I wanted to call this “The Pompatus of Love,” but John Cusack’s not in that movie…and it doesn’t have any Peter Gabriel songs, so…

In 1986, in a moment of cinemagraphic greatness, Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) stood outside the window of Diane Court (Ione Skye), surrounded by darkness, a boom box held high above his head, entirely oblivious to the catastrophic ramifications of clutching an electrical object in the middle of a thunderstorm.

The only thing more moving than the raw emotion generated by the visual imagery of the scene, itself, was the music coming from the stereo in Dobler’s out-stretched, rain-drenched hands.

“In your eyes…the light, the heat…I am complete…I see the doorway, of a thousand churches…the resolution, of all my fruitless searches…”

I don’t believe in love the way most people do.

And despite what are sure to be my mother’s many protestations to the contrary, this is a direct result of the southern, black pragmatism, she, herself, instilled in me from birth.

I believe that what we come to know as love is absolutely the one hundred percent construct of our mind’s willingness to do so at the time. That is to say, we fall in love when we are of the mind to fall in love.

It hardly matters.

If I indicated two doors, one appropriately labeled “reality,” and the other, “resolution of all my fruitless searches,” I’d wager all that I own, the threshold of the former wouldn’t be so much as breached.

Love is the only instance in which we shamelessly grant ourselves permission to vest all of our hopes into another person. And we do so with the express proviso that we will, indeed, find in that other, all that is lacking within our own selves.

The weight that removes from our stress-addled minds; the notion that another will be there to shoulder, if only the tiniest of our burdens, is so great to create a euphoria that transcends all else—common sense, reason, hard, concrete facts.

In defense against this, I’ve allowed my rational mind to carefully de-construct love, as there is no fail-safe in a Lloyd Doblerian approach. Romantic comedies peppered with attractively quirky white people are hardly an accurate portrayal of what lovers of love are up against.

Know what is?

The “Maury” show.

Maury fucking Povich is what we should look to when considering the weight of love—its ebbs and flows; its successes and failures.

I dvr “Maury” every, single day. Every day, hordes of women bring their mates to the show to debunk their allegations of infidelity.

What’s crazy, is that the women don’t come simply with intuitions. They come with “sex-soiled” bed linens, condom wrappers, other women’s panties, other women’s earrings.

And they all say the same thing: “Maury (pronounced “Mahw-ree”), if he fails this lie detector test, today, it’s OVER! I’m done with him! He can get out!!”

And every day, the men fail the lie detector tests. And every day, like clockwork, the women drop their evidence-filled ziplock bags, falling to the floor, or running off the stage in a fit of wailing frenzy, cry-screaming the same thing, “I can’t believe it ‘Mahw-ree’! I can’t believe he’d do this to me!!”

Those moments precisely before and directly after the lie detector test—that’s where the love is. Those brief minutes showcasing the triumph of foreign drawes-and-rubbers-in-a-plastic-bag optimism and the crushing blow of if-it-walks-like-a-duck-it’s-because-he-fucked-a-duck realism—that’s when you begin to understand this power love holds over us.

I challenge you to find a greater optimist than a woman who finds another’s earring in her bed, and takes her man on the “Maury” show.

You won’t.

The whole ride there, the whole interview process, the entirety of the wait before the revelation, all she is doing is hoping against hope that there IS some zany explanation for why she’s clutching a gold-plated Chanel doorknocker.

And irrespective of all she’s seen, and all she’s heard, there’s no way to prepare her for the crippling agony of defeat; she hasn’t just been let down by this man. She’s been let down by love.

I (cautiously) submit to you, that every relationship is like a “Maury” lie-detector vignette.

We all optimistically enter into these relationships with willful disregard of our own ziplock bags, each of which are filled to the brim with the same hard pieces of evidentiary fact:

1. That monogamy is hard. And it fucking sucks. Like it sucks so bad, sometimes. I know no one wants to talk about it, but for real. It truly sucks. Oh, you don’t think it sucks? Be super duper mad at that motherfucker and have an overly-sympathetic, sexy as hell co-worker invite you out to drinks. Monogamy is hard. And arguably, unnatural. So…right.

