON’Ts to Keeping It Real:

  1. Fuck The Notebook! No true love should ever be that dramatic. Don’t count on the rain to be on time to your plans. If you want to kiss someone, kiss them. I highly recommend the first time be in a shoe store or the milk aisle in Safeway, this way you won’t have perfection to live up to or constantly be compared to later.
  2. Stop comparing the early behaviors to what’s exhibited when the relationship part kicks in. Nobody is exactly how they seem at the beginning of anything; be it a romance or a new job or a new friendship or a new car. Newness should be appreciated in full when it’s happening, but maintain a healthy mindset of knowing it will pass eventually, just like everything else.
  3. Be a dick and apologize.
  4. Be a bitch and don’t.
  5. Buy them presents on a random Tuesday, but never forget their birthday.
  6. Talk about the hard shit constantly. Be open to being open. If you don’t like the way your thighs look with the lights on, tell them. There’s not one person in this entire world that lives without insecurities, it’s the brave person that can make them known and rise above.
  7. Floss.
  8. Fuck with full passion even when you don’t feel like it, because chances are, about 30 seconds in, you’ll probably feel like it.
  9. Trust your partner! That whole innocent-until-proven-guilty thing should be applied to any matters of the heart. Trust, wholeheartedly, until proven otherwise. Let them in, there’s no other way to achieve real love.
  10. Be honest to a fault.
  11. Jealousy is a sure fire way to kill the mood.
  12. Be jealous when they need more attention from you.
  13. Take your vitamins.
  14. Kiss them perfect in public while slow dancing to the music in your head. Romance only dies when we kill it.
  15. Love them for everything and tell them that you do, every single day.
  16. Be yourself. Don’t let the words out of your mouth ever be what you think they want to hear. If you’re authentic in your meaning, expect authentic reciprocation.
  17. Be cheesy.
  18. Don’t confuse desire for being needy.
  19. Stop being so damn needy.
  20. Need them just enough to know that this is love not codependency.
  21. Let them compliment you and believe it.
  22. Kiss them before you brush your teeth in the morning.
  23. Remember to floss.
  24. Close the door when you poop and eat more fiber.
  25. Laugh as loud as you can together. Do this at least twice a week.
  26. Hold them until you forget which arms are yours.
  27. Remember the Alamo.
  28. Let them see your ugly cry and fresh whiteheads, nobody is without either.
  29. Free yourself from forever. Let the right now be As Good As It Gets and be in love with it.
  30. Love them, truly, as much as they love you. There shouldn’t be a more or first. All love is valid in its purity, as it should also be in its expression. Love is not a contest, it’s a wonderful privilege that isn’t always that wonderful. Be in love with the bad times as much as the orgasms and stop self-inducing both.


Finally, it’s okay to want the movie, but try writing your own script together.

Aim for better.