Thursday, September 13, 2012

Oh! these timeless riddles of the heart ... What begets the Cinderella her lost glass slipper with a bonus Price Charming appended to it? What melts a women's heart like heavy lead guitar melts faces?

Remember imposition in school? You know, the thing your teacher used to demand that you write it down 50 or 100 times back-to-back so that you would remember it well ? I always got imposition in school because I was bad at remembering stuff. I was so horrible at retention that I got imposition in every subject every day - languages, history, geography, general science ... so on. One time, I got imposition by a math teacher. How weird is that? I was asked to solve the same problem 50 times - like I was supposed to memorize the steps and that would make me better at mathematics. It was my first exposure to red tape. Imposition can be a real bitch sometimes. It was like Value Added Tax (VAT) system where the government collects tax not just from the customer but everyone in the supply chain. Similarly, I was levied punishment each time I was found lacking the same skill of good memory. I always used to feel that I badly needed a lawyer who could argue that you cannot be punished twice for the same crime. As a child who didn't have five rupees to buy a rubber ball for street cricket, carrying my own lawyer in my back-pocket was real luxury. Besides, I never cared about school that much. But even when I was growing I had a hunch that not being able to remember is not really my fault because children are always innocent and should never be blamed for anything. That's what my grandmother used to say and I liked that line of reasoning as it sounded like truth. But when Michael Jackson said it, someone sued him. Life is weird. Anyway, the whole assumption behind imposition is that practice and experience makes you good at stuff - a reasonable assumption, that one. That's the most popular reason why successful people think they are successful - because they executed a more self-inflicted version of imposition. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book ("The Outliers") in which he argues that 10000 hours of doing anything will make you an expert. Experts are recruited in each job posting all around the world based on the same criteria - your skill and experience. 

Now to my core premise. I don't think the economy is doing well in filling up the job-positions of these so-called "relationship counselors". You know, these Dr. Phil types, those self-anointed "experts" out on the street giving advice to young people on finding love, marrying the right person and making it work. Do you ever take a good look at one of those people ? They are all middle-aged people happily married for over two decades with successful kids. I simply cannot fathom why exactly are these people right for dispensing their two cents on relationships? And why are you single, lonely heart club members going to these people for advice? What in their background makes you think they are good at relationship advice?  I know ... I know how your normal brains will answer that question:

"Oh ... well ... they must know the secret for these people have been married and in love for more than 5 election cycles with the same person."

Exactly. That's the problem, right there. Where is the practice? Where is the experience? They have been only with a single person. That is precisely what doesn't make them an expert. They are happily married. They are one-hit wonders. They just knew one person the best. That makes them an expert in that person not the whole gender. Speaking of being an expert in a single soul, oooh ... my evil mind just conjured up a quirky movie plot: "A guy befriends the 20-year husband of the woman he's infatuated with to learn better on what makes her tick". I think it'll run well in western Europe - those Europeans can be very sophisticated in their tastes. Anyway, are you still surprised that all these old uncles and aunties on TV and radio keep saying is how we "need to patiently wait, lose some battles to win the war for it takes a life-time to understand another whole physical person because after all, love is an unusually long magic trick that lasts a lifetime" and make us wonder how they managed to fit "war" and "love" in the same sentence ?

Picture Courtesy: link

If the logic of imposition has taught us anything, if history has imparted any wisdom, it is that making mistakes and gaining experience is the only (empirical) way to be good at anything. Therefore, objectively speaking, serial-romantics who have had scores of fly-by-night relationships, tons of meaningless affairs ought to make better "relationship experts" statistically speaking. After all, they have more practice. They have more "experience" - the all-essential keyword in the resume that will get you most jobs. It seems to me, the more affairs, the merrier. These cows grazed the greener grass on the other side more than the nicer cows. Chances are they have a good theory on what works and what doesn't - because they willingly screw up a lot. So, according to me, you cannot really call yourself a "relationship expert" unless you have been in many of them and have considerable hands-on experience in all the stages of initiating, courting, stabilizing and destroying them - a trait that is only available to the shallow and the deceitful. In theory, going to one of those loose-types would totally work. Unless you are the type that gets turned on by infidelity. In such a case, you have what computer scientists call a "stack over-flow" error or what normal people like us call a "catch-22" or  a "vicious cycle" situation. Hey, that's a good movie plot too - "A young lady has trouble finding love as she tends to always fall for the philandering type" - one more for the European cinema. That's two movie ideas ... Damn it, I am killin' it. You know? Some days, I wonder if I undersold myself by becoming a scientist. May be, I could pull off some grade-A quality stuff in the "trash romance" genre.

So, I argue that a person with a lot of relationship history is, on average, better qualified to de-construct, analyze and offer advice on relationships (assume that they are sincere to their clients). In fact, habitual adultery sounds like a basic requirement to me. Just think about it. I am fighting for a little meritocracy here, that's all. Make no mistake. An unfaithful hanky-panky is your "go-to" destination, the all-inclusive one-stop shop for all your relationship counseling needs.

Alas, it's never going to happen. No one wants to take advice from a character-less imperfect weasel who can't be trusted with another person. After all, we have to approve of his character. It's not enough that he has the expertise and can give good advice. We have to like him as a person. We have too much expectations from other people especially if they want to do us a service. Don't you think so? This happens all the time in politics too. It's not enough that we elect the politician or a statesman with good intentions and good ability. We need to elect a person we connect with, whose comes from a good family, who shares our values, whom we can sit down and have a beer with. So, we start applying these criteria and filters and weed out most of the good options before we select some mis-fit.  No wonder, the countries are crumbling; democracy is a failed experiment and we will never understand the secret of relationships.

You know? Sometimes I wonder if relationship happiness is something like suicide. I know, the resemblance is uncanny but hear me out. If a guy is good at suicide, he is goddamn dead. He can't teach you anything. If you want to know about suicide, ask the guy who tried it a lot but in the end sucks at it. He might have value-addition to your intentions. Same thing with being in love. Once you are in, you (really deep deep down) have no clue how it is to be not in it. That's the best part. So ... :)


Twilight Musings said...

I agree with you 100% on it. I would surely take advice from persons with lots of relationships than one-trick wonders.

One thing to keep in mind about philanderers is that you should find ones who are no longer in the game. Otherwise, how can you be sure that they are not angling for *your* prey?
That is the key problem about asking advice from regular adulterers. You never know when you switch from their student to their competition.

Both of your movie ideas have already produced tons of such mind-numbing "entertainment" in fiction and real life. They still remain profitable though with each new cycle of young women.

Sash! said...

I KNEW those are trite movie ideas ... in that case, i better stick to my job ... :)

Ramya V said...

Hi Sash! Twilight Musings brought me here.

If a guy is good at suicide, he is goddamn dead. He can't teach you anything - *Right there* I fell for your idea, almost :P

Sash! said...

@Ramya: Thank you, Thank you :)

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