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Full of Smit

By Scott E. Roeben

If there's anything that simply does not seem to go out of style, it's love. Well, love, and those furry toilet seat covers. But it's love that concerns me here, and more specifically, the early stages of love. You know the period I'm talking about. When you're smitten. Head-over-heels, walking-into-furniture, cognitively impaired, "just-like-the-movies- except-actors-have-better-hair-and-make-up" falling in love. It's a great feeling. Like a drug, really. Except that with love, you don’t end up using phrases like "that dude's whacked out" or "hey, is it just me or is that end table made of worms?"

If you think about it, falling in love is the closest most of us will get to being insane. Because what is insanity? And I'm not just talking about the kind of insanity exhibited by venture capitalists who invest in a Web company based on a business plan written on the back of a cocktail napkin. I'm talking about the other kind of insanity. I recently looked up the term "insanity" in a dictionary, and it said insanity meant "not sane." No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find a definition for "duh," which would undoubtedly have proven my point were I to actually have one at some point.

Love, like insanity, turns our world upside down. Which might explain all the loose change under our sofa cushions, come to think of it.

The strange part of falling in love is that we know full well we can't possibly sustain that level of bliss for very long. So, like the insane, we delude ourselves. We tell ourselves that, hey, while no attack of infatuation has ever lasted for more than three months, THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT. No evidence to the contrary will divert us from our inevitable course directly into the despair and disillusionment.

Yes, the disillusionment will come. Science tells us that the feeling of falling in love has a definite chemical cause in our bodies. After a certain period of time, the chemicals that produce the feelings of profound "smit" begin to wane, or at least change. Therefore, no matter how perfect that certain someone may be, no matter how attractive or charming or wealthy (you know who you are), the feelings of infatuation will fade. Some will survive this change, transforming their relationship into something mature and lasting. Others will laugh at those people, because they know full well that maturing is about as much fun as licking the floor of a movie theater.

When it comes to falling in love, we keep coming back for more. We wear our anguish like a badge of honor. Even as we grow older, we seek the excitement, the pulse-raising rush of a new love. This fact suits songwriters and greeting card companies to a tee, even though I have no clear idea as to what "suiting something to a tee" actually is.

Infatuation is evidence of the eternal optimism of human beings—hope flying in the face of logic. Like the lottery. And the odds of ending up a winner are about the same.

Still, there are the stories—the stories of lovers who find each other, and fall in love, without fear. And they go off together, smiling glowingly, never quibbling about whose turn it is to call next, or whether they're going to watch PBS or the rubefest on the Nashville Network. I've never known any couples like that, mind you. No, the ones I've met don't smile all that much. They just spend their time talking about what a shame it is that things have changed between them.

None of that matters, though. Puppy love has endured the centuries. It’s never about logic, or the likelihood of a successful outcome. It’s about hope.

And truth be told, I'm even thinking about buying a lottery ticket.


Scott Roeben, 2000. All rights reserved.