After the episode “LaFleur” of this past week’s LOST and a conversation I had with Jack Violet on GChat the last night had me thinking (again) about romance and the what works for me and what doesn’t.
(Spoilers for “LaFleur” to follow, don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know! If you don’t follow LOST and don’t much care, then by all means, carry on.)
The conclusion I’ve reached is: I don’t like drama/passionate/sexual-tension-disguised-as-bickering/what-have-you. It rarely, if ever, works for me. It is the main reason why PRIDE & PREJUDICE is one of my least favourite Austen romances and why I’ve always wanted Hermione to find end up with Harry. Because beneath the sniping and sexual tension, how often do you find something of substance to base the relationship on? Jack and I were relaying our youthful writing to each other, laughing at the ridiculousness of our pubescent romantic fantasies, when somehow the conversation drifted into our real-life crushes in our tender adolescence.
JACK: Oh god, your tween life is win.
JJ Andrew used to do things like steal my chapstick, use it, and then say things like, “In some way I just kissed you.” And then I’d steal the chapstick back and hit him on the shoulder or something.
JACK: OMG that is really cute. He should have asked you out.
JJ: Good god, what would we have done on a date? Hold hands awkwardly, maybe sneak a kiss, and then go home red-faced and be all awkward with each other at school the next day?
The building tension might have been delicious, but the ensuing payoff wouldn’t have been worth the effort. Aside from the teasing and stealing of my things and the constant badgering for Algebra help, my junior high school crush and I had absolutely nothing in common. Nothing. We couldn’t carry a conversation outside academic subjects (which would mostly consist of him telling me I was really smart and me being exasperated by it). Truthfully, I had absolutely no real interest in getting to know him better and no real interest in dating him. I was attracted to him but didn’t quite know it and by the time I figured it out, I was over it. (In my man-eating college years I would have simply fucked him and moved on. Crass? Yes, but I’m afraid it’s true.)
Sexual-tension-disguised-as-bickering can work in some instances. I like Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. I like Anne and Gilbert’s early interactions (but what cements this romance for me is the friendship that develops). But ultimately the “meet-cute” is hollow and unsatisfying unless a different sort of relationship develops very quickly which is why I think I find most recent romantic comedies insipid.
Which brings me to the Love Triangle (Polygon?) of Doom on LOST: the godforsaken Jack/Kate/Sawyer(/Juliet) kerfuffle. From the pilot episode I’ve always thought Jack and Kate should be together, not because of any inherent chemistry between the actors (because god knows they don’t really have any) but because it makes the most sense to me. Male lead + female lead – any overt characterization of the two as simply comrades = main romance. (I am conventional and old-fashioned in this way.) And then they bring in Sawyer–who I will admit is pretty hot when compared to the blandness that is Matthew Fox–to shake things up a bit. All right, I could handle that too; a little sizzling passion doesn’t go amiss on my TV screen. (Although I would argue the sparks flew between Jack and Sawyer, but I digress.) And then they beat the trope the death. At some point the love triangle went from “shaking things up” to “making me want to stab out my eyeballs” in season 3.
Fast forward two years later with the episode “LaFleur.” Jack and Kate have been living their lives in Los Angeles for 3 years. Sawyer and Juliet have built a relationship in the interim as well. In this instance I want to focus on Sawyer and Juliet, which was the newest revelation in the episode: I like this pairing. For once there’s no wishy-washy, indecisive, turn-on-the-angst-maker emotional manipulation; they were portrayed in a healthy, loving, comfortable relationship–which is exactly my cup of tea. John Mayer once sang “Our love was comfortable and so broken-in” and that, to me, is the epitome of romance.
Of course, I could be biased. Bear and I have been together for a good while and it is the tiny, innumerable sweetnesses of a long intimacy that make me love him all the more. The way my head fits in the crook of his right shoulder when we snuggle up to go to sleep. The feel of his broad back against my cheek when I’m cuddled up behind him. The shadows his eyelashes cast against his face. Folding his laundry. Rubbing my nose against his chest. The silence borne of contentment that wraps around us like a warm blanket when we’re relaxing. This, to me, is love.
Then again, the thing that sticks in my craw when it comes to Kate is that she can’t decide who or what she wants and therefore comes across as the cheating type. Infidelity is one of my buttons; it drives me crazy. It’s one thing to cheat because you’re unhappy, providing you have the balls to break your previous relationship off cleanly and take it like a man. It’s another thing entirely to waffle from one person to another, stringing both along because you can’t make up your own fool mind. Make a choice and stick with it, please. Or, if you’ve made a mistake, please own up to it.
Hence why I fear for Sawyer and Juliet in the episodes to come. I loved the portrayal of their relationship in one short episode because in its tiny intimacies, it reminds me of my own. I had hoped that Sawyer’s character had matured enough to move beyond the emotional suckage that is Kate, but alas, the last scene with the slow reveal and love theme will probably prove me otherwise. DAMMIT.