By Matt Gordon
Romance is dead. Is Nicholas Sparks even out there? In times past we were like Romeo and Juliet—sweet, innocent, breaking down barriers for tender kiss. We were young kids, committing murder and double suicide for love’s sake.
Nowadays, forget murder. We calmly go through the motions, a gentle caress here; a nice word there.
It makes me sick.
But I guess I should go back a bit for the sake of the reader. Recently, my wife and I had sexual intercourse. I know this to be true because my wife is with child and there has been no angelic appearance as of yet. Some, like my family, may balk at this admission—TMI they will say. To which I will counter, “Use words, dummy.” But who are we fooling with all of our puritanical niceties? Even with the belly-growth, there is nothing for an expecting couple to hide behind. With pregnancy, a naked truth has come to light.
Now, once a woman is pregnant, there begins this made-up phase called “nesting.” I think it probably began as a marketing ploy of sorts. What happens during this phase—which tends to occur immediately after intimacy and lasts until the child turns three or so—is the woman has you move all of the furniture until your back gives out. Then, once you’ve taken a thirty second or so break, she has you move it all back again. You do this until your recently acquired back brace prohibits it, and then your wife, bless her, fulfills the purpose of the great furniture shift: buying new things to wedge between your old things. It is a joyous time for you both—her dreaming and ordering and declaring, and you, sweating, taking a second job, lumbering, and aging tenfold.
This is just the start of the nesting delusion. All manner of things will need to be updated, relocated, allocated, levitated, separated, decorated, and bodily dislocated before the baby arrives or turns one or ten or heads off to gap year. It is a long process.
Where I am in the process is this. I returned home from one of my jobs the other day and walked stealthily to the bedroom, hoping not to be detected by the matronly radar that radiates our blissful abode. I hoped to wedge myself under the bed to avoid detection, but I didn’t make it past the entryway without noticing the most subtle of hints. The walls were spackled and sanded, and there on the dresser was a brush, roller, and fresh can of paint. It was clear in that moment that my wife wanted, nay needed, something. But I just couldn’t put my finger on what it could be, and then it hit me! A fresh start! That was it. The baseball season had come to the All Star break and the second half of the season was getting ready to kick up. Surely all this handiwork was my wife’s tedious way of telling me, “Buy yourself a ticket and head down to the ballpark!” At this moment, I still felt love’s radiating pulse.
I sat on the bed, took out my phone, and began perusing the secondary market for tickets, when she entered the room. “Well?” she beamed.
“Very well! Thank you! I appreciate you using this abstract way of blessing me. It will be a great time!”
“Oh, thanks for understanding!” she threw her arms around me, like a net almost. “I thought once you are done painting our bedroom, we can get going on the basement, and then consider touching up the boys’ room.”
I closed my phone, and the dream with it. The closest I got to the game was moving a small TV into the room to accompany me in my toil.
My wife helped me out, taking turns rolling and generally keeping things moving and ordered. With her pregnant condition we decided we would save the wall behind the bed until we could get help over on Sunday. As we got near this unfinished wall, she excused herself from the room to shower and clean up for bed. And there alone with roller and thoughts, I saw the perfect opportunity for love to be made once more.
I scurried to the bed and decided, in romantic fervor, to paint a mural of sorts—an abstract expression of my heart for my wife, fair Juliet. Speed was of the essence, for I wanted the gesture to be a surprise, like our engagement, or her 30th birthday gift, or any subsequent children we might have. The muse took over and, moments later, I finished, reentered my quavering body, and stepped back to admire my art, our art.
It was glorious. Wonderful. It was feeling and emotion and desire. I’m no artist—at least I wasn’t—but for a single moment emotion and divinity and intellect synthesized within and flowed without. I had, there in our bedroom, created beauty. It was a masterpiece.
Upon seeing it, my wife rolled her eyes, as I finished rolling the room. “My brother is going to see that on Sunday!”
And that was it! No swoon. No passion. No admiration. No love. Romance is dead.
I finished what was left of the room. Before leaving and turning out the light—on life and love and romance for good—I paused to pay witness once more to the final flailing attempt at rekindling sweet romance. I thought about the two kids I have and the one on the way. The sleepless nights and age of body, of soul. I thought of my excitement for the rest of the evening—watching the final few innings of a baseball game and likely snoozing on the couch. I thought of waking and the new nesting tomorrow would bring. I sighed, without relief, and hoped that one day my art might make a difference. That one day fair Romeo and Juliet would once more sip poison together and slip off into a world of sultry seduction. But mostly, I just thought about sex.