I like romantic comedy movies. There. I said it. I know, I know; I have, in the past, in this very column, denounced romantic comedies as an evil most sinister. I still think that, but I still really love them at the same time. Don’t get me wrong: I like to think that my taste in romantic comedies is Very Discerning, to Excellent. Me, I like a nice indie romantic comedy. Something with Paul Rudd, perhaps, or Jason Segel. Something with edgy comedy and a little angst. Something that doesn’t make me feel like it’s a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie.
See? I have to go spoil it, by referencing my hatred of those MR/TH movies. (Hey, I just realized that I have the same initials as Meg Ryan!) I have to do it, because I’m embarrassed about my fondness for romantic comedies, and the basis for this dislike is deeply rooted inside me. I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell; more accurately, Joni Mitchell provided the bulk of my emotional education. If any one musician was more eager to disabuse their listeners of childish notions about romance, well, I don’t know who they might be. Her lyrics and beautiful, floating melodies lulled you into a false sense of security – just when you think she’s going to sing about flowers and love, she lays the heavy on you. Anyway, I learned quickly and early that fairy tale love doesn’t happen.
But it’s not just because it doesn’t happen that I am embarrassed about my love of romantic comedies. I like to make believe with the best of ‘em. No, it’s because of how misleading they are, and how they make everyone want it, even though it doesn’t exist. It’s like this huge, awful lie that everyone knows is a lie, but pretends that they don’t. It’s very perplexing to a person and can make it seem like they’re bad at relationships or something. A person could feel broken, a feeling reinforced by the idea that there’s one person out there who could be your destiny, your fate, your soul mate.
I am also embarrassed because romantic comedies often make me cry. Something happens to me during those final dramatic moments (really, any dramatic moments) with the swelling music and characters’ hearts and my eyes with shining tears, that makes me produce a strange pre-weep sound. I may be the only one who can hear it, because it’s very soft and high-pitched. It sounds a bit like a puppy whining faintly, and from far away. I didn’t even realize that I physically could make that kind of noise. It is part of an orgy of romantic feeling and tears and emotion and restraint which overcomes me completely.
This is why I say that I hate them. Because they make me feel vulnerable and hopeful and wistful, as well as give me a runny nose. They make me feel like all of life’s treasures can and probably will be just outside the door, waiting for me with flowers and open arms. Bah! Humbug.