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The Rational Heart

 
I don't do surprises.  There are just too many unknown variables associated with surprises - and they stress me out.  In fact, I have never been good with surprises.  Most children eagerly anticipated Christmas, but not me.  I would look at the gift-wrapped boxes artfully arranged beneath the Christmas tree and feel angst.  What could be inside that slender, rectangular box with the velvet bow?  Is it a watch?  Pencil case?  What?  What is it? 
 
I was fairly young when I began staging elaborate reconnaissance missions to determine the contents of the Christmas boxes beneath our tree.  I would wait until my mother was fast asleep and then snake into the living room on my belly, wiggling to a shadowy corner to unwrap each gift with the stealth of an elf. 
 
Even today, as an adult, I am not good with surprises.  Whenever I buy a friend a gift, I am filled with this prickly anticipation.  What will they think of my gift?  Is it generous enough?  I literally have to restrain myself from discussing the holidays or gifts with my friends or I will inevitably blurt out what I got them. 
 
"Remember that antique biscuit tin we saw in Strasbourg?  I know how much you loved it so I hunted all over the Internet and found one.  Merry Christmas!"
 
I just don't like the unknown.  It frightens me.
 
Perhaps that's why I don't like taking pop quizzes - even the personality quizzes found online or in magazines.  What if I take this quiz and it reveals I am a loser/will never find true love/have a foot fetish?
 
Despite my fear of the unknown and my aversion for tests, I recently took an online quiz.  My Heart Chart on Two Of Us promised to help me decipher what my heart was trying to tell me.  (Apparently, my heart and I have been having some serious misunderstandings.  It turns out, I am not truly yearning for a charming pied-à-terre located above a chocolatier in Paris.  Who knew?)
 
In the interest of preserving our friendship and my journalistic integrity, I feel I must confess something:  I cheated.  (Whew.  That's a weight off my shoulders.  I feel better having confessed.) 
 
I looked at the types of hearts before I took the quiz.  I had no idea, but there are many types of hearts.  The Rational Heart. The Resolute Heart.  The Reluctant Heart.  The Romantic Heart.  And, The Restless Heart.
 

I smiled when I saw The Romantic Heart listed as one of the possible outcomes of the quiz.  I think the corners of my lips actually touched my earlobes - my smile was that broad because I was that sure the results of the quiz would determine I was a (cue violin music, toss the rose petals into the air, sigh) Romantic Heart.
 
Feeling confident in the outcome, I clicked What Heart Are You and began answering questions like:  Do you believe every person has a single soul mate?  Is it okay for people to divorce?  Should a couple live together before marriage?
 
Frankly, I was shocked that the questions were so easy for me to answer.  I did not have to pause to consider my answers; there was no hesitation before clicking Heck No or Absolutely!  The ease with which I answered the questions deepened my belief that I was a Romantic Heart.  I know my heart and am sure in my beliefs. 
 
You can imagine my surprise when I clicked SUBMIT and saw the results:  You are a Rational Heart.
 
"Rational Heart
Marriage is Hard Work
You have a very practical approach to marriage and view this life-long commitment with some caution. To you, a happy marriage is not the result of the mythical good fortune of having found your "soul mate." Rather, you believe that a rewarding union is the result of smart relationship decisions — and hard work.


I read the description and sputtered.  I actually sputtered.  Rational Heart? What in the hell? I am not rational! I am freaking Romantic! 

Struggling to keep an open mind, I clicked on the link to watch the brief video about Rational Hearts.


 
Am I the only one disturbed by the fact that the young man in the video is hearing voices in his head?  Or that he is more focused on his internal soundtrack - a terribly toxic soundtrack that is telling him he essentially sucks - than the momentous external events taking place around him?  He's at his wedding, looking at his beaming bride, and thinking, "Should I even be here?  Am I marrying the right woman?  Does her family really like me?"
 
Um.  The Groom isn't a Rational Heart, he's a Schizophrenic with paranoid delusions.  "Why does she hate me?  Why does she hate me?"
 
As if the little mini-drama wasn't disturbing enough, Drs Leslie and Les Parrott, the psychologists and best selling authors who created the Heart Quiz, pop up on the screen and continue to hurl barbs at my already wounded pride by saying things like, "Well, you have a rational heart...You're very practical when it comes to this ideal of romance.  You're not swept away by those magical fairytale visions of love...You don't buy into romantic notions like 'you complete me' or 'Happily Ever After.'"
 
