Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tonight, tonight...

And some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies-Sex and the City

On Saturday night, I went to see a production of West Side Story and was instantly reminded of two things:

-Why West Side Story always was and always WILL be my number-one show.


-Why I am a completely hopeless romantic with absolutely no signs of growing out of it any time soon.

And it scares me.

It really makes me wonder...are diehard romantics the ones who end up dying alone? Are they waiting for something that just doesn't exist and doesn't ever happen and in the process, let several chances at happiness with a perfectly nice guy pass right by them?

I've always been a hopeless romantic...maybe it's because I was brought-up on old movies and music of a simpler and lovlier and more innocent era. (The scene in It's a Wonderful Life when George tells Mary that he "never wants to get married...ever...to anyone!" and breaks down and kisses her absolutely remains one of the most intense and passionate love scene in any movie. Ever. And they don't even DO anything!) I should have been around in the 1940's, or even before then.

When I would take creative writing classes in high school, mine were always filled with tales of handsome Irish Orphan Boys growing-up and going out into the world and finding love. (And, yes, they HAD to be Irish and they had to be orphans. I have absolutely no idea why. It became a joke among my schoolfriends. I can even remember one of them signing in my yearbook, "There is an Irish Orphan Boy out there for all of us...I promise.")

When my sister and I first watched the movie Never Been Kissed together, I burst into tears at the end when Josie FINALLY gets a real kiss and everybody cheers for her. My sister, however, just laughed when the kid asked her if she was in Special Ed. (Can you tell she and I had very different high school experiences?)

When I was younger (or, you know, NOW), I would always say that I didn't want to get married or anything unless I had a really really good "how we met" story that PROVED that faith brought us together. Stories like that were all around me...my cousin reconnected with a high school crush on the eve of her brother's wedding and were married two years later. My sister and her husband were platonic roommates first. Even when I worked at the bookstore, there was a guy and a girl who were locked out in the bargain vestibule one morning and got to talking and were married several years later.

I didn't (well, don't) just want some, "We met on Match.com!" "A mutual friend introduced us!" "We went to college together!" story.

I wanted (well, want) a, "WOW! IT WAS REALLY MEANT TO BE, WASN'T IT?!" story.

I find myself always looking for those "signs". A few years ago, I was wrapping customers' purchases at Barnes and Noble on Christmas Eve. A woman snapped at me because I wasn't wrapping her exercise equipment to her liking (yes, she bought exercise equipment at Barnes and Noble) and snatched it from me and told me that she'd just do it herself at home.

A young guy on line behind her asked me if I wanted him to run after her and go, "MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU TOO LADY!" and then he stayed for a while and joked around with me and cheered on my giftwrapping skills for a while.

He eventually gave me his phone number on a scrap of wrapping paper. I never called him, and he would cross my mind a few times after that...it seemed quite Family Channel Holiday Movie sceneish to me. In the movie, though, I would lose the number and then find it on New Year's Eve or the following Christmas or something.

Also in the movie, I'd be played by Julianna Margulies.

What if that wrapping paper guy WAS my soulmate? What if that rude woman was sent to me for a reason on that Christmas Day in order to help us meet?

What if what if what if...

If it was really meant to be, wouldn't our paths have crossed again?

(Honestly, I can't even remember what this guy looked like and I wouldn't know him if I fell over him in the street.)

I can't believe that after watching the movie seven thousand times and listening to the album over and over and seeing a bunch of community and regional productions, West Side Story still absolutely makes me melt...every single time. When I was reading the bios in my program Saturday night, the man who played Doc wrote that the gymnasium scene was very similar to how he met his wife...and I read that, and thought, "Now THIS is what it's all about! Seeing somebody from across a crowded room and knowing that very moment!" I wonder how often that really happens.

After "One Hand, One Heart", I turned to my friend and whispered, "HE IS GOING TO DIE SOON!"

And, of course, Tony DID die. Tony dies every time.

I think the ending of West Side Story is MUCH more tragic than the ending of Romeo and Juliet. I honestly don't find Romeo and Juliet sad at all. Romeo and Juliet both end up dead! Maria ends up alone! Then I would start to wonder, "IS she going to ever love again?" And, my mind goes in the other direction also..."What if Tony HAD lived? Would things have worked out for them? Were they really in love?"

But I just love that story! (And it is near-impossible for me to ever listen to the scene when they first meet and not hold out my arms and snap my fingers like they do...) It always makes my heart soar and believe that things like that really can happen. I can tell myself a million times that love at first sight just doesn't happen like that...that Maria and Tony knew each other for a DAY...how serious could it have possibly BEEN? And that now that he's dead and she's only, what, 17...she'll probably be married to somebody else with children within the next five years and will never even GIVE that random boy she loved and lost all within twenty-four hours once upon a time a second thought!!! I can tell myself this a million times...and it honestly doesn't make a difference at all.

And, like my friend wrote in my yearbook so many years ago...there really IS an Irish Orphan Boy out there for everybody. (Although I'm sure when he turns up, he'll probably be in a really good disguise and not even BE an Irish Orphan Boy at all!...)

Old habits are very hard to break. Perhaps the term "hopeFUL" romantic is more precise...

Diana Rissetto