One of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons is when Bugs is being chased by an ugly witch intent on turning him into a rabbit stew. Of course he outwits her. He’s Bugs. But at the end, she changes from the crone to a seductive, curvaceous bunny.
Bugs is smitten. He immediately offers his arm. As he walks off into the Looney Tune sunset with his lady, he turns back to the audience and says, "Ah sure, I know. But aren't they all witches inside?"
Actually, like Bugs, witches, goblins, and spooks don’t bother me. I have an alarm system against Jason and that guy with the chainsaw. Vampires are silly with their nocturnal nonsense and, in my mind, Zombies stay in their graves and even if they didn’t, what is there to fear from creatures who eat brains?
But I will confess what really scares me—dating . . . which is ironic since I make my living writing about people falling in love. You know, the torrid covers, the happy endings, the pages and pages of fun interplay between the sexes. Well, let me tell you, there is a big disconnect between falling in love and the necessary ritual of actually going out and spending time with people over whom I have no control. Real people.
Oh, I see the advantages to dating. Dating is a necessary evil. It leads to love. Not the amorphous, let’s all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” to save the world kind of love. Not the love of pets and ideas and all good things that make life sweet sort of love. But the kind of love that is rare, that is wondrous, that is brilliant—the love that makes life suddenly worth living. The sort of love that is based upon commitment and a zillion other promises that will be broken or not depending on the vagaries of life. The love that is at the heart of every book I write.
But it can be painful to reach that point.
I’ll talk to a 15-year-old and a 50-year-old and the challenges of dating are the same for both. There is no learning curve. The awkwardness is still there and always will be. People lie, or they don’t, and it may take several dates to ferret out the truth. The blow hard will always be the blowhard whether he or she is 28 or 80. Guys only have one thing on their mind, and so do gals (Actually, this isn’t a bad thing.) Maturity continues to not be valued. The same is true for a “great personality” or “nice eyes.”
And the excuses haven’t changed much either. “I’m busy” means anything from “I truly have something to do,” to “Do not call me, ever.”
I was always puzzled why the teenager in the movies went out into the night, especially after hearing the buzz of the chainsaw. What compels a person to take that one step too far toward hair-raising disaster? Why move from the light into the dark of unknown?
There can only be one answer: it is the hope that this time it will be different. We want to believe the best in ourselves and ghouls. Not only is there safety on the other side of the abyss, there is a life that may be far better than what we are living now. Perhaps taking a risk, putting ourselves out there, coupling off, is just part of our DNA.
Will the mating dance ever change? Sure, when sequels to horror movies come to an end, which means never.
And that leaves me with only direction to follow--go out into the night.
So, if you will excuse me, I’m going to wrap a garland of garlic around my neck, grab a few stakes, and head out the door for a coffee “meet.”
Maybe this time will be different . . .
Cathy Maxwell is a former US Navy officer and New York Times best-selling author of over thirty Avon/HarperCollins romances. For more information on Maxwell and her books go to www.cathymaxwell.com.