Friday, November 10, 2017

Branded By Love

Love: because that's what friends discuss for hours whilst sitting on a screened porch on a 50-degree November night.

And it wasn't just that it was comfortable enough out there, what with heaters and wraps, it was the 99% humidity under a soft-focus moon that sealed the deal. In fact, it had been noted that the clouds were hanging at street level when we'd left Club Infusion and its disco ball for a porch party conversation.

Nothing deep, just acknowledging the nature of attraction and defining quality in a relationship, an impossible task because it varies so much from person to person, even within a relationship, much less among a trio of playgoers sprawled on a porch sipping Rose while listening to the steady drip of a nearby gutter.

Communication necessarily came up and Pru posited that, "Men don't want the banana all the way in," which is in no way a quixotic euphemism and instead refers to guys who are able to tune out what their partner is saying, sometimes even while appearing to listen.

We saw that when a man is paying attention, he may participate using laments, such as Beau vainly trying to convince us that before he met Pru, he was the funny one.

"No," she said firmly and with utter disdain, followed quickly by disbelief. "I don't know why you'd think that?" But what do we know? Pru's an only child and I have five sisters, so perhaps we just never learned that all men think they're funny whether their humor supports that or not.

Tonight's topic - and its tangents - had presented itself via 5th Wall's engaging production of "Murder Ballad," which had three big things going for it: major talent, a story that was entirely sung with no dialog, and that it unfolded in an actual bar. Since we went into the play knowing there'd be a murder, one of the most compelling aspects was the ever-building tension around who would die.

At issue in "Murder Ballad" was whether or not a person can live with a simply comfortable relationship after leaving one that involved true passion. If the love of Sara's life is Tom, could she ever be truly happy with Michael? Discuss.

Perhaps most importantly, if two people who truly love each other break up, do they ever stop loving each other or trying to get back together? This was Sara and Tom's problem.

Don't ask how long
We're built for longing
Don't ask how long
Cause every answer's wrong
You and me
Are made for wanting

According to Pru, it was all a moot point because, as she pointed out, not everyone is interested in love, herself included.

From there we tried to parse the elements of attraction, discussing whether love and passion are part of a whole or separate components of a relationship. Beau made a case for the passion of an early relationship being impossible to sustain and, thus, why bother attempting love at all?

On a porch or at a restaurant - we'd begun at Peter Chang's with dinner and a bottle of the divine Domaine Paul Cherrier Sancerre Rose - the three of us make good sparring partners on the topic of romance because of our composition: two who don't believe in love and one who does. It makes for lively discussion since at this stage of life, no one's opinion is going to be changed, no matter how compelling the argument.

Someone made a case for the sentiment seen expressed on a middle-aged woman's tramp stamp at a bar: "Ain't Nobody's Old Lady," naturally tattooed in Old English script for effect and raising an eternal question. Why in 2017 do women still want to be thought of as somebody's partner?

Don't look to me for answers. If I knew, I wouldn't wake up at 4 a.m. so often to mull it over.

We hadn't gone into the well-acted "Murder Ballad" expecting it to shape the post-play porch conversation, and yet there we were making our individual cases for what constitutes love and why people behave the way they do within and without the context of relationships. I could buy into "a kiss like a mouth tattoo" reference, while they couldn't. But we didn't have to understand each other's feelings, just accept them.

"I think I've been elevated to consort," Beau observed by the end of the long evening, seemingly pleased with his new status. "You still do the dishes," Pru reminded him, tarnishing his consort crown slightly. It's amazing it even stays on with that banana coming out of his ear.

Some people won't call it love, even when it is. And this from nobody's old lady...minus the tattoo.

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