When I was a kid, they had this thing called a celebrity roast. People got together and made fun of the guest of honor. It had a weird, rough-handling vibe. I think it may have come from a wise place in someone’s psyche. Celebrities regularly have “smoke blown up their” fundaments. A roast could remind them that they were, in truth, much like everyone else, and…a roast could be funny. Many of them had genuinely funny moments. (Though I think peoples’ feelings were hurt at these things, and the humor got brutal, and thus they lost their cache.)
I remember a comedian named Red Buttons going on and on about how dumb it was to give the guest of honor such a sparkling honorific since a whole lot of more deserving people “never got a dinner.” This morning I want to steal Red Buttons’ routine because I just saw a writer on the CBS Morning News that definitely did NOT deserve to have national attention for the self-indulgent and negative claptrap she has put between two covers because the really great writers I have published and read never got such a boost. None of them ever got a plug the CBS Morning News.
First of all, I want to mention this woman’s name and her book. Her name is Mandy Catron. Her book, a book which got a plug on the CBS Morning News, is titled How to Fall in Love with Anyone. I did not buy this book, but I did look it up on amazon.com, the evil empire, and read enough of it to know it is a collection of contradictions and navel gazing about how “stories we are told about love mislead us.”
Her book is about love, and she begins with the story of how she was going to leave her current man. Maybe his story wasn’t good enough.
My biggest objection rises in response to her statement that stories about love mislead us. Maybe she should try reading a story rather than watching a piece of commercial soft porn packaged as a love story. You don’t hear people objecting to the story lines in porn. They know the stories are not based on truth. This woman thinks Dirty Dancing is an attempt at truth? (I will now resist the urge to refer to her as a moron.) She might as well be complaining about being lied to about the tooth fairy. GET OVER IT! No one thought you would buy that past the age of five. Everyone who saw Dirty Dancing knew it was just a way to get Patrick Swayze into sexy bed scenes with that skinny girl. The movie had the line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” That would be a big red light flashing, “THIS MOVIE IS JUST A JOKE!”
Stories, especially written stories, that are genuinely dedicated to the exploration of love in its myriad forms do not try to mislead us. Here are some titles this woman should try: Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Great Gatsby, The Shipping News, Jane Eyre, Huckleberry Finn, Les Miserables, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Gone with the Wind, Old Yeller. I could write another fifty titles that are dedicated to love. Now, all these are not about romantic love. Some are about love in its other forms. Nonetheless, the stories told by writers trying to create real art are not made to mislead. (I will not go into scripture or fables here, though they also teach us about love.)
Among the books I know she (and everyone) should be reading are Joyce McCollaum’s The Last Sharecropper, Barbara Corn Patterson’s The Woman on the Table, Ralph Rivera’s Espiritu, MJ Johns’ Destiny Stone, Hedda P. Saltz’s Free Rain, Beverly Coots’ Gabby Care, Kevin McIlvoy’s Fifth Station, and Robert Wilder’s Nickel. None of them ever got a plug on the CBS Morning News.
Look, if you want to know about love, avoid making it just about soft porn or simple-minded meet-cute stories. Love is about suffering and sacrifice, about caring for someone other than yourself. Love is about all the ways in which we attach ourselves to the world, and it can be simple and selfless or it can be complicated and commercial. It begins and ends with the generosity of the lover.