Trigger alert – if you are squeamish about feet, move on….
Movies tell you that being in love is grand. It’s magical. Incredible things happen when people “fall in love”. I’m working on just such a script as we speak based on my novel (early #shamelessplug) 🙂
While yes, it is true that love is amazing, I’ve come to find that love can also f*ck up your brain, in a scientific, chemical way – look it up! – and you can’t always trust it. If you want a relationship to go the distance, base it on respect.
I often tell this story to my friends who struggle sometimes with what “being in love” really means.
When I first met Lamby, to be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed with him. He was a big, muscular dude that I thought had little substance or sensitivity. I was wrong on both counts. It took time for me to develop feelings for him, to warm up to the idea of “being in love”. When things were at their best, I would marvel at how attractive I thought he was, how smart and sexy, and how good he smelled (I would literally put my nose right into his armpit after a workout and say, “Ambrosia!”). I thought at that time that he had the sexiest feet I’d ever seen on a man. I would tell him, “Wow, Lamby, you have sexy feet. I want to kiss those little piggies and make them go weeeeee all the way home.” He’d inevitably roll his eyes or ignore what I said, but I really believed it.
After we broke up (the third and final time), I was having a particularly bad day and made the mistake of reaching out to him.
Me: Can you meet me tonight? I feel really low. I hate work and I don’t know what to do.
Lamby: Sure. Let’s meet at that Indian place that I took you to. But I have to warn you, I might be late. I broke my foot and driving is a bit difficult right now.
Me: Your foot?! Oh no! That’s terrible.
How horrible, I thought. His feet were among his better features. We met at the restaurant he suggested. He was about five minutes late. He got out of the car with some difficulty when I suddenly got a whiff of something nasty and rancid.
Me: What is that god-awful smell?
He walked closer to me. It was him. I could barely stand his scent. It reminded me of the smells that wafted up around the Toronto harbour, thick and clingy with the distinct odor of sewage.
We sat down at the restaurant and ordered appetizers in awkward silence. As we started digging into a plate of samosas it occurred to me that I hadn’t looked at his foot to see the damage. I lifted the tablecloth and looked under the table at his foot in an open-toe sandal.
Me: Oh my God! Your foot looks hideous! You must be in so much pain. Your toes are all mangled up and gnarly.
He slowly drew his chair back and dragged his other foot forward.
Lamby: It’s not that foot, it’s this one.
I stared down at both of them in disbelief. Both his feet looked like the paws of a wildebeest with toe on toe action. I felt like throwing up. He smelled like sewage, his feet were beyond disgusting and every word that spewed out of his mouth when he spoke was in ethical opposition to my core values.
How could I have seen him so differently before?
I chalk up the fantasy image of him that my mind created to a series of different things. The biggest of which is that the chemical change in my brain that resulted from no longer “being in love” with him had allowed me to see him more clearly, without filters, warts and all. And deep down, what I felt most unsettled about was the fact that I didn’t respect anything about his life choices or his principles.
When I look at the relationships I’ve been in, both sexual and platonic, it is the ones that are based on respect that have endured. The love I feel for the people in my life has deepened past the inevitable blush of excitement that comes with someone new. The blush becomes a solid, more sustainable respect for who they are as contributing human beings on earth. And as a result, the love morphs into a much more profound and spiritual feeling.
Life throws all kinds of challenges at you, sometimes daily. Weathering the storms can really test your devotion and faith. It can cause you to question what love is itself and if it is real or if it is lip service (and by lip service I mean the fake-talk kind of thing, not the oral sex kind of thing) 🙂
I am very much in love. I love life, my family, my beloved. That love grows a new leaf on the tree of life every day. Not all the leaves are perfect, not all the leaves match, but each one is earned and has taught me something valuable about myself. And, I find, the ones that are the sturdiest and most stable are the ones rooted in respect.