“O innocent victims of Cupid,
Remember this terse little verse:
To let a fool kiss you is stupid,
To let a kiss fool you is worse.”
– E.Y. Harburg
Let’s be honest. Cupid is a terrorist.
I’m expect a bit of push-back but Cupid is a cunning little bastard. Hollywood has him on retainer and the little shit gets royalties from every heart-shaped pendent sold.
He, or she, wanders the countryside and shoots arrows into the unsuspecting’s emotional soft areas – often above the knees and below the waistline. As a result people abandon hopes, dreams, ambitions, obligations and the occasional 1979 Jeep Wrangler in an attempt to demonstrate their “love” for another person.
Their willingness to sacrifice anything and everything out of “loooove”.
I really miss that Jeep.
Cupid the Terrorist’s arrow encouraged Paris to steal away Helen to Troy. The result? The Greeks and Menelaus’ armies turned the Aegean Sea red with Trojan blood. The eagle-eyed little cherub of stupidity is definitely culpable in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. It was practically a contract killing.
Manipulative little diaper-wearing archer of eternal doom.
Cupid the Terrorist’s long bow struck again this week when, in a bit of irony I was asked twice, by two different people in two different conversations, if I believe in “love”.
The short answer? No, I don’t believe in “love”. Love is just a word and it doesn’t mean a damn thing.
Which was, clearly, not the answer they expected.
Now before the people that I care about, and that care about me, get all defensive or angry or cry, let me be more specific. It may or may not make any difference in your response but at least hear me out.
I do not believe in the “love” they intended with their question. Essentially, they are asking me if I believe in “love” the noun. You may as well ask me if I believe in “Santa”.
Which is also a noun and, like love, purely mythical.
The best description of love I have found is from the aphorist, Mason Cooley, “Love is friendship plus sex and minus reason.” Clearly, the power in Cupid’s arrow is to remove the ability to reason.
Hence, so many seventeen year olds are prone to confusing lust with love.
People blinded by the shine of Cupid’s arrows of doom lack the ability to reason and as such, act in unreasonable ways. As a result, they end up fishing from the company dock or end up looking for love in all the wrong places. Cupid is a gleeful destroyer of marriages, jobs and families.
It is never reasonable to sleep with your boss…or your boss’s spouse or your brother’s wife or your son’s best friend or your student teacher or your secretary. And if you are walking around telling yourself this person “loves” you or you “love” that person but still have to sneak off to an afternoon delight when your spouse is at work, it is not “love”. It is because Cupid’s bard is wedged deeply between your brain and your libido; his arrow acting as a lobotomy on your brain and Viagra on your libido.
I am not saying those choices are wrong. This is not a discussion of morality. I am saying they lack reason.
Yet we still call this “love”. The cynic in me would define that as a pleasurable camaraderie at best and lust at worse.
As a sidebar, I find it ironic that a historical synonym for arrow is “quarrel”.
…and as such, every romance, beginning with Cupid’s anti-reason projectile often finds its intended targets ending their reason-less “love” via the sharp bards of a quarrel.
The world would be a much less confusing place if we stopped abusing the term of “love”: I love Greater’s Black Raspberry Ice Cream, I love Ohio State football, I love walking under a full moon, I love reading Thoreau and I love sex with you…but do I love you?
See how silly that is?
Again, Cupid’s fault for removing our ability to reason. The word “love” and the word “like” are as interchangeable as a Lego in our modern culture and they shouldn’t be.
As I said, love is just a word and it doesn’t mean a damn thing. It is a phrase people use to fill in awkward silence. All too often it is used as a phrase of manipulation, control or abuse.
It is the plot device that gets you to pay for the movie.
Love is why Cupid the Terrorist’s arrow has to suspend reason. Without it, when someone says, “I love you,” all reason would rebel at the silliness of the phrase. Instead, because Cupid’s quarrel has suspended reason, we accept behavior that is not honest, healthy or safe. All because we love them – and they love us.
At least they say they love us.
The word “love” is no more significant than saying “chocolate”. Standing alone they mean little except they are both nouns and they are open to individual interpretations based on every hearer’s life experience.
What gives a noun power is the verb and the adjective. It is the things around the noun that truly defines its meaning. It modifies the intent of the noun: true, free, lasting, fucking, modern, crazy, lost, forbidden, unrequited and first love; unsweetened, bakers, dark, semi-sweet, milk and white chocolate. Although, like fucking love is devoid of actual love, white chocolate is actually devoid of chocolate.
The great part is that I can “love chocolate”.
However, if I say, “I love you” and I say, “I love chocolate,” and if I eat the last piece of chocolate and don’t leave it for you, does that mean my love for chocolate is greater than my love for you? Tragically, as all too many people in my life have discovered, the answer is yes, I love chocolate more than you.
Which is why I snook off with the chocolate chip cookie and ate it in the garage when you weren’t looking…then I blamed the dog.
Which I also love…maybe more than you…but still less than chocolate.
But I digress. Where was I?
So, now that I have clearly stated my position on chocolate – sorry, I mean love (it is a meaningless, socially manufactured, overused noun) let me tell you what I do believe: the meaningful question is not, “Do I believe in love,” but rather, “What does it mean to act lovingly?”
In a world of temptation do I walk the line? Do I support your ambitions and dreams? Am I vulnerable? Open to you? Interested in you? Do I treat you like you are important? If you believe the answer is, “Yes,” is it necessary for me to say, “I love you”?
The flip side of course, is do they seem to take pleasure in shaming or humiliating you? Do they take joy in ripping you open and using my insecurities and secrets to flog you? Do they do this and then at the end of the day say, “I love you.”
If the answer to any of those questions is, “Yes,” what does that say about your, and their, understanding about the meaning of “love”?
I once spent three months training for my first half-marathon. I ran every weekend. I ran several days a week. It was clearly important to me. On race day, I went alone. As I crossed the finish line, on the biggest run of my life, in the middle of a pack of six thousand other people I witnessed the friends and family of other runners acting lovingly. Finishing your first half marathon is a big deal for most new runners. The spouses, families and friends greeted their runners with hugs, signs, pictures and food. These people acted “lovingly” to their “loved” ones because what was important to the people they cared about was important to them.
I had to borrow a phone to call someone to pick me up and take me twelve miles back to my car. It was at that point I realize just how lonely I was even though I had people in my life that “loved” me. The truth was there was little that was “loving” in my life. It doesn’t mean they are not good people. Maybe I wasn’t clear about what I needed or wanted. I’m sure I share some culpability in that situation.
But knowing this now certainly didn’t change the despair and loneliness of the moment.
It has taken me a long time to realize the importance of acting “lovingly” to the people in my life – to ignore the sting of Cupid’s missiles of unreasoning despair. It has taken me almost as long to be willing to recognize “loving” behavior versus “loving” words. The only armor against the random arrows tossed about by Cupid the Terrorist is to surround ourselves with people that are more interested in acting lovingly than in finding love.