I don’t know if this is legal, but I'm taking my chances and copying paragraphs from a book I read a while back. It is a book titled How to be Hap-Hap-Happy like Me by Merrill Markoe who used to be head writer for David Letterman. It is kind of a self help book, but not in the way of normal self help books; rather it is a grimly funny satirical narration of a single woman’s life in the 90s. I'm going to share with you excerpts from one of the chapters “Deranged Love Mutants: The Story of Romeo and Juliet.”
So this year, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided to reread a true classic – Romeo and Juliet.
If you have not had the occasion to do so lately, please allow me to reacquaint you with the details of this timeless model of romantic love.
When we first meet the teenage Romeo, it is a Sunday night and he has decided to crash a ball just to catch a glimpse of Rosaline, a girl with whom he is desperately in love. Instead, he meets the thirteen-year-old Juliet. And even though, only seconds before he was deeply in love with Rosaline, now he knows instantly that this thirteen-year-old girl is the greatest love of his life. Really. She is. He’s not kidding this time.
Juliet has never been in love before. And yes, their two families hate each other. But so what? My parents never liked anyone I went out with either. The important thing is that by Monday afternoon, so beautiful is their love, they go ahead and get married.
Just one day later.
In lieu of a honeymoon, Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin and Juliet goes back home to spend the night at her parents’ house. Of course her parents do not know about the marriage yet, but they are so beside themselves with grief about the murdered cousin that Juliet’s father decides there is no time like the present to arrange for Juliet to marry an older man.
Well, she is thirteen and not getting any younger. Soon, she’ll be thirteen and a half. However, because he’s an adult and not a hot-headed teenager, he really doesn’t want to rush things. So he sets the wedding date for Thursday.
Naturally, the already-married Juliet realizes she must defy her father’s wishes. She is no longer a co-dependent. She has boundaries and as a fully individualized adult, she must stand up to him and tell him her intentions. She takes the most sensible course of action under the circumstances. She pretends to be dead.
This also bodes very well for the future of her marriage to Romeo since we now know that the core of any “love-at-first-sight” attraction is usually “repetition compulsion” – wherein a person reenacts the identical behavior and problems first seen in the parent-child relationship.
Thank God Romeo and Juliet killed themselves before we were able to chart their marriage any farther into the future when it most certainly would have descended into scenarios like this:
(Romeo enters parlor)
“Juliet! Juliet! My Light! I'm home! Juliet? Oh, I forgot to tell you that I ate the chocolate Easter bunny that you were… Juliet? Juliet? Oh no. Honey. Not dead again. Don’t tell me you're dead again. Please don’t be playing dead again. You were just dead on Monday. I can’t call 911 twice in one week. It is too embarrassing. Juliet? Juliet?”
Well, there you have this year’s Valentine’s Day poster couple. A thirteen-year-old girl who likes to pretend to be dead married to a teenage murderer who has no trouble falling in love with two different girls on the same Sunday night.
Which leaves us with this slightly comforting fact.
There is no reason to lament today’s lack of viable romantic models. Things are worse now than they ever were. The only difference is that back then no one watched Oprah or read psychology books. So they didn’t mind calling deranged neurotic behavior “the greatest love story ever told.”