Page From My Book: A Life in Rom-Com Clichés
What happens when you’re living your life and a cliché walks up and smacks you in the face? Like you meet your future mother-in-law and, quelle surprise, she’s the devil. Or you agree to be a bridesmaid for your best friend, and then see the taffeta monstrosity she wants you to wear. Eye roll. There are so many bad clichés that really do happen. But somehow, when they actually happen to you, it feels like the most surprising thing in the world.
And in my experience, the only way to palate a cliché is to rise to your own occasion. Life is about writing your rom-com script for yourself, and when a cliché knees you in the balls, it’s the perfect time to shake it up and carve out an even more exciting way forward.
One of my own scripts for myself – I have many! – begins as a happy tale, then gets sad, and then gets X-rated. Just kidding. OR AM I? ACT 1: I take a huge leap for love – picture me, a lissome Natalie Portman, boarding a plane with my vintage suitcase. I moved across the country for a relationship. At first it’s exciting – montage of New York City in the winter, the big Christmas tree, drinking in cozy bars, falling in snow piles. And then as the ice melts, so does the relationship.
One year later …
My relationship failed a miserable death, but I’m now kicking butt in my new home city. Imagine I’m friends with my neighbors, I exchange high-fives with the barista on the corner and I head into work one morning with my latte, wearing an adorable dress, turn on the computer and check Facebook where I’m confronted with the news. A year after the breakup, the guy who wasn’t ever “sure” about marriage is now engaged to a much younger woman. Cue shock, tears and even an unfortunate run-in with too many frozen wine coolers. AND I’m gonna be 40 … someday.
But that, my friends, is where things get interesting. At the beginning of ACT 2, we throw out the empty pints of wallow ice cream and pull our s**t together! Insert exercise montage. And then what? Only the universe knows for sure. But, like I said, the beauty of writing your own script is that get you to effing write it! I’ll see your lonely cat lady and raise you hot Ryan Gosling sex. Crap! It does get X-rated.
Here’s how I see things going: We’re at the beginning of ACT 2, and if this was a Nancy Myers / Nora Ephron (too soon) tale, I’d be due for a series of meet cutes, funny foibles and plenty of misunderstandings before I get to my 3rd act. And in a very Bridget Jones way, I learn to love myself just the way I am.
Maybe I meet a guy while I’m training for a marathon and assume he’s gay cause he’s always with his “partner.” And while at drinks he leans in for the kiss and I freak out thinking I’m in some bizarre bi-triangle. But he’s not gay! And then finally I see him for the straight man he is and I fall madly in love with him. It’s the classic gay / ungay.
Or perhaps I’m walking my obligatory puppy that I bought to fill the broken heart void and I always see a very attractive couple walking their adorable puppy. One day, at the dry cleaners the dude hits on me, and I think he’s a disgusting creep! Only to find out that the lovely woman he’s always with is his sister who’s dying of cancer. We fall in love, she dies, the end.
In this act, right about when I was about to give up and move to Tibet to become an eat, pray, loving yak herder, things start to come together – I get the job, my hair looks great, unexpected compliments about my glowy skin and great outfits are pouring in left and right. I AM having what she’s having. Since this is MY rom-com, I end up on top here.
By the end of ACT 3, I’m on top of the world. And that’s when, obviously, the fairy tale weddings and perfect on-screen kisses come in. Cause when your life feels like a bad rom-com at the end of ACT 1, remember that you’re the writer, and you’ve got a couple more amazing acts to go. And this movie has a happy ending.