‘Tis the season to be jolly and hot damn am I ecstatic about it! I spend 11 months of the year physically having to stop myself getting excited about Christmas. I start my shopping in July and by November I am the biggest pain in the arse to be around for anyone of a Scrooge-ish nature (although there are many who would argue that the time of year isn’t a factor in this, but that is a blog for a different day…) The second we ticked into December, I was off. The elf hat was on and I was metaphorically decking the halls (which sounds a bit like a euphemism for a Christmas-themed sexual position, no? Maybe something involving tinsel and baubles? But I digress.)
As is decreed by law, I dug out some Christmas films to get into the spirit of things. I hadn’t seen Love, Actually for a few years and I could remember melting into a puddle of joy the first time I saw it in the cinema all those yuletides before, so I decided that that was definitely the way to go. A film chock full of soppy romanticism and Alan Rickman? Hell yeah!
As I settled in to watch it, though, I couldn’t help but notice something that had gone right over my head during previous viewings, to whit:
This film is fucking bananas.
I mean, seriously. Watch it again if you haven’t seen it recently (or at all). It’s insane.
According to the laws of the Love, Actually universe, two people can fall madly in love and get engaged within a matter of weeks despite never having had a conversation (because they don’t share a language).
A man will actively encourage his child to risk arrest and a possible terrorism charge in order to chase a girl through an airport on the off chance she won’t smack him in the teeth for chasing her through said airport and delaying her flight as a result of the inevitable security alert.
A man with all the charm and allure of a cadaver that’s been left in the sun for three days manages to play hide the salami with not two, not even three, but four beautiful women! At the same time! Because apparently you can polish a turd – you just have to make it cross an international date line first.
It is perfectly normal for the head of a country to take advantage of and then unceremoniously sack a female member of his staf- oh no, wait – that’s actually pretty on the nose…moving swiftly on.
I was willing to overlook all of that though, largely because I love this film, and then it happens. If you’ve seen it before, I think you’ll know which part I mean.
Sweet baby Santa Claus.
If you haven’t seen it, Andrew Lincoln’s character (who, for the purposes of this post, we’ll call Stalky McGee) creepies around being in love with his best friend’s wife. She, in turn, is completely oblivious to this, until she asks to see the video he made of her wedding and realises that the only person he videoed, at his best friend’s wedding, was her. It all gets understandably awkward for a bit, especially seeing as how the whole thing is framed as being terribly romantic. You’re obviously meant to be thinking oh, how adorable – Stalky’s in love. And, to be fair, up to that point it’s not so unreasonable (bar the video – there’s no non-weird way to spin that. He’s actively hidden it but keeps it on his shelf. Jesus, Stalky. This is why no-one invites you to parties.) Most of us have developed crushes on inappropriate people at one point or another though and, let’s face it, unrequited love is a total arse ache at the best of times, so it’s kind of relatable. Plus, it helps immensely that it’s Andrew Lincoln and not, say, the fella from the Mr Muscle ads.
And then those fucking placards happen.
For the benefit of those who haven’t seen it, Stalky shows up at her door on Christmas Eve. Luckily for him, she answers (although I personally think it would have been a much better film if it had’ve been her husband. Very different genre though, and not nearly so festive.) He then proceeds to declare his love for her, via the medium of said placards (that emphasise the handy caveat that he is doing this without hope or agenda, to which I say, then why the fuck are you doing it, Stalky? Don’t be that guy!) He even goes so far as to suggest that he will love her until she dies.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Until. She. Dies.
With a few minor tweaks, that could easily be a scene from a horror movie.
Well, this is madness, you think to yourself. She’s obviously going to tell him to jib off and go back to scoffing Terry’s Chocolate Orange in front of the telly with her super-hot husband. But no! Instead of responding with a well-timed knee to the knackers, she runs after him down the street and gives him a kiss on the mouth before running back into her house. Because it turns out Richard Curtis is a psychopath.
As I rage-barfed into my mince-pies, it got me thinking about the shit Hollywood has to answer for in terms of the grand romantic gesture. Consider all the big moments you see on screen. Your mad dash to stop a wedding and/or the airport. Your Flash Mob declarations of undying love. Your perfectly reasonable decision to hand-build their dream house despite the fact that they never once replied to the 365 letters you wrote to them (I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks.)
That’s all very well when the other person is weeping and trying to remember what the next line in the script is. But it did get me to wondering. Because, in terms of romantic gestures, I’ve been pretty lucky. Any that I’ve had have been small scale, and at no point did I have to worry about crowd control. But what about my friends? Did they have tales to tell?
Of course they did! And, in the words of another Richard Curtis character – Spike from Notting Hill – they’ll make your balls shrivel to the size of raisins.
They run the gamut from the usual/normal, slightly misguided but understandable faux pas all the way up to the downright certifiable. On the slightly lower end of the spectrum, there was the friend who was in a relationship that was all but over. In what has to be the least advisable attempt at couple’s therapy ever, her soon-to-be very ex-boyfriend presented her with an un-neutered, un-vaccinated, and by all accounts enormous, staffie pup. Because when everything else fails, nothing can save a dying relationship like an unwanted pet. As you can imagine, it went over about as well as…well…giving someone who is trying to break up with you a dog. Try not to do this either. The RSPCA do not appreciate it.
The same woman came across a guy at a wedding who she thought was quite cute. After a brief conversation, she continued on with her bridesmaiding and he continued on with being secretly insane. The following day, she received a Facebook friend request from him. Why not? She thought. How bad can it be?
The answer to that question is: pretty bad. He managed to figure out her birthday, find her address, send her a bunch of flowers on her birthday and then offer to move to Australia to be with her.
Yeah. Pretty fucking bad indeed. (Unless you’re Richard Curtis, in which case you’ll probably think it’s a perfectly reasonable response to meeting the love of your life.) It’s a wonder she ever leaves her house.
But the prize has to go to the final tale I will be telling today. A different friend, who happened to have bright purple hair at the time, was working in a store that will remain nameless. A regular customer, who had indicated his preference for her in the past, came in with a pal, who proceeded to tell her that her admirer had recently gotten a new tattoo. He was reluctant to reveal it, though, to which his friend responded with why did you get it if you weren’t going to show her then? A statement that’s up there with them’s awfully big teeth you have, Grandma in terms of things you don’t want to come up in a conversation taking place in an enclosed space.
After some cajoling, he unveiled his artwork. You know that bit in a film where someone does something and you’re like as if that would ever happen in real life! Well, I’m pretty sure this guy was the inspiration for literally all of that. The tattoo turned out to basically be an anime version of her, replete with bright purple hair and everything. As a rule, take it for granted that it is never going to be a good idea to get a tattoo of someone you barely know in an attempt to declare your love. There is really no way to over-stress that point.
In fact, when it comes to romance in general, you should think of grand gestures in the same way as you would, say, committing a crime. Imagine yourself having to explain your actions in a courtroom, then try to avoid that action completely. And never ever take advice from Richard Curtis.