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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/1/10

Valentine's Day: Great Expectations

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So, I'm not exactly dating material (that would be a polyester blend of some sort with sequins that eventually snag and fall off), and I was definitely not cut from a cloth that fits neatly into a pattern of relationships with the hope of getting married and having children. I'm kind of a size 0 when it comes to being the perfect woman for any man. I'm a tight fit with little room for error; I am hand stitched, after all.

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, my stomach is already starting to turn from the saccharine injected ads that implore you to express your love with diamonds. Diamonds are not my best friends. My best friends have names. We dangle carrots.

There's a part of me that wishes there could be some brilliant scene in a movie where a father and son are fishing at a peaceful lake, probably somewhere on the coast of Maine. The nine-year old kid is still beaming over a big old trout that he's just caught (but you don't see because the animal rights activists had that spliced from the film so no one gets traumatized.) And the boy can barely contain himself for having accomplished this feat without the help of his dad. The father is divorced or a widower and in between nibbles and near misses, is answering his son's questions about women and dating and the mother he never really knew, blah, blah, blah.

Suddenly, as Hollywood would have it, there is the fish of a lifetime, and father and son together as one, spend the next minutes wrestling with and pulling at some ugly carp that just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, (not unlike Sarah Palin; except the poor fish has no other agenda but to survive and certainly no intention of running for anything but dear life). You know as well as I do that the carp is stronger than they are and father and son are going to lose the battle as they fall on their behinds after giving up the good fight. There is no concession speech. Instead, Hollywood brilliantly spins what even Washington cannot.

In one of those pivotal and poignant moments under the setting autumnal sun, dad rustles the head of his boy and (as the camera pans ever closer) says, "You know Bradley," (or Jordan or whatever the name du jour happens to be in LA for the moment), "you'll always remember the big fish you caught today, won't you?" And the boy with the big soulful eyes and perfect haircut will nod his head in agreement, sure that his dad isn't done talking yet (or otherwise the movie would be over and then there would be no point to the film.) The light will then capture the father in a way that will cause a lump to appear in your throat before he says another word (and the music will help it get there if it doesn't arrive on its own). And then the father will say, "But you know what's so funny about life?" (The boy will shake his head "no "during this extended pregnant pause so that everyone in the audience understands that the next line is REALLY important to the whole picture and they should stop chewing and listen to what comes next or they'll be asking for a refund).

Then the father will say, "You'll NEVER forget the one who got away."
In the old days, he would repeat this line just in case somebody didn't catch it the first time around or missed the significance of it. But today's audiences are not as hearing impaired in the theatre as they are in real life. Deep inside ourselves, we all know that what the man is saying is true.

We always remember (even fondly) what we have known, but we never forget the fish that got away.

I'm sure Celine Dion will sing the theme song and some hunk like George Clooney will get the lead. Just from that one line alone, Academy Award will be buzzing from collagen injected lips and, if it wouldn't be illegal to use the title of an old movie in a new one, I would call it "The Way We Were Not", because "The Fish that Got Away" just doesn't have any of the right stuff that love stories and romantic notions are made of.

Perhaps, neither do I. In case you're wondering though, I do love chocolate. And I don't need Valentine's Day or romance to satisfy that craving.
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Patricia A. Smith is a writer and artist (and sometimes both at the same time). A former columnist, restaurant critic and cruise line executive, Smith has lived in London, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Egypt, Costa Rica and France. She returned (more...)
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