Wednesday, 30 July 2014

"So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?" "She rescues him right back."

In 'Pretty Woman', when Richard Gere shows up outside Julia Robert's apartment, facing his fear of heights and clutching a bouquet of roses between his teeth, I suppose the aim of the scene was to make women all over the world melt into their seats and curse their partners for not reaching the same levels of romance. And whilst some girls probably "aww"'ed, it actually made me heave a little. Am I a cynic for saying it didn't have the desired effect on me?
Maybe it's because I'm more of a Hugh Grant fan, instead?

Whatever the reason for my lack of emotion, I can't help but feel sorry for those girls who place ridiculous expectations on their boyfriends; not everybody is going to have the amount of money that Richard Gere possesses, others might require hypnotherapy before curing such extreme fears and well, other men might just be lazy.

For 21 years, give or take, I've been over the moon when a man has done something as simple as buy me a drink. The idea that a woman would place every single one of her expectations on a man who she has only known a short time confused me. What about her career? Her ambition?

Needless to say, I haven't climbed very far up the relationship ladder. Still though, I always assumed that when the time was right, I would meet somebody who wasn't phased by my lack of interest in a relationship, and could deal with my always-dramatic mood swings.
Continuing with this assumption, I've been happy drinking the drinks men bought me and flirting with them until the inevitable "I only live around the corner..." popped into the conversation. Even though, nine times of ten, that corner was usually an hour away.

It wasn't until recently that I realised I've never really been shown the "How To" guide on dating; not that that's anybody's fault but isn't there a list of rules we're supposed to be following, in order for us to achieve the golden status? The 'married with 2.4 kids and a white picket fence' status? If there is, I've definitely missed out. Is there a Facebook page on it?
I have no idea how to date, how long to wait before I let somebody see me naked, what to even do when that topic gets brought up...up until now, I've always downed whatever I've been drinking at the time and hoped for the best.
But then, we never really get given a "How To" guide on life, do we? So, just like our everyday existence, does the same apply for our relationships? Just keep our fingers crossed, submit our CVs to a few potential places and hope that one of them calls you back for a second interview?

In Caitlin Moran's latest novel 'How To Build a Girl', the main character, Johanna Morrigan, goes on a long and eventful adventure in order to build her own 'How To' guide. She sleeps with people she shouldn't be sleeping with, works out the best way to embarrass yourself on national television and builds herself upon a foundation of her heroes. All before she realises it's going to take more than that to make her fall in love with herself.
I haven't embarrassed myself on national television (although through social media, I'm pretty sure rather questionable photos have been 'leaked'), I've definitely got down and dirty with people I shouldn't have even been talking too and, God, if I even began building myself from building blocks made from my heroes, I'd be a mess by tomorrow lunchtime.

The very subtle point Moran was making throughout the book was that it takes more than one attempt at the above to work out who you are. And to work out how to love that person.
It takes an absolute tonne of attempts and it's definitely not for the fainthearted:

"So what do you do when you build yourself - only to realise you built yourself up with the wrong things? You rip it up and start again...and you will be quite on your own when you do all this. There is no academy where you can learn to be yourself; there is no line manager, slowly urging you towards the correct answer. You are midwife to yourself, and will give birth to yourself, over and over, in dark rooms, alone."

I would never expect somebody to love me, if I couldn't even love myself; if I hated myself for saying I liked a band based on somebody else's interests, how could I expect somebody else to like that?
So whilst we may not be presented with a 'How To' guide on relationships and dating, it's because we're still writing our 'How To' on just...being. When we're comfortable and content with who our favourite bands are and whether we're sleeping with somebody because we really, really like them or simply just for attention, the other guides start to write themselves.

Maybe Julia Roberts didn't really want to be in a relationship at the start of 'Pretty Woman', but experiencing things with Richard Gere made her realise she did. Because, she had ripped up the version of herself that knew how to live without him and wrote herself a new version of, well, her, including him, and it read much better.

I suppose these 'How To' guides are simply that: a guide. And who says what's right or wrong? We're our own authors.
Maybe I shouldn't feel sorry for those girls who place every single ounce of their being on a relationship, because they probably feel sorry for me, when they see me drinking drinks bought for me by men I don't know.

Whether you want your very own Richard Gere or you're trying to be Richard Gere yourself, this 'How To' guide is awfully time-consuming and thirsty work; whilst I'm trying to write my own guide, I'm going to keep accepting those drinks bought for me and try to cut down on those mood swings.

The moral of this blog is that I'm 99% sure Julia Roberts only had two mood swings throughout the entire film...nobody should be expected to deal with that.
So let's just finish writing our own 'How To' guides before we base our happy endings on somebody else's story.