Love. What hasn’t been said about this most beguiling of four-letter words? It’s all people ever really want out of life, and yet it is damn near impossible to describe it when you have it. I get asked all the time if I have ever been in love. Naturally, I say “yes,” because if you say “no,” you come off as cold, distant and shallow. I’m not implying that you should lie about being in love, more that the feeling of being in love is totally vague and without concrete definition. That makes it dreadfully easy to assume that you must have been in love, because no one is around to tell you firmly that you haven’t. It’s completely subjective.
In my estimation, I have only been in love once. Her name was Natalie… and is still Natalie actually. I vividly recall when I decided I was legitimately smitten with her. We were talking on the phone, both slightly intoxicated from one or two too many glasses of cheap wine. Natalie felt it appropriate to read a poem Ted Hughes wrote about his late wife, Sylvia Plath. The tortured, lyrical nature of the words led me to openly weep over the phone, and at that point, it was clear in my mind that I had met someone special. A few moments later, I told her how I felt. Six months after this incident, we were separated, but that is still my standard for true romance.
“Drunken long distance poetry slam” is not exactly an appropriate backdrop for a tender moment of self-expression such as this. On top of being kind of drunk and talking on the phone at 2 a.m., I was also sans pants and scratching parts of my body that are better left unmentioned at this moment. And I may or may not have showered that day.
I was doing the whole thing wrong. I totally botched the operation, which probably led to the relationship’s eventual demise. A classy, well-executed first “I love you” can put you firmly on the path toward sexual stability. Fortune has smiled upon me and given me a new relationship with a real great gal that will eventually allow me to exorcise the demons of the “drunken poetry slam.” When I feel the time is right to say, “I love you,” I’d like it to be in one of the following five situations.
1. In front of a large body of water.
There’s nothing more romantic than running water. Water is the ultimate giver of life. Relationships often lead to childbirth or adoption, which is the extension of life. We need water to live. We need love to live happily. If you can’t find a lake, river, waterfall or pond, just run a bath or something.
2. In a foreign country.
Pretend you’re F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway or any number of other literary expatriates. Look no further than Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris for evidence of the power of this fantasy. You and your loved one embrace in front of an exotic cityscape and never return to the drudgery of life in your ho-hum country of origin. The image is even more potent if it occurs under the specter of war. Casablanca is highly relevant in this case, but so is Starship Troopers.
3. At an art gallery.
Art works for saying “I love you” because most art is an expression of deep, raw emotion. What’s a better location for a revelation of the romantic sort than a place where the vast majority of objects surrounding you are explicit expressions of feeling? In a way, you are crying out for attention by declaring your love for someone else. You are saying “good grief, look at me and only me until I tell you to stop.” Paintings do the same thing.
4. Your local Wing Stop franchise.
A person will never be more vulnerable or willing to accept affection than when their face is covered in a frothy mixture of buffalo sauce and ranch dressing. Your betrothed will just be so thrilled that anyone could love such a messy eater that they won’t waste a second considering whether or not to reciprocate. Just be sure to ask them to wipe up before you kiss.
5. Any theater playing the Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn/Jonah Hill/Richard Ayoade comedy, The Watch.
Where else are you going to get that much privacy?