Monday, September 28, 2015

Sept Jours

Seven days is all she wrote, a kind of relationship eviction note. I looked on the paper for further instructions, but none were forthcoming. I carefully folded it, and placed it in my wallet just in case some brilliant inspiration or complete collapse of memory happened in the next seven days. I considered both to be very unlikely. Inspiration doesn't come at the wave of your outstretched hand like the garcon at the high dollar restaurant at which you can't afford to eat, nor does memory just erase itself like a blackboard after a particularly difficult lesson on Leibniz's calculus. Never understood the calculus, but I could do simple maths, and that simple calculation gave me the total of 168 hours. 168 hours to convince the woman I was in love with that I am the man she needs me to be, and her long search for a soul mate has come to an end.

Of course just in case the task itself wasn't difficult enough, she decided to leave town after writing the note. So much for my charming personality sweeping her off her feet in person. Climbing the tallest building in this burg, and pouring my heart out onto its rooftops sounds a lovely idea, but if she's not around to hear it, I would probably just be arrested for criminal trespass and disturbing the peace. I suppose the taller the mountain the more enjoyment one gets upon reaching the top, but I've never really been the outdoorsy type.  Therefore the task became how to convince her of all the benefits of being in a relationship with me, whilst she was over a thousand miles away from me. Flowers? Candy?  A Kate Spade purse? All of those things are both a) predictable, b) passe, c) need to be delivered, and in the case of the latter, bloody expensive, not that money was necessarily an object. I mean how much would you spend, if spending mattered, to convince the woman you love to make this decision? Also, addressing the card, always a tricky thing to do, would be difficult. Even if you got the "message" part dead on (unlikely), address unknown would make it very hard for the postman to perform his assigned duty. Rain, snow, and dark of night might not stop the mailman, but "she's about a thousand or so miles that way" might perturb him a bit.

 With the usual suspects in the art of wooing a woman being denied to me, and not being an expert in this field, I began to despair. How does one woo a woman that isn't around? How do you convince someone you're not a liar (which I am), a cheat (which I have been), and not going to get bored with her (which is impossible, she is too wildly, wonderfully unpredictable for boredom to ever be a problem)? To prove a negative is very, very hard, to prove three of them, why not ask me to change the colour of the moon? At least that, in theory could probably be done, though I would probably have to stage a hostile takeover of NASA, and then be sent to federal prison for a very, very long time, but at least the theory is sound, or as sound as any theory can be that involves taking over a major government agency for his personal benefit. These negatives, which I have, in the past, possessed in abundance, were going to be quite difficult to overcome. She had, rot her, some very valid concerns as to my veracity, loyalty, and ability to fight off ennui. All three had been, either singly, or in conjunction with each other, the death knell of various relationships of mine.

However, time is a wonderful thing, and as Da Vinci said experience is the queen of invention, and since I am fast approaching an age that I shudder to consider, and being a "man of the world" type, I figure that I do have a couple of things going for me. One hundred and sixty-eight hours might seem a long time, it really isn't. Take away the hours I will spend sleeping, and the hours I have to work, and the number of hours that I can devote to this thorny problem drops dramatically. The good news, if there is any good news, is that even while working I am allowed my own thoughts. They might be able to chain my body to a desk, but my thoughts can take flight whenever, and to where ever they choose.  That's the joy of an imagination, they (whomever they are) might have their knee in your balls, and their fist in your face, but they cannot stop the freedom of your thoughts.

I have been called (or rather accused) of being a large "R" romantic in the past, and she even referred to as a "persistent romantic asshole". Not exactly sure it was a compliment, but I chose to take it as a non-insult, beggars can't be choosers.  I determined that this romanticism was one of the few useful tools I possessed in the task before me, and while I might be an awkward sod in the wooing women sweepstakes, I know a lot of fellows who weren't. Granted most of them are as dead as dead can be, and none of their situations exactly matched mine, but again beggars can't be choosers. Armed with as much classical education as my student loans could buy, I began to search among the shadowy recesses of my memory for inspiration. It was in the theatre  of my imagination that I eventually found it. After all, being classically educated must have some benefit other than winning bar tabs at trivia contests right?

 My first stop along the inspiration highway was Peter Abelard and his great love Heloise, a well known love story from that cradle of romance, France. Parts of it are tragic, and parts of it are magic, but that is the nature of all enduring love stories. Regardless of all the tragic details the magic of their story is that a tradition still exists today were lovers or lovelorn singles leave notes on Peter and Heloise's shared grave in the tribute to the couple or the hope of finding true love. Of course that would require a trip to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, but that is not that difficult to do, and if it were to work it would be a trip worth taking.

Second is the Italian poet Petrarch and his love Laura. Another somewhat sad tale of unrequited love, but nevertheless a love that inspired some brilliant bloody poetry. Our lover boy was so smitten that he wrote one love poem a day for a year about his lady love. I have in the past written a blog post a day, and I can tell you it's a lot of work. They were simple, crude, and the opposite of poetry. To be so inspired by love to write lines such as this:

Oh blessed be the day, the month, the year,
the season and the time, the hour, the instant,
the gracious countryside, the place where I was
struck by those two lovely eyes that bound me;

and blessed be the first sweet agony
I felt when I found myself bound to Love,
the bow and all the arrows that have pierced me,
the wounds that reach the bottom of my heart.

And blessed be all of the poetry
I scattered, calling out my lady's name,
and all the sighs, and tears, and the desire;

blessed be all the paper upon which
I earn her fame, and every thought of mine,
only of her, and shared with no one else.

