Call me a curmudgeon. I can tell you a thing or two about love - it does not exist. My name is Gargas Smith, and I will tell you about this thing that does not exist.
Take mother-love, for example. I call it smother love. Throughout my childhood and well along in my teen years, I existed so close to the woman that gave me birth, that I felt overwhelming anxiety - so much that I believed that if I was not close, any number of horrors would befall me. She stifled me. She cut my toenails. She washed my hair. She invented warped stories about my friends that caused me to end those friendships. I was hers alone.
I have no experience of father-love, unless I count our winter picnics in Montana. We ate hot dogs we roasted on sticks and drank coffee from a Mason jar.
What is romantic love? When I went to school, I crushed on the opposite sex, but was noticed by no one. As a young adult, I met Arlie at a summer wedding when she was inebriated and free with her affections. I dated her for four months. Soon, I became attached to the idea of us as a couple. Then, the night we watched the first moon landing, she said her final 'good-bye' to me.
"At university," she said, "there are other guys. Take care."
I hadn't even realized that it was 'Good-bye, Gargas." I didn't get it. I thought that she had told me that she dated a number of people, and I was agreeable because it was the logical thing to do - we were young; there was much to do before becomingh an exclusive couple. But when she ignored my phone calls, and when she never called me again, I felt a painful hole grow in my heart.
Six months later, my next 'love' interest was Ali Khan, my boss at the library. He was a strict man, a misogynist, who expected complete obedience, loyalty, and worship from the person who loved him. Little did I realize that I had been primed by my childhood and youth to relate to people like him. All I wanted was to make him happy; I knew that I could be perfect, obedient and loyal. I believed that I was the only person that could be what he wanted me to be.
We had worked together for a couple years, so I figured that I knew Ali quite well. After I declared my love to him, we dated - for two months. Then we moved in together. We had a small ceremony to share our happiness with our friends. No family was present, for his relations lived overseas in Pakistan, and my mother and family disowned me for sharing my life with a gay, non-Christian, 'black' person.
Yes, my mother disowned me. How can a mother disown her own offspring? Where is the love in this? This again, is an example of smother-love. "I will disown you if you shack up with him," my mother said. "It's either him or me."
So I began my committed relationship with Ali. Our troubles began at once.
"I forbid you to see your friends," he ordered. "I want you to be beside me all the time: when I'm fixing the basement, mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage." This was smother wearing new clothing.
While I called my partner "Buddy", his nick-name for me was "Dumb-Dumb". Other names he called me were "Bitch" and "Prostitute".
I became disobedient: I called or visited my friends when Ali went to library conferences in other states. He refused to take me with him, so I rebelled by entertaining myself - innocently. I invited friends to dinner, traditional married couples that we both knew.
Time passed, and I learned aboutmy partner's formidable temper. I also coped with his jealousy and his major trust issues.
"You take the bus to work because you want other men to see you, pay attention to you," he ranted irrationally.
And then he beat me up. What has love got to do with violence?
I left my abusive relationship with Ali and moved to Seattle. Here I learned about plain sexual love, to alleviate loneliness and release tension. At the beach I met men and women who shared my needs. Sometimes a 'relationship' lasted as long as theree months. Often the 'love' lasted for only a night.
Call me cynical. There is no love.