I sat, staring at the screen, thinking, "What in the hell are they talking about?  Who are they talking about?  If the Parrotts truly believe I am not a romantic heart, they are a couple of feather brains!"
 
I am a romantic heart.  I exchange Valentines cards with my close friends.  I possess an impressive collection of romantic movies on DVD, adore Jane Austen novels, and cry whenever I watch sappy commercials! I write bloody romance novels for Cupid's sake! I can't be a RATIONAL HEART!
 
I took the quiz again, clicked submit, and read the words: Congratulations! You're a RATIONAL HEART!
 
How could that be?  Have I become jaded?  Have I lost my faith in romance?
 
I remembered myself at twenty-years-old, a starry-eyed blonde with a head full of dreams and a heart full of hope. Back then, I believed there was one person out there destined to love me for all eternity.  I believed the purpose of my life was to embark on the noble quest to find that soul mate - my soul mate. I believed in Happily Ever Afters. 
 
Looking in the mirror, I have the same blue eyes, same blonde hair.  And yet, I realize I am not the same woman I was when I was twenty.  
 
Disappointment has transformed me, left me disillusioned in love and doubtful in the notions of soul mates and happily ever afters.  So, what do I now believe?
 
I still believe in long-lasting love, but I don't believe it happens as smoothly or magically as depicted in love stories.  There are no glass slippers, no little blue birds to bring me my fluttery gowns, and no perfect Prince Charming to share in all my dreams.
 
I believe love takes a lot of work to sustain - up at dawn, back-breaking, pride squashing, work.  Love is not a romantic comedy.  There is no soundtrack playing in the background - the violins don't swell every time two lovers meet. 
 
I believe it is ridiculous to hope for Happily Ever After when you should be wishing for Happy Most Of The Time
 
Think how much more well-adjusted girls would be if they read a Cinderella that ended with Happy Most Of The Time and not Happily Ever After
 
Maybe Cinderella should be rewritten to include scenes of the new Princess scrubbing sweat stains out of Charming's snazzy uniform coat while a colicky infant wails on her hip.  Maybe there should be a scene where Charming tells Cinderella that her efforts in the palace aren't nearly as important as his Princely duties throughout the realm.  And then Cinderella could turn all cold and freeze Charming out of the marital bed.  They could fight about the royal offspring, Charming's arrogant and aloof demeanor, the way the coins in the coffer should be spent...
 
Wait a minute!  Did I just suggest that Cinderella should be rewritten to include a dreary, more realistic ending? 
 
Holy crap!  The Parrotts aren't bird brains.  They were right!  I am a rational heart.  I still believe in the fairytale and I yearn for the happily ever after, but I know, deep down, that it won't happen.  I know that the best I can hope for is Happy Most Of The Time (with a lot of hard work).
 
I yearn for that perfect soul mate, the one who shares all of my dreams and believes I am a princess even when I am acting like a wicked witch.  I yearn for that Prince among men who would happily stroll along the Seine with me, feed me chocolate, recite poetry, gaze at the sunset, and then enter and win a triathlon. (Okay, I realize I might be asking for a bit much here.   I mean, I am in my 40s and hardly a specimen of extreme physical fitness.  Scratch that last bit.  He doesn't need to win a triathlon, just compete in one.  Just kidding). 
 
The sad thing is, I don't think there is a perfect man out there for me.  I don't think anyone - not even Prince Charming - could put up with my trunk full of ugly dresses.  I am an "in the head" kinda gal who sometimes over analyzes things.  And, I am completely random - one day I might prefer to get dressed up and go to a museum exhibition or a classical concert or I might want to stay in bed and watch romantic (Yes, romantic! Take that, Drs. Parrotts) movies and eating triple chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream frosting.  I am verbose when I am nervous or really excited, cranky when I am over-tired, snooty about hotels, and particular about household cleanliness. 

I am also a bundle of contradictions.  I hate gossip but love People.  I hate raw tomatoes but crave salsa.  I am a Republican with a load of left leaning views.  I am a devout Christian but don't like talking about religion (or politics) in public.    I enjoy fine things but believe materialism is one of the failings of our great nation.  See, I am a mess.  I am Cinderella before the make-over.
 
So what did I learn from taking the What Heart Are You quiz?  Two things:  I am not the starry-eyed romantic I once was and I hate still hate surprises!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you sound like you have grown up. You've learned to balance romantic dreams with reality. Romance is easy, but sustaining long term love is not. Thanks for sharing your feelings. You are fearless and interesting.

JT