That, ladies and gentlemen is talent. It is talent, inspired by love and I couldn't come close to expressing that type of feeling to my lady friend even if I were to live to be a thousand years old. Again, as with Peter and Heloise, Petrarch's love story didn't end with the sun shining and the birds singing, but that does not diminish the talent or the love. I did say that the situations of all my inspirations were different than mine. I've no wish to be castrated like Abelard, nor to have my love be unrequited like Petrarch. I am merely using them, and their words/actions to attempt to woo a woman. A woman who inspires me just as much as Heloise did Abelard, and just as much Laura did Petrarch. They just have much more talent than I do with the written word.

Stage three on my trip through the land of the inspired is the Immortal Bard himself, William Shakespeare. He could provide me reams and reams of words with which to convince my lady of my love, but I chose to use the somewhat trite Romeo and Juliet, but not in the way most people would. I chose to quote Friar Laurence's speech to Romeo about his lady love prior to Juliet, the fair Rosaline. 

Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,

So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies

Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.

Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine

Hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!

How much salt water thrown away in waste

To season love that of it doth not taste!

The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,

Thy old groans ring yet in my ancient ears.

Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit

Of an old tear that is not washed off yet.

If e'er thou wast thyself and these woes thine,

Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline.

And art thou changed? Pronounce this sentence then:

Women may fall when there’s no strength in men.
Rightly calling Romeo to carpet for his previous mooning about over the fair Rosaline, and his subsequent shift to Juliet, our good priest questions how love could be so inconstant. Rightfully so, our Romeo is only a 16 year old boy. The love story that we all like to think of as a prime example of true love is merely an infatuation between two love struck teenagers. Certainly there are some wonderful lines in the play, and Mercuito's Queen Mab speech is one of the greatest speeches of all time, but let's not forget we are talking about the Middle Ages' version of Beverly Hills 90210.  

I have long since left my teenage years and my teenage angst behind. I am no longer the inconstant lover that is Romeo. There are no fair Rosaline's waiting off stage for me anymore, and that is the way I prefer it. The woman I have seven days to woo is my fair Juliet (though the bloom of teenage youth has also left her cheeks), and to answer Friar Laurence's query as to where the strength in men, it is right here. In these words that I am spilling out on to this (e) paper, explaining my desire to be the man she needs me to be. I have screwed my courage up to the sticking point (to again quote the Bard), and have decided to make the effort necessary.
Next we have another Englander, one Robert Herrick. M. Herrick was a life long bachelor, and his muse was named Julia. It appears that Julia is not one woman, but more of a symbol of love. Again not a perfect match with my situation, for I have the one woman in mind, and what she is a symbol for is not in doubt. But, Herrick could write lines like this about "Julia's" voice.

 So smooth, so sweet, so silv'ry is thy voice
As, could they hear, the damn'd would make no noise,
But listen to thee, walking in thy chamber,
Melting melodious words to lutes of amber. 
He wrote a string of poems addressed to his Julia, and each are quite breathtaking. Maybe for Herrick the ideal of Julia was what he needed an ideal woman to serve as his muse. Maybe there was a real life Julia, and my limited scholarship has yet to unearth her. It matters not, to be able to write those types of poems is again talent incarnate. I can only sit, admire, applaud, and steal his words to use upon my own Julia who is not an ideal, but who is all too real.

There are other points of inspiration too numerous to list, or this post would turn into an epic. Byron, Keats, Coleridge, Krudy, Roth, Zweig, and others have given me the framework for my large "R" romanticism. Each have the talent I wished I possessed in the art of stringing together words into phrases that take the breath away from the plodders of the written word such as myself. The last source of inspiration that I will quote is a fellow by the name of Tyler Farr, who wrote a song titled "A Guy Walks into a Bar".  I have walked into several bars in my life, and though it doesn't exactly happen this way, there was that one time.

A guy walks into a bar, orders a drink
Sees a girl that catches his eye
Asks her if she wants another
They fall for each other and end up lovers
They laugh, cry, hold on tight, make it work for a little while
Then one night her taillights fade out into the dark
And a guy walks into a bar
I'd laugh too if my heart would let me
Keeping it light will probably help to get me over you
I'm walking, talking, drinking proof
A cliché in a corner booth
Ain't nothing new

Again not the happiest of endings, but that minor detail need not detain us for very long. The feeling is still the same. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walked into mine. I haven't exactly been the same since. I have yet to see her taillights fade out into the dark in the terminal way that M. Farr's character does, and I hope I never do.  I have been that cliche in the corner of the bar, (I don't sit in booths), and I know how it feels, and I know that drinking isn't going to solve, replace, or prove anything. There is no true answer in the bottom of a bottle, I know, I've looked. Truth be told, if in these seven days I don't step foot in a bar, and it is unlikely I will, I won't miss it one bit. She is worth giving up the bar scene for, she is worth giving up much more than that. The trick is, and it is a hard trick is making her believe I'm willing to do it.

And so, all these words that I've stolen from all those talents fellows using their wits and thoughts to convince the love of their respective lives that she is, in fact, the love of their life, are just that words. Words that are pretty, words that are sad, words that make people happy, words that make people mad. Words are but one (albeit important) part of the equation. "They" say (whoever they are) that actions speak louder than words. I don't know if that's true or not. Perhaps actions coupled with words are the way to go. To promise to do something is easy, a mere bagatelle, we all make promises some of them we even plan to keep. To follow that promise with the action it implies is what separates the wheat from the chaff. Any damn fool can say he will be there, that he will be there for the woman they love, that they will be the man she needs him to be, but it takes a special type of fool to follow those words by actually doing it. And I'd rather love and be loved for the fool that I am, than to not take this chance. This once in a lifetime woman deserves no less. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


"Deeds to be hid which were not hid, Which all confused I could not know, Whether I suffered, or I did: For all seemed guilt, remorse or woe"

the end, so well known