2. That living together or spending an inordinate amount of time with each other is akin to an active state of captivity. And while animals in captivity *do* spend a great deal of time fucking (and believe me, I respect that. I respect that more than I can ever say, animals in captivity), they spend a healthy amount of time fighting as well…sometimes to the death.

3. That putting all your hopes into another human being will, in all likelihood, screw you in some capacity. Not because of any deliberate malice on the part of the other person; not even because of some insensitive negligence. But, simply because we are all human, and fallible. As such, our lot is to forever be a disappointment to those who perhaps thought more of us, or who, with no encouragement at all, canonized us.

4. That you will probably break up. There are seven billion people in the world. If any of us have been in long term relationships, it’s fair to say that at some point, we thought that other person, the one who preceded your current person, was the one. And he/she wasn’t. This is going to happen over and over again until we say “enough,” “amen,” or “I do.” And then some more.

So there we stand, our plastic bags full of these things that we know good and damned well should restrain us. And what do we do? Close our eyes, wade in, clutching the ziplocks, and wait for the great revelation, all the while hoping, praying, that in some zany scheme of events, this one will be different.

Here’s my truth.

I get it.

I envy those women who can look through all of the rain, and all of the darkness, straining their eyes, squinting against the glare in the window pane—

I get it.

Despite all of my logic, despite all of my rationale—there is something inarguably beautiful in the prospect of holding something like love, more ephemeral than a moonbeam, in my heart, if only for a second.

I get it.

And every fair to fair, when the night is thick and the rain is heavy, even I look out into the black. Because the smallest, minutest chance of a man standing there with a stereo, the resolution to all my fruitless searches, is too enticing…

Even for a “cynic” like me.


My name is Fooler.

I’m a closet romantic.

And fucking optimist.


10 Responses to “I wanted to call this “The Pompatus of Love,” but John Cusack’s not in that movie…and it doesn’t have any Peter Gabriel songs, so…”

  1. 1 Boondoc
    July 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    hmm… i wonder where i can find a ghettoblaster somewhere between atl and Virginia… i’ll check craigslist. if you’ll excuse me, i’ve got to make a powerballads mixtage and gas up my car.

  2. July 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    What I really want to do with my life – what I want to do for a living – is I want to be with your daughter. I’m good at it.- Dobler

    It is what i feel for a girl too…

    Modern love could learn a lesson from the 80s….


  3. July 30, 2011 at 8:14 am

    No I can’t call what I see on the Maury show love. It’s I-have-low-self-esteem-and-this-loser-fills-the-void syndrome. What we most often to lose when we fall “in love” is ourselves, like these aforementioned women. Love thyself first and when he starts to try and pull out some magic tricks, walking away is suddenly much easier.

  4. 4 sourpatchkid
    August 1, 2011 at 3:57 am

    “if-it-walks-like-a-duck-it’s-because-he-fucked-a-duck realism.” lol. i had to copy and paste this line in the comment box. sue me.

    this was great. #s 1-4 are straight up truth. and p’shaw–i never doubted for a sec that you were a closet romantic. i wonder if you made mama fooler proud.

  5. August 1, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Sex in the City for the black bourgeoisie is on deck! Helena is about to be mad.

  6. 6 Donn
    August 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    That whole post, Fool, is biology telling you to make a baby, and not caring about anything else in the discussion.

    “You wouldn’t buy a car if you had to drive it for the rest of your life.” – Richard Fish (attractively quirky white guy)

  7. August 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I can’t deal with this today. Thanks, Fooler.

  8. August 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    And a thug-tear was shed (-_-,)

  9. 9 Black in the Stacks
    August 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Duuddeee…this is awesome. Like fucking awesome.

  10. August 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    “Love is the only instance in which we shamelessly grant ourselves permission to vest all of our hopes into another person. And we do so with the express proviso that we will, indeed, find in that other, all that is lacking within our own selves.”

    realer words have never been written.

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a history of my meanderings….


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