Being brave in love


The classic line from the film “Love Story” is “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” The screenwriter obviously never left the toilet seat up.

I kid, I kid.

Ultimately, what the line really means is that if you truly love someone, you will always forgive them because you know their heart is in the right place.

This is probably only true for true loves, soulmates, or at least someone you’ve been with long enough that you’ve seen them at their highest highs and their lowest lows. The sentiment is not aimed at those stuck in what many would call “puppy love,” which has to be the sorriest state of love there is.

When I think of “puppy love” I think of those crushes I had late in elementary school and early in middle school. It was love that made my face hot and my already rapid pulse race with delight. When Valentine’s Day came around each year, all of the students placed mailboxes made of construction paper on their desk as a receptacle for the postcard sized declarations of love. These usually had cartoon characters on them, smelled like candy and had witty phrases like “I pity the fool that doesn’t love you.”
They were very classy.

One would think that as the adolescent lothario that I imagined myself to be – why dream of being a firefighter when I could be a Corey Haim like boy that girls swooned over ? – I would select one special target for my affections and try valiantly to sweep her off her jelly-shoed feet (Obviously I went to school in the 1980s). This was not my plan at all though. I figured I had a better chance of finding a girlfriend if I sent out “the vibes” to nearly all of the ladies. After all, there was something appealing about nearly all of the girls in my class.

(Because of Facebook and the fact that some of my old classmates may stumble upon this, the names have been changed to spare me further embarrassment.)
Esther was the prettiest with her straight, blonde hair and porcelain looking skin, while Hazel was tall, smart and also a fan of The Babysitter Club books (stifle it!). Eunice was funny and great at floor hockey and Yolanda was a good dancer. I don’t know why I cared that Yolanda could dance since I have always had two left feet and did the overbite shuffle from the age of six years old on. I definitely preferred blondes and thought many of the girls in my class were pretty cute. What I didn’t understand was that while I wanted to be Corey Haim (or Feldman, who was by far the better actor) the girls did not want to be Alyssa Milano or the girl who could stop time with her fingers on that show “Out of this World.”

If you haven’t already guessed it, there was no reciprocation. For those years from 5th grade through middle school, Valentine’s Day was mostly a bust and any “relationships” I had were short-lived and lame.

While I may shake my head today at what a little fool I was, I wouldn’t necessarily change it or trade those experiences a bit. I loved it all. The ecstasy of coming up with what I thought would be the right phrase or the daydream of being so cool, something that seemed (and I guess actually was) unattainable at the time. I even enjoyed the agony when it was all over. I may have been looked upon as a dork by some, but I had put myself out there and I knew that I would do it again and again. After all, what else was television and movies teaching us except to be yourself and some day the right person would come along.

Is there a lesson here? You would think that I am suggesting you cast a wide net for all of those fish in the sea and maybe I am. What I think the true lesson is though is to be brave – try and try again. I didn’t give up. Not then when I was swinging and missing more than Andruw Jones (ha – remember how bad he was in that final year with the Braves?) and not when those high school relationships went belly up because they were high school relationships. I didn’t give up when things looked their worst in college and I put myself out there again when I ran into one of those girls I dated in middle school in 2000.

I was really sweating when I held that tiny box with the ring inside later that year, but my heart knew I was doing the right thing and it helped me get those words out.
Even if you’re married like I am, be brave with your love this Valentine’s Day – whether you shout it from the rooftops or you say it with pancakes or a Mr. T Valentine card. Declare your love boldly and speak those feelings. You make shake your head later, but you’ll never regret it.