Before I dig into this, I would like to open with a disclaimer; nothing below is intended to reflect my opinion of real life relationships, past, present or future. It might reflect my trends in reading material or the fact that I’m very much in the southern hemisphere of a depressive episode. Or it could just be because I’m crazy.
But if you really think about it, isn’t the best ending for a relationship the death of one of the partners?
I hear some people screaming out there. But bear with me a moment.
In the fictional world, there are three perfect relationships. There’s the Prince Charming, happily-ever-after. Which people daydream about and possibly obsess over, but which we all know isn’t real. Sometimes that knowledge taints it, rots the image from the inside out, because we unconsciously rebel against it, knowing nothing is ever actually perfect. Westley and Buttercup either had a ton of fights that we weren’t aware of, or they grew apart with Westley lurking in a back room of their mansion penning his memoirs while Buttercup was off playing Dread Pirate with Inigo or something. Belle and the Beast (and yes, I’m aware he has an actual name, I just forget it and think it’s mostly irrelevant) realized they had nothing in common except Stockholm Syndrome, after which he took up painting and she started spending a little too much time in spare bedrooms with Lumiere. Sure, we’re happier if we just pause and say it’s all good at “on his white horse they rode away” or “Oh, hey, I’m human… But I still looked better as a beast…” But we acknowledge it’s essentially unrealistic.
Then there’s the “perfectly awful” relationships. Joker and Harley. Mickey and Mallory. People who are so genuinely fucked up and broken that only someone equally messed up can possibly begin to understand them or tolerate their presence for long. We tend to romanticize this, make it a shining castle of acceptance and compatibility, but really it usually boils down to an abused/abuser scenario, or to a pair of sociopaths who like to pretend they’re not alone and can tolerate the presence of someone else for short periods. That’s not exactly a hot ticket, if you’re asking me.
Then there’s the third one. Where the husband/wife died – generally young and fairly early in the relationship. That leaves the living partner with a pile of memories, which through the magic of grief and attachment, gain a coat of gold paint that conceals the downsides, even assuming they had been together long enough to find them. The deceased partner becomes a legendary icon of what could have been, a magical yardstick to hold any future prospective mates against and find them wanting. There’s no time to fall into complacency, regret, resentment; there’s only that period where they have come straight from the Heaven of your chosing to please you. It’s a perfection we can believe because it can involve “normal” people, rather than psychos and criminals, and because the ending is present without it being the fault of one party or the other in a destructive way. There’s no happily ever after that we reject, and the idealization is considered normal and natural.
Yeah, I’m probably crazy. But I still am wondering if I need to kill off some characters. The endings of the mystery manuscript and Lune de Amant are both now in question from where I originally concieved them. We’ll see where it goes.
My bed is calling, I think. Your thoughts are welcome, as always, in the box below.