Kent Bernhardt: This thing called love

  • Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013 12:01 a.m.

If love was easy, there would be no country music.

No other state of human existence exposes us more, renders us more vulnerable, and leaves our hearts forever changed in the process than this crazy little thing called love. It is life’s most wonderful and yet most elusive gift.


But listen to me waxing poetic about love. Truth is, love has always been one of my biggest challenges. I’ve often thought I really stink at it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments. I’ve known the joys of being at the right place at the right time with the right person. And like most of you, I’ve felt the sting of the love unreturned or the love that didn’t last.

Like most of my male brethren, my struggle is with love’s finer points.

In fact, I could write a series of books on how I’ve struggled with its finer points.

Some of you seem to have no trouble with love at all. I’ve heard you say things like “We’ve been soul mates since the age of four,” or “We were just made for each other.” Your lives together proceed smoothly as if love was just another trip to the grocery store.

I have news for you. The rest of us secretly hate you. In fact, we want to sneak into your bedroom late at night and pour itching powder in your underwear.

The great majority of us find Cupid’s path strewn with jagged stones. It’s the roller coaster ride that tests us to our very core.

I’ve always thought it a bit unfair that love doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Then again, even if it did, we men wouldn’t read it. We never read manuals.

Most of the mistakes I’ve made along the way have been quite innocent. For example, I had to learn the hard way that the word “fine” is never used to describe a woman’s appearance. When a woman says “How do I look,” the answer should never be “Fine.” And certainly not “Finer than a frog hair, sweetie.”

Fine is how a window sill looks after you paint it, or how YOU look when you finally get your tie straight. It is never how a woman looks.

The only possible exception to this rule is when you’re talking to the woman you love in the style of Barry White.

Then, it’s OK to say things like “Ooohh baby, baby....you’re so fine, baby, baby. Baby, baby....so fine, so fine, baby, baby.”

Please note that when exercising the Barry White manoeuvre, there must be at least four “baby baby’s” for every “fine.” One other tip; men with high pitched voices should never attempt the Barry White move.

I’ve also had to learn the hard way that men and women communicate differently.

When a man says “I think I’ll watch the Carolina game on TV”, all other men hear “I think I’ll watch the Carolina game on TV.”

What a woman just heard, however, is something totally different. She just heard “I think, instead of cleaning the garage that my wife asked me to clean five months ago, I’ll immerse myself in yet another petty sports distraction.”

Our powers of recollection differ greatly as well. A man can forget something he said almost as soon as the words leave his lips. A woman can store a man’s complete sentences almost indefinitely, and pull them out for future recitals.

My first love was the least complicated love of my life. Her name was Darlene. We had a very simple relationship. I was desperately in love with her and she didn’t know I was alive. Part of the reason for this is she was in high school and I was six.

Still, even at such an early age I remember the joy that filled my heart when I imagined sitting close to her and perhaps even stealing a kiss. But who was I kidding. Though I chased her for the better part of a summer, I would’ve had no idea what to do with her if I caught her. In fact, I suffer from that affliction today.

In my quest for love, I’ve been lied to, cheated on and kicked to the curb. Come to think of it, that would make a great title for a country song.

Did you know that four-fifths of all country songs are “somebody done somebody wrong” songs? The other fifth are songs about the fifth you consume after somebody done you wrong.

The king of all heartbreak songs, in my opinion, would be “Goodbye to Love” by the Carpenters. Get these words:

“All the years of useless search have finally reached an end Loneliness and empty days will be my only friend

From this day love is forgotten, I’ll go on as best I can”

Man, whoever wrote that got hit by all eighteen wheels of the love truck.”

So as Cupid prepares yet another assault this Valentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with the love quote that seems to make the most sense to me:

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.” - Robert Fulghum

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.

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