A wise man once said:
‘What is love, baby don’t hurt me? Don’t hurt me. No more’.
Despite not making any sense, one simply cannot deny the genius behind the lyric.
Up until about five months ago, I would have told you love was just this thing people thought they experienced in lieu of what they were actually experiencing, namely indigestion from eating the eggs too fast. The questioning of love and the affirmation that it hurts is one of life’s greatest mysteries, hence why early 90s pop music attempts to evaluate it by way of disco analysis and backing vocals. But in truth, I no longer believe that love is an enigma. Instead, I’m here to tell you that it’s real, it exists and maybe it’s similar to the feeling you get just before you dip real fast down a rollercoaster while holding a burrito.
My epiphany arrived on the wings of a whisky-laden evening and I thought I dreamt the boy into existence. Maybe I did. The jury is still out on that one. Somebody pinch me.
The opening scene starts with me waiting in line for a popular underground bar.
ME: ‘There’s something about tonight. I feel like I am supposed to be here, waiting in line with these peasants!’
(Technically I didn’t *really* say that, but in hindsight I very well could have).
All of a sudden I saw someone I recognised popping out for a cigarette. The very sight of someone familiar validated my decision to wait in line to enter a bar, on my own, on a Friday night. I had recently met this French guy who worked with my friend, meaning the aforementioned friend was also there at the bar. So now we have ourselves a party.
As I greeted the Frenchman, I didn’t have a chance to look too closely at the unexpected yet excruciatingly handsome chap that followed after him but I saw him in my peripheral vision, and gasped slightly, for he was wearing a Bob Dylan t-shirt and my peripheral vision has good taste. We exchanged pleasantries and a few ‘oui oui monsieurs’. The bouncer, Freddie, also of a French-speaking background, spotted me and playfully chastised me for waiting in the line when I could have just sidled up and walked straight in (I’m there so often, they include me in the company’s expense report). As I am swiftly ushered in, I only briefly glanced behind me at the exquisite yet strange male presence that hovered in the alleyway with my French buddy. I quickly glimpsed them both, embraced by the dark shadows and the smoke from the cigarette. Yeah. There’s something about tonight, I thought to myself. And it’s smoking.
I walked down the stairs and even before entering, I could smell the familiar dark wood, the swirling whisky as it hit the hand cut ice, and the burning wax candles hanging ornately on the wall. I spotted my friends with relief and walked confidently to them. Overjoyed to see me, and a little surprised as they did not know I was coming, they quickly plied me with a potent Tomy’s margarita. I regaled them with stories about running in to French people and we laughed jollily, floating and hovering around the bar greeting our good friends, the bartenders. We may have been wearing top hats and monocles, I’m not sure, my memory is hazy about such details that don’t involve ‘The One’. End scene.
Act two, or something.
The mysterious dark figure in a Bob Dylan t-shirt from earlier has appeared from out in the alleyway and into the romantic confines of my favourite place. With my back to the brick wall, the candelabra above my head, and a pile of warm wax pile nudging my skin, I try to blend into the background somehow, like some kind of lizard doing the ‘brick camouflage’ trick. He walks past and quickly glances at me. My camouflage has failed. The candlelight has betrayed me. My stomach dives behind my liver because it wants no part in any of this and my whole body reacts by way of spasmodic twitching and I might have been sweating too much. So, basically, I was playing it cool.
Not a word was exchanged as he continues past. I look into my glass and the giant ice cube looks back at me rather menacingly, like the iceberg that murdered the Titanic. And when I look up again he’s standing right in front of me, inches from my face, holding his whisky. He looks at me, but not just at me, he looks at something behind me. In my flummoxed state I assume he must be looking at something more interesting, like a fat man in a clown suit, but in hindsight I realise there is a brick wall behind me and not a painted clown face in sight. He must, in actual fact, be looking into my eyes. But why would a person need to do that? They’re just eyes we use to see things! Wait a minute, is this the set of a Nicholas Sparks movie?!?!?! I did not sign a waiver authorising any clichéd filming or generic posters of heterosexual couples madly kissing and embracing in the rain or non-rain! But before I can say ‘unhand me yankee with your intense gaze!’, I realise that I want him to look at me like that.
At that moment he looked so deep into my eyes, I became suspicious about what he might find there. Abandoned toys. A second language. That time I stabbed my brother in the leg with a pencil in a fit of rage. And then he sees beyond even that because he already knows who I am and accepts the angry little 8-year-old girl within, yielding pencils like a crazy person. I don’t mean this in a figurative, meaningful, destiny-filled way. I mean he literally knows who I am because his friends explained who I was and he was intrigued. He introduces himself and we chat.
It’s not long before I realise that that I have met my match. The second thought that crosses my mind is “I think he’s the male version of me.” And the third thought? OH GOD OH GOD, HELP ME, I’M FALLING INTO A PIT OF LOVE. Game over everyone, you can all go home, thanks for your attendance; I must now plan our wedding in my head.
When he looks at me with his large, round, brown eyes, I feel as though he sees something that no one else has seen before this night. He sees me for the first time in a way that stays with me. He sees me as I am, as I want to be, as I should be, as I always have been. I never realised just how intensely you can look into a person’s eyes and know right away that everything is right with the world and maybe, just maybe, they won’t turn out to be a serial killer.
You are where you need to be. You can stop looking now. You’ve found an important piece of yourself in them and now you can lie down and rest because it’s been a long 24 years of searching, you need to freshen up and powder that nose, and while you’re at it could you maybe do 100 sit ups because you let yourself go for a bit there, okay tubby?
Most of all, what I want you to take from all of this love ranting is that you don’t go out searching for love (while eating cheeseburgers). Instead you let it come to you, like a puppy dog or a boomerang gone AWOL (and then you treat yourself to a celebratory cheeseburger).
And it will come to you when you’re ready for it, and possibly a bit drunk on tequila.
It always does.
And it won’t hurt you. No more. (x 2)
And to answer your question Haddaway, well truthfully, you already did, via the female vocal back up lady.
What is love? Love is:
‘Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh’.
PS. this is the bar.