A pensive moment

Even Verdell goes for the Bad Boy.

During a sporadic mid-90s romantic comedy spree, I was rewatching As Good As It Gets the other day, and I was reminded of how wonderful a film I thought it was when watching it the first time, from the writing to the acting to, well, the dog. I felt equally as approving of the movie the second go-around, although I feel that my understanding of different elements, as can be expected, had definitively changed. For instance, as a child, I had always harbored an impulsive, wholehearted sympathy for the protagonist, and couldn’t stop myself from hating the restaurant manager for shouting Melvin Udall out of his go-to eatery even after he had made an ass of himself to Elephant Girl. I even couldn’t help but want Carol to accept Melvin — for all his self-absorbedness and his idiosyncracies and (albeit not always intentional) malice — into her life. This time, all I could think were all the red flags revealing themselves every step of the way to their final union at the end and how this relationship wouldn’t have a chance in hell of working out for much longer than an hour. But then again, I guess that’s sort of what the narrative is all about — enjoy life — for all its shitty moments  — while you can.

Then and now, though, there’s always been one line that’s always stuck with me, and that’s when Melvin (having promised Carol a compliment after dismissing her dinner outfit as a common house dress) sits down, and, promising something good, takes a deep breath, and says: “You make me want to be better man.”

For a long time (and from experience), I’ve been telling myself and anyone who’ll listen that no one can really change anyone.

So it’s “ironic” then, or maybe just a cruel twist of fate or play by God, that that desire to change someone — not even necessarily for the better — is often what draws two people together in the first place, whether one is the person wanting to change the other (more common, it seems), or one person is wanting to be changed. I think this is what makes “bad boys” so seductive to girls — a (foolhardy) desire to be the one special girl to melt his heart and change his ways. This, of course, is a common theme of Korean dramas, where female protagonists almost without fail opt for the irrational, eruptive and often abusive (yet drop dead gorgeous) bad boy over the kind, thoughtful, and subtle (often equally drop dead gorgeous) nice guy. Korean women are idiots.

Maybe I’m just old, but here’s my piece: Digging for that tiny sliver of romanticism left in a man is overrated.

However, I will add that I also believe if you’re lucky enough to find that person who, while won’t necessarily be changed by you, is at least willing to try to be changed by you (of course, it’s a given that you shouldn’t go into a relationship expecting to change the person you’re making this commitment to) — well, then maybe — just maybe — they really are the one. Sort of like Melvin… right?

Just my two cents.


5 thoughts on “A pensive moment

  1. ah.. the good old debate between good guy vs. bad guy. yes, the bad guy is more exciting when you’re younger. but let’s see what else we enjoyed in the younger days, binge drinking, late night partying, excessive credit card use, junk food binges, speeding on the highway, drinking late with friends on weekdays. not the best judgement i suppose. i think girls find bad boys more appealing than good boys because a bad boy who is good to you is being good to you because he wants to. whereas a good guy is good to you because he’s always good. so how do you know if he really wanted to do this for you, or he’s just doing it because it’s his character? it seems more “genuine” for a bad boy to do nice things for you b/c it’s not in his nature. also.. i noticed a guy is labeled “good” when there are no other outstanding/amazing characteristics. for example, if you met a guy who was rich & good, or hilarious & good, or amazingly handsome & good. what would you call them? probably the rich guy, hilarious guy, or handsome guy (respectively). not the “good” guy.

    anyway, i wholeheartedly agree with this post. and i think most older women (late 20’s early 30’s) realize this and stop anazlying guys for this & that — but take them for who they are. good, or bad.

    • damn, ss, looks like you were having a crazy youth! keeding. i feel you on the lack of judgment in our younger days, and i’m with you on your final conclusion that “love” when we’re “older” seems to become less about finding mr. perfect (or more often, i suppose, molding mr. perfect) than about “settling” (i fully acknowledge this is an interpretation of what you actually said). i agree and disagree, on the grounds that, yes, i feel that i’m less impatient with and more willing to accept flaws, on the grounds that i know everyone has ’em, and as long as they’re not that bad, they’re not that bad. but i cringe to think that being older means being content with just finding someone who’s just suitable enough (again, my interpretation). it’s sort of that thinking (at least, it’s something i think about sometimes) about youth (which i’m immensely guilty of) that we young (ignorant, callous whipper-snappers) think that we can decide course of life for our older, wiser selves, and that we likewise get first dibs on the covetables of life (i guess this is somewhat true given that, at least in “love,” the pool of eligible candidates dwindles exponentially with age) — whereas being “old” seems all about just getting by. maybe that’s a crude summary of life. i guess the point is that, i’d like to believe that we end up with the person we end up with not because they’re “good enough,” or because the “timing seems right” in terms of the age to settle down/get married/whatever, or because we’re just plain tired of looking — but because we’ve really searched as hard as we could and found someone we really believe sums it all up.

      p.s. i thought your definition of the good guy was hilarious (“there’s the rich guy, the funny guy, the hot guy, but good guy is just good”). i started writing this long spiel about something else your comment made me think of, but it got too… well, long. methinks i shall just make it into a separate post!

      • i didn’t meant to imply settling at all! just that your tastes change (for the better). in my younger days, unpredictable bad boys you wanted to change might be exciting. whereas if i meet a guy now who can’t commit and still finds clubbing fun i’ll def be rolling my eyes and thinking they’re pathetic.

        maybe i’m a romantic — but yes, i hope that marriage is with someone where you’ve found someone who sums it all up… =)

  2. i realize now i probably made it sound as if my extrapolating about your statements were my interpretations of what you were thinking — which i assure you wasn’t the case at all! i guess i just wonder sometimes whether changing tastes is an actual reflection of better judgment or simply a syndrome of lowered standards resulting from repeat disappointments in the past. i’m definitely with you on the liberal judging of self-proclaimed “commitment phobes” tho.

    look for a followup post to this one tomorrow!

  3. Pingback: A pensive moment followup « Love Games, or the Lack Thereof

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