Some couples are cute, while others are curious, and if you look around the next time you’re in public, the tables of two will teach you that there are no laws of attraction. A girl who could be in an Herbal Essences commercial goes out to dinner with a balding man, or a man who looks like he must duck his head to enter his house is married to a woman who might easily crawl in through the doggy door. When it comes to attraction, anything goes, but what about love?
I was never a Backstreet Boys fan. I didn’t go to their concert when I was in seventh grade, and I don’t have a single one of their songs on my iPod. Nevertheless, I hung out with the girls on our side of the gymnasium at middle school dances enough times to know their lyrics and the music video dance moves to go with them.
In sixth grade, when the concept of love was as distant as the boys who congregated on the opposite side of the gym, the lyrics to “As Long As You Love Me” made sense. With enthusiasm, we sang “I don’t care who you are / Where you’re from / What you did / As long as you love me.”
What a ridiculous song.
If the people we love were other than they are, we would not love them. It doesn’t make sense to say we do not care. Oftentimes, people love who and what they love without being able to render the causes of their feelings into coherent explanations. Perhaps the reasons why we love do not matter. Nevertheless, it’s each individual ingredient that makes a Dove Bar a Dove Bar, and if one or more is substituted for something else, we end up eating a far too sweet Hershey bar instead. When we love people, we love their ingredients precisely measured. We love who they are, where they’re from, and what they do, for who are people if not the thoughts they think and the actions they take? What is there to love in someone except that which we foremost respect?
Understandably, though Backstreet Boys’ lyrics are taken to heart by 10-year-old girls, they’re not meant to be taken to soul by anyone. They are supposed to be simply sung, not analyzed nor condemned; they’re not worth the criticism. But if the Backstreet Boys can sing lyrics about not caring who a person is or what he or she does – the most essential reasons for loving someone – is it possible that there are people in relationships who have actually deluded themselves into considering the personal ingredients of thoughts and actions dispensable formalities, insignificant enough to be overlooked if unsatisfactory? Are standards really that low?
As we enter our 20s, I should hope we would all be more apt to fasten on the hot pink velvet overalls I wore in sixth grade than to obliterate any and all standards we might have by living our love lives in accordance with the Backstreet Boys’ lyrics. We’re not in sixth grade anymore, standing on opposite sides of streamer-strewn gymnasiums, in love with the glorious future possibility of being in love. Now, the future possibility is that we will end up singing Backstreet Boys’ songs to ourselves if we settle for being enchanted by fantastic ideas, rather than particular and special people and fool ourselves into thinking that as long as there is someone – anyone – with us, we don’t care about what fundamentally matters most – who we are, where we’re from and what we do.
Georgie Hunt is a junior English major from Pomfret, Conn. She can be reached at [email protected]