Monday, February 16, 2009


I suddenly realized–I think this happened when I was on my bicycle near UNC Chapel Hill where the traffic can be rather frisky–that there is a mathematical component to love, specifically, the odds of love's success, just as with chocolate and love there is the chemical component through the dear ol' phenylethylamine phenomenon.*

The mathematical, or perhaps I should say statistical or probability aspect of love is less fun than the chemical one. Here it is:

The probability of falling in love with someone as you grow older are inversely proportional to your age.

Why? Well, in order to fall in love truly, a couple must learn to intuit one another's feelings, and become intimate with their experiences, emotions, histories, life stories, quirks, patterns, and all of that stuff. How many of all such do you have at, say, 18? Well, fewer than you have, once could argue, than when you are, say for the sake of argument, 70.

Falling in love at 18 can therefore be what we call a quick study: a conversation, perhaps two, and bingo! Love is there just like when that guy yells BINGO and you win something that you think that you want. And the couple can sit about and stay in love and watch those little tulips of experience and family and quirks and whatnot grow quite slowly over time, although I am not sure if tulips grow slowly.

In any event, and to take the discussion away from tulips, we can safely say that immersing one's self with someone else at 18 allows a relaxed and patient period of inquiry–say–60 or 70 years. One does not get the bends that way. Or at least it would be a challenge to get the bends that way. And you know when I say 'bends' I don't really mean 'bends' but you know what I mean. Onward:

Let's say that you are 70. I am not, and quite frankly, the idea makes me jittery, but still, well, it certainly does look real to me, and that might be the cause of the jitttery. Let's forget about me and tulips both for a second. Anyway,

Let's say that you are 70. You go on a date, probably at the community center. You meet someone very special. You sit down and talk, and find that you can talk so easily and openly that the time just flies by. Now of course when you are 70 the times flies by anyway, and many other horrible and depressing things happen that don't happen when you are 18 but we'll talk about that later. In any event, for time that just flies by normally, not it is downright rocket shippy flying by. Of course, by 70 in our era, you have seen quite a number of rocket ships, and they scare you very much.

But in many ways, love at 70 is no different than at 18 – you still have to share everything. You simply must. The problem is, there is an awful lot to share, and the sound of the clock on the wall is so loud that sometimes you think somebody is shooting a gun in the kitchen, and at you, a terrible thing to do, and almost as bad to think. Guns scare you very much, too. After all, you are 70. Lots of guns by 70 and you know exactly what they do and that they aren't kidding.

But love scares you no more than it did at 18. Nor does it excite you any less. Or maybe, it's the same amount. And so there you are, at the community center, talking freely and openly and sweetly with someone who just might be the love of your life. And you tell your new love everything – your foibles, your dreams, your loves, your fears, your family, your worries, your passions, your amores, your food preferences, your shoe size, your doctor's home telephone number, your prescriptions, your aching back, your frequency and content of urination, your mother problems from 1942, your poetry.


Now if you were 18 you could do all of this and look up at the clock and say "Look at the time – it's already midnight! How quickly it passes when I am with you."

But at 70, after all of this, you would look up at the clock and say, "My God. We are 97 years old. How quickly the time passes when I am with you."

My God. My God.

My God.

Of course the best case scenario is that you would look up at the clock at 97.

Of course, there are alternate possibilities:

They might not have clocks by the time you are 97; you might not care for clocks at 97; you might have forgotten your glasses in the first place; you might still be talking and not aware of the time at 97; you might never have been taught how to read time; it might be a small, unobtrusive, barely perceptible digital clock on the wall with weak batteries; you might have stopped talking by 97 and might be making furious 97 year old love on that little green ping pong table at the community center, and then, other possibilities which I will leave alone for the time being.

Simply put, fall in love early. Before you are 97. I think it's a good idea. It's hard to argue against it. In fact, I cannot think of a single argument against it. Just think of the alternatives to not falling in love.

Yes: do it now. Or, if that is not possible, try to do it before you get your wisdom teeth, or thereabouts. That seems about right.

*phenylethylamine phenomenon: if you gorge yourself on chocolate, you no longer need to fall in love with someone, because you will simply fall in love, via body chemistry simulation via said phenylethylamine, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc. Keep gorging, though, and you will jolly well die in love, and with no one. Still, as ends go ...

1 comment:

t of Cha said...

"other possibilities which I will leave alone for the time being." -What are these possibilities?

I do hope even when humanity is no more there are still clocks. REAL clocks, not your iPhone timer. (I have never seen an iPhone up close so I really don't know.)

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