I have a bossy sort of new companion who invited herself over last night so that I could rent a movie she wanted to watch.
Although I’m sure she considers that we are friends, she knows none of my secrets and probably never will. But I allowed her to make the plans and acquiesced to them because I am trying to broaden my circle of social relationships.
Which means, I suppose, that some Fridays nights I will be punished for my altruism. Like yesterday.
“So, have you seen this movie, A United Kingdom?” Sheila asked breathlessly, moving my cat off the chair so she could have a seat. Pirate Cat and I were both momentarily perplexed as to why she hadn’t simply taken the available and identical chair next to this one that had already been occupied.
“No, I haven’t seen it,” I said. “Generally I am not a fan of movies about apartheid and racial tensions. I like more fantasy in my escapism from reality.”
Sheila stared at me, green eyes very wide. If she asks me, Where are you from? I am going to lose my shit, I thought to myself. I suddenly regretted ever attending the Meet-Up group or answering my phone or even merely breathing, right now.
To her credit, she simply said, “Oh. Well, it’s a love story. It’s going to be great.”
To summarize the movie without spoilers, a man who happens to be a king meets a woman. He is black, and she is white. They marry and all hell breaks loose on both cultural sides. Love wins the day.
“Wasn’t that just wonderful?” Sheila gushed afterwards as the credits rolled.
After a moment, I said, “Not really. I side with the uncle who told the man he was selfish. This guy put the future of his entire kingdom on the line because he wanted to marry this woman.”
Sheila’s mouth dropped open. Unlike how it’s done in Hollywood, it was not flattering in the least.
“How can you say that? They were in love! It just happened.”
Of all the things in the world that annoy me, it just happened regularly tops the list. I tried deep, calming breaths as I slowly explained. “Sheila, it didn’t just happen. The future king saw a pretty girl at a dance in London. He knew he was a nation’s leader in training; this was not a surprise. He asked the girl to dance, and he chose to pursue a relationship with her. Chose. There is a moment when you make a choice, and he made it. Nothing just happened.”
“Well, how could he know he was going to fall in love?” Sheila sputtered, her hand clutching her chest as if I were firing nuclear missiles at the concept of true love and aiming them all right at her own heart.
“What was he doing then?” I asked. “Sowing wild oats? He saw a girl and thought, ‘Hey, maybe I’ll get lucky’ but then unfortunately wanted to go all the way and marry her?”
“You’re just cynical,” Sheila stated primly. “Maybe you’ve never been in love, but when it happens, a person doesn’t have control over what they do.”
Now I was mad. “I suppose that every man or woman who has cheated on a partner has the same excuse. It just happened.”
Sheila gasped, dumbstruck that I would take an epic love story and drag it down to the animal level of infidelity. “That’s not the same at all!”
“How is it different? Explain it to me. Either you are making a choice or you are not, and the status of your relationship does not change that moment.”
Did I mention I studied at Willamette Law University in Salem, Oregon, for a year? I sometimes fall back on those cross-examination skills.
Sheila left in a huff. I was not sorry to see her go. The only thing that lingered in my mind was whether or not I have indeed become cynical about love.
Well, if it were your choice–would you?