As talking apes, we handle the matter of urgent mating in a way quite different from our hairier cousins. For us musing humans, loving someone seems to be equal parts artifice and fascination.
We love someone, first, not for who they are, but for whom we make them out to be through the mists of dim recognition–across the roomful of phony fog and the pulsing rainbows of the disco ball. This fascination, combined with the artifice of who they present themselves to be, is just the initial sauce of the gourmand’s smorgasbord of attraction and affection we term “love.”
And where the imagination latches its mollusk, it secretes its magic–transforming the rottenest rowboat into Cleopatra’s bejeweled barge.
The courtship between two adult humans contains, on average, one million words–roughly 100,000 more words than Shakespeare’s complete plays. This is the titanic effort that the imagination brings to bed with us. And from this art, we weave the dreams of our sexual lives, our tenderest expressions of affection. And, indeed, we weave our own families.
How we imagine love is important. To be raw, to be vulnerable, to weave our dreams of love in utter nakedness, is important. It’s what we talking apes do. We do it incessantly and, in all the animal kingdom, we do it with an artifice and fascination compounded mainly of words.
This human intrusion of the heart and cock into one’s interpersonal affairs can be awkward, embarrassing, and nearly impossible to winningly negotiate.