December 23, 2004
It happened so quickly I couldn't believe it. After a seemingly endless period of F & L's (first and last dates, as I fondly call them), I met him.
When I walked into my favorite vegetarian restaurant I was relieved I'd decided to forgo my usual dazzling sweatpants/no makeup look. Finally -- someone adorable both on the inside and out (that's so rare in Los Angeles). He was witty and athletic; he came from a good family and loved dogs -- will wonders never cease? They didn't, I discovered when he walked me to me car and kissed me good night. I don't know how I managed to drive home without crashing.
Within a month, he told me he loved me. He also invited me to Passover with his family. At the seder, he leaned over to me, put his hand in mine and said, "Honey, it's our first Passover together."
Hypnotized by his casual show of abundant affection, I just squeezed his hand and smiled.
My erstwhile prince topped his Passover pronouncement with a steady stream of references to our future together. By month two, he had asked me for a drawer, and slowly started to move his belongings into my home. The insta-home invasion had begun. First there was clothing, then toiletries, followed by his prized kitchen possession -- a cast iron skillet. I was dizzy from the swiftness of it all and startled by the rapidity. But at our age, I told myself, maybe this is what happens. When it's right it's right. Right? By month three, we were planning vacations together and had intertwined our lives as if we had been dating for ages. Yes sir, we were already entrenched in the insta-relationship
And why not? We were two divorcees in our 40s who had considerable experience in dating. Why shouldn't affairs of the heart transpire quickly? It's an instant gratification society, where we can reach our friends instantaneously, purchase presents instantaneously and get dates online instantaneously. Why shouldn't love be instant, too?
I've noticed the insta-relationship happening to my friends, as well. Sarah fell desperately in love perilously fast. Both she and her guy were weary from the endless Internet dating and felt that magical connection right away. They were intimate in no time and were introduced to each other's families in a matter of just a few months. One day she called me to brag that they had made the key exchange.
"What is a key exchange?" I asked her.
"We exchanged house keys and burglar alarm codes," she said triumphantly.
Did that mean that they were committing forever? Sarah certainly thought so. But apparently her paramour didn't. She now refers to the affair as a drive-by relationship.
Mine was not a drive-by. We were taking a more scenic route.
One summer evening, I took my prince to see the revival of the Broadway musical, "Brigadoon," about a fantastical love affair. Brigadoon was a bucolic, old-fashioned land of enchantment that existed in the mist above the Scottish Highlands. Every 100 years, for just a day, the town would return to Earth and the people that lived there were never touched by the realities of modern life. Just like us.
We had already been together for seven months. Seven perfect months, untouched by reality of modern life. For me, at least. That was until I promised to buy the new mattress he wanted, thinking it would be a good investment for our future. But this led to his chilling reply: "Honey, I don't have a crystal ball into our future."
Reality slammed into my life like a car blindly coming around dead man's curve. Brigadoon vanished back into the Scottish Highlands. The fairy dust was clearing from our eyes. That was the beginning of the end.
What happened to my insta-love? What happened to the IM/eBay culture of instant gratification? Could it be that relationships need a stronger foundation than rushed expressions of sentiment? Have we become so impatient with finding "the one" that we dive right in without taking a good look at what/whom we're jumping into? Yes, we had instant gratification, but maybe it caused us to suppress our patience, prudence and that great equalizer of all -- the benefit of time.
Of course I only see this in retrospect. So now, for the future, I am going take some inspiration from "Brigadoon" and despite the crazy, hectic world we live in, I resolve to take things more slowly in my life -- particularly when it comes to relationships. I'm now going to take time to search for a pair of special glasses that will stop the rose-colored glare and help me stay grounded in the reality of relationships.
Let's just say that this purchase will definitely not be from the Internet.
Elizabeth Much is a partner with Much and House Public Relations, where she runs the entertainment division. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.