Passion and Wishful Thinking

By Janey Womeldorf

I think that passion – the smoldering, love-scene-type – is a fantasy created by movie companies to keep us in a state of wishful thinking. I know because I have never watched a movie up on the big screen where the heart throb suddenly cries, “Ooh, stop, stop, I’ve got cramp.”

The fantasy is Richard Gere sweeping his leading lady off of her feet and carrying her off into the sunset. In the real world, he’d discover that she had recently packed on a few, and his knees would buckle under the weight, sending them both crashing to the floor. Too much reality. The thought of Richard Gere suffering from human quirks like dodgy joints is too painful for us romantics to bear. He never needs the toilet either; nor Brad Pitt for that matter. No, they’re above that.

But passion does exist in the real world – it just looks different. If my husband ever tried to sweep me off my feet, I’d scream in panic, his back would give out, and down we’d go. It’s a good job we married in our twenties because there was no way he was carrying me over the threshold in our forties.

It is not that my husband and I can’t “smolder,” we just get passionate about other things – like the first cup of coffee in the morning. Now that’s something to get excited about; besides, you always remember your first. Our morning habits may not be the stuff of movies but there is a real world intimacy in our daily indulgence. I fill the pot at night and set out his favorite mug. He gets up early to flick the switch and then comes back to bed. We cuddle as the aroma of deep-roasted coffee beans creeps through the house, nudging us awake. You cannot wait to let the hot liquid flow through your veins. It makes you hot under the pajama collar just thinking about it. We wouldn’t start our day any other way.

And then there’s food passion. He does not remember what I wore on our first date, but he goes weak at the knees thinking about the cut of Filet Mignon steak he ate at a hole in the wall restaurant in North Carolina. It melted in his mouth. He can still taste every succulent, juicy morsel. Likewise, I’ve forgotten what we spoke about on our wedding night, but I can still remember every smooth and luxurious sip of the Italian red wine we drank on our honeymoon: it tasted like silk on my tongue.

But, still we aspire to create the illusion of breathtaking passion and movie-scene perfection, it’s just that one thing gets in the way: life; and two things are definite show stoppers: the cell phone and the answer machine.

Even the great love classics do not stand a chance against the cell phone.

The scene is immortal. Waves crash over the intertwined lovers rolling passionately on the sand, their hearts and souls joined as one. He strokes her face, glances deep into her eyes, and whispers, “Do you mind if I get that?”

In the final moments of Sleepless in Seattle, Meg and Tom discover true love on top of the Empire State Building. The scene is magical, the music dramatic, and your heart yearns for the happy ending. Their fingers touch, their eyes lock, and words escape them. Suddenly she hears it, “Duh, Duh, da, da, Duh, Duh, da, da.” The hairs on the back of her neck stand up and she stiffens. Can she really spend the rest of her life with a man who has downloaded the theme to Mission Impossible on his cell phone? She flees to the elevator and punches the down button quicker than Tom Hanks can say, “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?”

In the modern day remake of Love Story, Ryan O’Neil’s successor utters, “Love means never having to say would you mind turning off your cell phone sweetie.” Someone pass me a tissue.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, once the phone rings, it’s all over; the unanswered call lingers like a bad smell. You struggle desperately to rekindle the smoldering passion of moments before, but it plagues you – curiosity. It lurks under the surface bombarding you with the nagging question, “I wonder who that was?”

Then, as if the startling ring of a telephone isn’t damaging enough, the answer machine kicks in. You try to ignore it. You fight not to let the sound of your mother’s detailed account of her doctor’s visit distract you, but it was her annual check up, and she had a lot done. I told my husband I replayed her message later, but the truth was I heard every word. I doubt even Scarlett O’Hara could have stayed focused during that message.

Yet still we persevere, hoping to one day capture the fantasy. Finally, you realize that when it comes to breathtaking passion, it is just easier to rent the movie. We have shared tears after The Notebook, reaffirmed that we too were destined for each other after watching Serendipity, and kitchen danced like newly-weds after Shall We Dance. Then, armed with warm and fuzzy thoughts, rekindled affection, and passion in our hearts, we turn off the DVD and push each other out of the sofa. Our creaky joints have stiffened and at 10:30 pm, it’s way past our bedtime.

He goes on up. In the time it takes me to fill the carafe, take out his favorite mug, and prepare the coffee, he is sound asleep. I snuggle in beside him, careful not to wake him; after all, he has an early start in the morning. He has to act out the most important scene of our real life love story. He has to flick the coffee switch.

It takes my breath away just thinking about it.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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