These days I find myself wondering more and more about the concept of ‘love at first sight’. Recently I reread ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in which the 17-year old boy sees a beautiful girl from afar and decides at that very moment that he can never love any other girl till the day he dies. He ‘woos’ her (the story is set in the times of frock coats and parasols and moonlight violin serenades under her balcony), and the 13-year old girl soon falls for him, but a couple of years later she comes to her senses, realizes that it wasn’t really love and marries a doctor. She has a very happy marriage till she’s 75, but our lover boy suffers all those years, till her husband dies and the book ends with the lovers reunited in their old age.
The story is exquisitely written, beautifully described and Gabriel Marquez’s use of language and his knack for storytelling is unrivaled.
But confusion kept nagging me and I wished I could better understand how one lets a lifetime go by for a love that is founded simply on another’s beauty. Lover-boy’s character has some interesting depths, too. In the half century spent waiting, he has had endless number of women and is an experienced lover. He used to devise ways and means to pick up women, have sexual relationships with them and then move on, without ever committing to any woman, always careful not to leave behind any trace… because he was saving himself for his love. Even though she was happily married and not even thinking of him for 50 odd years. And apparently it is infidelity only if it reaches her ears. When they are seventy-something-year olds, they make love for the first time. He tells her he is a virgin and she believes him, impressed…
Now that is one character I seriously have trouble understanding, in spite of his being passionate and romantic as hell. One might say that such characters do not get a place in our cyber age where the ‘woo-ing’ does not exist anymore, and a passing beauty is stared at with an open mouth, appreciated and then forgotten.
The concept of ‘love at first sight’ may remain only in romance fictions, but the relationship between love and beauty is strongly omnipresent.
A young girl dreams of a handsome young prince. A guy will dream of a tall blonde girlfriend (with big boobs), and a dark-haired Spanish beauty as his wife. Fairy tales speak of love between beautiful princesses and handsome, fearless knights come to their rescue. They speak of true love made in heaven.
Nothing wrong with dreaming. After all everyone wants dreams to be pleasant and filled with beautiful people to look at. What angers me is how some people refuse to look beyond the good looks that eventually fade into nothingness. If a couple looks good together, they must have found true love and happiness. If a girl is with a not-so-great-looking guy she must be on a rebound from the last failed relationship with the good-looking one. They forget what makes her happy, they think it is their right to interfere, to let her know that she has made a mistake and that she is going to regret it. If they can’t do that, they will satisfy themselves with gossip, snide comments, or a twisted expression now and then that says they do not truly approve.
Maybe the girl never saw what others so blatantly pointed out. Maybe she only saw him as the person who truly makes her happy, someone so genuine and wonderful it makes her want to be a better person. She sees him and finds him beautiful. In her eyes, he looks just like the man she loves…
What do you think? Was it maybe a simpler time when one saw a beautiful girl, asked for her hand in marriage and spent the rest of their lives through compromises, but leading a simple, happy life?