Hollywood has given me unrealistic expectations of love. I feel comfort in saying there are a select group of people that are the reason I’m single. I don’t know these people personally, but I do know some writers out there sit at home crafting impossible love stories that make women across the world (namely, me) want to kill themselves and the producers that bring these books to life on the silver screen are out to ruin my life and make me want to cry every time I wake up alone. How can I ever function in a normal and healthy relationship when I don’t get a full-blown, hysterical love confession every time it rains? How can I possibly sleep through the night when the handsome outcast in my small town isn’t throwing rocks at my window, beckoning me to come down for an innocent and barf-inducing midnight stroll down the center town square? How can I ever enjoy a classic vacation in a sleepy east coast beach town if Channing Tatum isn’t there to jump in the water to save my purse after some guy throws it in the water, thus, naturally, ushering in a beautiful and tumultuous love affair?
Nicholas Sparks is almost entirely to blame. While there are, undoubtedly, other participants cranking out these stories, I can confidently say it is at least 98% his fault. I remember watching A Walk to Remember and developing my first taste for unrealistic love. Landon Carter was a true outlaw; threatened by expulsion after a prank-gone-wrong, who is forced to participate in drama club to get him back on track (what kind of punishment is that? When I flipped off my French teacher in 10th grade, I got threatened with suspension and talked my way down to a Saturday school). After nerdy Jamie Sullivan helps him learn his lines, she sees him for what he truly is: not a high school hating scoundrel but a sensitive and caring soul, misunderstood by his peers and the community. Yawn. You ever try talking to the burnouts from your high school? Good luck carrying on a legitimate conversation with those dudes. Their attention span is equivalent to that of a gnat and if it’s not about weed or Taco Bell, they don’t care. The seeds of unbelievable and far-fetched circumstances that lead to whirlwind love affairs were implanted then and there, but since I was only 11 when that movie came out, pretty much any/everything in my head was far-fetched and unbelievable. But if you ask me, that movie is the basis and stem of why I am such a helpless, hopeless romantic. Damn you, Sparks. Damn you.
When The Notebook came out a short 2 years later, we, as a country, collectively gave up on finding love. Not only were we introduced to the sex pot that is Ryan Gosling (because we all know everything he did prior to his role as Noah Calhoun is irrelevant and unexciting), we were given a glimpse into what Rachel McAdams could accomplish outside of being a Plastic (turns out she’s a pretty decent actress, but I think we can all agree none of us will ever think of her as anything but Regina George). Once again, Sparks took conventional and normal relationships and crushed them to smithereens. How was I supposed to look at anyone I could possibly, at 14 years old, start a relationship with without thinking of a grizzly Ryan Gosling standing in the rain telling me he wrote love letters to me I never got? How could I possibly ever think about growing old without getting Alzheimer’s and expecting the love of my life to retell the story of our tumultuous-but-ultimately-beautiful-and-incredulous love story every time I have an episode?
It didn’t end there. Nights in Rodanthe let me know I didn’t have to be in my 20s to find perfect love (I sat in the theater and sobbed my eyes out until the lights came back on after the credits rolled), Dear John showed me not all military guys are total assholes (but living in San Diego has ultimately undone that one), and Moulin Rouge taught me that Ewan McGregor is a hot piece and I, too, can find a handsome bohemian playwright to fall in love with me, even if I am a stripper/prostitute dying from consumption.
I’ve inundated myself with so many rom-coms and romantic dramas that I’ve figured out they all have a pattern. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. And what good is that? Boy and girl meet, boy and girl try not to fall in love but despite their surroundings, they are pushed together. When they finally succumb to their overwhelming obsession with one another, something, somewhere gets in the way to push them apart. But don’t you worry your pretty little sobbing-in-the-middle-of-the-movie-theater head, because love always conquers all. And that right there is the plot of at least 12 movies that have been released this year.
Earlier this week, I was surprised to find out the new Channing Tatum/Rachel McAdams (anyone else seeing a pattern emerge?) melodramatic romantic epic was not written by Nicholas Sparks. But it might as well be. It is in fact a true story written by the two people who actually lived the drama that will unfold in front of millions of peoples’ eyes this weekend. What could be more tragic than a memory-erasing car accident and a persistent husband hell-bent on making you re-fall back in love with him? Nothing. That’s what. And that is precisely the reason it will be number one at the box office this weekend. Every girl in the country will drag their boyfriends to the movies, then, after the credits roll, they’ll grill their men on why they can’t be as romantic and in touch with their emotions as Tatum’s character. Thus, here we are right back where we started from. Unrealistic expectations of love. All stemming from unbelievable and outlandish storytelling.
How I’m ever supposed to bounce back from this is unclear to me, but I do know one thing. I will not be seeing The Vow for 3 reasons: 1) I will definitely, absolutely, 100% want to kill myself after seeing it (forever alone), 2) I can’t handle looking at Channing Tatum because he ruins all men for me. Ever. And 3) My presumptions about love have already been skewed so heavily from nights crying in front of my television and drowning my sorrows in a pint of Chubby Hubby that if I do anymore damage, I will literally explode from being such a cliché.