tragic romance is overrated

“My favourites are the old couples who can be found floating in baths all over the world. They look like they come to the baths every day. Often the woman will be built in the manner of a brick house, all pendulous breasts and arms that could sink a battleship. It seems, too, that the husband will, by default, be whippet-thin, though I sincerely doubt he is not fed well at home. They sit solidly together. Sometimes they bicker and raise their hands in an almost comical gesture of frustration. But mostly they don’t need to talk. Their silence is laden with hidden meanings and understanding. It is a private language worn in by years of life and disappointments, and a love that has been weathered and still remained. … That night I go to see a Romeo and Juliet ballet at the Hungarian State Opera House. When Juliet drinks the poison after thinking Romeo is dead, I clutch my chest in horror and magnificent tragedy. But as Juliet sinks gracefully to the floor, her toes perfectly pointed, her face slightly wrinkled with discomfort, I realise exquisite, tragic romance is overrated. What you really want is someone who’ll sit by your side in a public bath day after day, bits akimbo, and love you in their own cranky way.”

From “Where you can soak up lessons in love” by Annie Stevens (SMH online ed; 30 Dec 2011)

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