Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Every rom-com ever

I've never had the experience of having a sister, or even a female cousin living in the same town. Instead, I was blessed (or cursed, depending on the day) with three younger brothers. I never thought too much about how being totally outnumbered affected me until I went away to college and started living with girls. At first it was an adjustment living in a female-oriented household, but by the time I graduated I was used to it. Now that I'm back home, there are some things about our household that I've realized are because of the male/female ratio.

Take, for example, the type of movies we watch. Name any PG-13 action movie made within the last eight years and I've seen it. If a movie doesn't include a wildly destructive car chase, gun-toting bad guys who couldn't hit an elephant from ten feet away, someone jumping out of a building/helicopter/speeding car without breaking any bones and at least one explosion, my brothers aren't interested in watching it, and generally majority rules. That probably explains why years ago when our second cousins came to visit and we were talking about movies, one asked Lance if he liked chick flicks, to which he replied seriously, "I don't think I've seen that one before."

It also explains why Cole can't follow the plot of a romantic comedy, even thought they are all exactly the same. Man and woman meet in a way that makes a bad first impression. They find out, to their horror, that they will have occasion to be spending a lot of time together. They annoy each other while one person's spunky sidekick makes jokes about it. They have a breakthrough moment where one character is emotionally vulnerable and opens up to the other, who comforts them. They pretend that night didn't happen, but start spending a lot of time looking at each other across the room. This upsets the nice person one of them is dating, who gets mad at first but eventually says "Go on, I know true love when I see it." It looks like they are going to get together, but there is some sort of misunderstanding or it is revealed one character was lying to the other. They fight. One packs bags for a trip, moving out of town, quitting their job, etc. The other shows up at the last second and apologizes in a sappy speech. They kiss. The camera pulls back and they are now at their wedding. The spunky sidekick and the nice ex get each other as a consolation prize. Credits roll.

But if you are a sixteen-year-old boy, the conversation you have with your older sister and mother who ganged up on you when the rest of the menfolk were gone for the evening, goes something like this:
"Why did she leave?"
"Because she is mad at him."
"Because he keeps watching the other girl instead of listening to her."
"Why would he be watching the other girl? He doesn't like her."
"Yes he does, he's just pretending he doesn't."
"How the heck do you know all of that? They didn't ever say any of it. You're just supposed to know because of their facial expressions? This movie is more confusing than Inception."

I guess I could see why he would be confused. Life generally doesn't happen that way, especially when you're in high school. In high school it goes like this: Girl falls for guy. Guy falls for a different girl, who likes his best friend, who likes the first girl, who thinks he is gross. There is a lot of angst and poetry writing. After two weeks they play romantic musical chairs and this time two lucky pairs actually manages to like each other at the same time, while one girl is left out in the cold. She listens to a lot of Avril Lavigne while the two romantic couples write sappy love songs for each other. At the end of the week, one of the girls catches her boyfriend talking to another girl in his class and immediately breaks up with him for "cheating." The Avril girl sees her opportunity and hooks up with him, while the girl who dumped him gets mad at her friend for "betraying" her. Every week is a new episode in the soap opera until by graduation the student body has tried every romantic combination possible, in some cases twice, and none of them have worked.

Movies may be far-fetched, but maybe TV shows aren't so unrealistic after all.

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