In 1979 Freddie Mercury sang about a “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. The lyrics of the song suggest that when it comes to matters of the heart, reason
very rarely comes into play. In fact, more often than not, common sense goes out the window completely and people act out of character. Every romantic-comedy churned out by Hollywood seems to reinforce this idea. Cynical Harry Burns runs from one side of New York to the other on New Year’s Eve to tell Sally Albright he loves her in When Harry Met Sally. In Roman Holiday, hardened journalist Joe Bradley keeps Princess Ann’s wild antics under wraps when he would usually relish having the scoop! Disney also perpetuates the concept of, quite literally going to the ends of the earth for the one you love. Prince Philip completes a treacherous journey and battles a ferocious dragon in order to wake Sleeping Beauty. Ariel gives up her voice so she can become human and have the chance to impress Prince Eric. Hercules is willing to give up his life to save the woman he loves.
All that is well and good in the world of music and film but what about in the real world? Is the ordinary person willing to go to extraordinary lengths when it comes to matters of the heart? I got to thinking about my own experiences on this subject and I asked some of my friends how far they have gone for love. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the responses and it is nice to know that, contrary to popular belief, romance is certainly not dead within my own circle of friends at any rate. I’ll start off with my own.
When I was fifteen I was reunited with a boy I knew from playing piano with. I had actually been teased in primary school about supposedly going out with him because we played piano duets together. I was ten or eleven at the time! Then when I was in third year of secondary school I joined a Gospel choir and I met Liam* again at the audition. We chatted and laughed together afterwards. I didn’t come across him again until the Junior Certificate (equivalent of GCSEs) results came out and I met him at the disco in the town. We ended up kissing and he took my number. I was smitten. However, two days later I got a new phone complete with new number and no way of contacting Liam as I hadn’t taken his! How was I meant to get in touch with him so he wouldn’t think I had given him a fake one on purpose? ! I spent the next week asking around my secondary school until one of my best friends
managed to get Liam’s number from a girl in her class who used to go out with him. I was ecstatic and texted him that evening, explaining I had gotten a new number. He asked me out and we ended up going out together for three months so my chasing around paid off!
A friend of mine had a romantic encounter with a tennis player. Clara was playing tennis for her university and met a guy Alan from one of the rival teams at the Intervarsities. On one of the social nights out they ended up kissing and Alan wouldn’t let Clara leave without putting her number in his phone. They texted each other sporadically while at uni and then a bit more regularly during the summer holidays. Clara jokingly suggested that Alan could visit her during the summer and Alan actually agreed to it. He got up at 6 in the morning to hop on a bus to travel 182 kilometres across the country just to see Clara for one night! They met up again once more during the summer and texted each other but decided to call it quits when they both returned to their separate universities in September. Still, I was impressed by the effort Alan had made just to see a girl! Proof that the modern man is willing to travel great distances for a woman he likes!
In the end, the methods employed won the objects of affection but it isn’t always the case. A good friend of mine from Edinburgh volunteered at a summer camp for disabled children to impress a girl he fancied who was also working there. It didn’t work out quite how he had hoped but as he put it, “it ended up being a deeply rewarding experience despite the fact that I never pulled the bird”. So even though his efforts didn’t lead to romance it led to something arguably more fulfilling.
Another of my male friends had an original way of giving his number to a girl he was interested in. I was pleasantly surprised when I read his story as Cian has a reputation among our group as a bit of a Casanova, of which he is quite proud. He claims his idea of romance is singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” to a woman to see if she likes Top Gun as much as he does. Enough said. Anyway, when Cian came across one particular girl he gave her an Easter egg with his phone number on it – certainly more original than just slipping a note in her pocket. He never elaborated as to whether or not the girl phoned him but the gesture says a lot about the thought he put into the chase. A similar story of leaving a number for a woman occurred with my friend Jim. He wrote his number on the back of a receipt and left it for the lady at the till in Tesco. Again, I’m not sure how it worked out but fair play to him for being brave enough to do it!
Looking at this small selection it’s easy to see that romance and spontaneity is present even in the real world outside of film and music. Scenes where boys run through airports in order to say goodbye to the girl they like might be a bit extreme but they have their roots somewhere. People do jump the barriers of darts just before the doors close to steal a kiss off their future girlfriends ( this couple have been together for four years and still very much in love). People travel long distances every week or month to be with the person they love. My brother and his fiancée had to commute between Cork and Dundalk for a few months before she managed to find a job in a school in Cork. Even more extreme is a friend of mine from school who flew between America and Dundalk to be with her then American boyfriend! She just married him in the States and is ecstatically happy! However, the last story I am going to describe is by far the most romantic and truly the stuff of Hollywood films.
A friend of mine, Grace, worked in a shopping centre in Maynooth. She met a man who showed such an interest in her that he asked his friend about her after meeting her for the first time. He heard that she was working in this shopping centre and looked out for her every time he came up to Maynooth since. This was to no avail as she had since left the job. However, two months later they eventually met again and are now engaged. Obviously he was so smitten with Grace that he trawled the shops just to get the chance to talk to her. Even though it didn’t work at the time, providence obviously saw fit to reward his search at a later stage.
So what is there to be taken from all of this? That maybe in an increasingly cynical world romance is not as dead as people think it is. That even though we might not leap across ravines and battle dragons to win the object of our affections as they do in the movies, we are still willing to go that extra mile to impress someone we like. Whether it be trawling through a 100 Lucy Kavannaghs in the phonebook until you reach the right one or suddenly starting a collection of baseball hats because you want to see the cute guy who works at the counter of the sports shop, spontaneity is still very much alive in our society.
*all names have been changed to prevent embarrassment of those who shared their stories with me!