Hump Day Crush: Night, In Shining Armor

I don’t know how many of you watched (or remember) Ed.

It was a show about a New York lawyer (Ed, played by Tom Cavanagh) who came home one day to find his wife in bed with the mailman. This being TV, he packed up and moved back to his old home town. Once there he discovered two things. First, that the local bowling alley (his favorite place to hang out growing up) was for sale. Second, that a good bunch of the old gang (including his high school crush) were still in town.

From that point on, as TV shows go, hilarity ensued. He became “the bowling alley lawyer” (that would be a lawyer who works out of a bowling alley) and had no shortage of quirky cases. He fell back into old patters with his old friends (sophomoric humor abounded). Most importantly (at least in the context of this blog), he decided to pursue his high school crush, Carol Vessey (played by Julie Bowen).

Needless to say, I loved this show. Mostly because I could relate to Ed and his young counterpart Warren (played by the Mac… I mean Justin Long) who was still in high school and fumbling his way through the dating world.

Without fail, Ed would come up with some utterly romantic and totally hair-brained scheme to get Carol to notice him. Like most of us, he had grown up on all the romantic notions of knights in shining armor and heroes on horseback, suave Casanovas and leather-clad bad boys.

I bought into that for a long time. In many ways, I still do. Most of us have some sort of typical romantic fantasy–either as the rescuer or rescuee, as the underdog who makes good or the hooker with the heart of gold–that gets our imaginations (and other things) flowing. I’ve got a lot of those running around in my head. Ed, in the course of the four seasons of the show, managed to hit on most of them.

But Ed had something going for him that most of us don’t. He was a character in a prime-time television show. Everyone who’s ever seen anything on TV knew that he would (at least for a little while) get together with Carol. It was scripted and written. It followed the standard rules of entertainment–the same rules that gave us all those romantic notions to begin with.

We’re not characters in a well-scripted TV show. Romance doesn’t always turn out the way we hope (and, in my experience, it rarely even turns out the way we imagine it will–good or bad). We’re not guarantied to get the girl (or the guy). In fact, if you look around honestly, you’re going to fail more often than not.

And yet, we still try.

No matter what, many of us are so steeped in those romantic notions that we act on them. With a show like Ed, we’re reminded of the humor of it all. For a while, we can laugh about it.

But that ability to laugh it off when it goes wrong doesn’t always work.

Failure after failure, some deep-seated negativity builds up and, before long, we can feel like we isolated. Trapped and alone in some cold dark place.

That’s when the true lesson of the show–and of real Love–comes through.

The reason two characters end up falling for one another (in a well-written show, at least) isn’t because one finally convinces the other that they feel the same way about each other. It’s because one realizes that they feel the same way. The distinction may be missed by many, but it is an important one.

There is nothing we can do to convince someone to love us in a romantic way. You can dress up in all the suits of armor and ride as many white horses while carrying a gross of roses, unless there’s that spark deep down inside of them, anything you do get will be transitory at best. Even worse, after the rush of the challenge wears off, it may be you who discovers there’s nothing more there.

So there you are, your romantic notions smashed. Your heart broken. Alone. In the dark. What do you do?

Well, you could wallow and fade away, become bitter and swear off members of the opposite sex forever. But there’s no fun in that at all. Or you could take the time to look back on things–just like you would look at a crush if you were doing it the Grown Up Crush way.

There is only one thing that brings people together for the long run. That thing is Love and it starts deep within you. During those dark and lonely times, it may be hard to remember that. It may seem impossible to give a damn about yourself if no one else seems to. But that’s what you have to do. That’s the flame that will bring the embers of that other certain someone’s heart into full bloom.

Yeah, I still harbor a lot of romantic fantasies. But I know they won’t work with just anyone. I know because, like Ed, I tried more than a few times to make them work. When they didn’t, I ended up in that dark place, but I pulled myself out of it.

I realized that the real truth of it is, no mater how well-polished your armor, it won’t shine in the dark. To get that sparkle, there has to be some light in that night. Where does it come from? It comes from inside you.

That’s what gives the armor its shine, the horse its sheen and the roses their fragrance.

Love and love honestly–starting with yourself–and romance will work itself out.

  • fiferjanis

    If you’re ever curious about the town I grew up in… I grew up in Stuckyville. No, really! They filmed the show in Westfield, NJ, with scenes in Scotch Plains, Cranford, and Mountainside. (I grew up in Scotch Plains officially, but spent most of my non-school hours in Westfield). I grew up going to that Rialto theater downtown and bowling in that bowling alley. 🙂

  • fiferjanis

    If you’re ever curious about the town I grew up in… I grew up in Stuckyville. No, really! They filmed the show in Westfield, NJ, with scenes in Scotch Plains, Cranford, and Mountainside. (I grew up in Scotch Plains officially, but spent most of my non-school hours in Westfield). I grew up going to that Rialto theater downtown and bowling in that bowling alley. 🙂

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