Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Grand Gesture

Grand gestures are largely missing in our lives these days. No one wants to put themselves out there to that extent and risk, what, rejection? Failure? Response? Probably all of the above.

Probably most of us live so much in an imagined future that we can't muster the guts for a grand gesture -- even if that future is one minute from when we've pondered the grand gesture. You know those moments I mean. You know what you think about doing in those moments, if you could just eradicate the fear that the person won't respond how you want them to -- or, worse, that they will. Because, let's face it, we fear success as much as we fear failure. I don't know why. Perhaps because success sets up another -- deeper -- level of possible failure.

In case you don't know what sorts of things I'm speaking of, here are some pop culture/real life Grand Gestures:

- John Cusack and his boom box in Say Anything. (Sure, it's now cliche, but you can't deny it basically defines the term.)

- Adrian Brody and Halle Berry at the Oscars. (Okay, it bordered on sexual harassment, but in such a grand way.)

- Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch to signify his love for Katie. (The Urban Dictionary has now defined that very move as a way of expressing insanity, as in "I couldn't believe Smith ripped off all his clothes and licked Mike's eyeballs in the meeting today. He's really jumped the couch." But is there any mistaking the grandiosity of the gesture?)

- My grandfather proposing to my grandmother the day he met her. (She made him re-propose a month later before she said yes. They were married almost 60 years before she passed.)

To be fair, out of the four grand gestures I chose as examples, we wouldn't really want the outcomes brought about by all of them, or even most. But that's what makes a grand gesture Grand -- you might fail. But if you're going to fail, why not go down in flames? Def Leppard said it best: It's better to burn out than fade away.

Yes, that's right. I just quoted Def Leppard.

And if you don't fail? What about that? What if you get something more grand in the end than your Grand Gesture could ever hope to be?

Think about that for a while.

One last thought: Consider that what may seem small to you can seem extraordinarily grand to the person on the other end. Three of my friends today asked about test results I am waiting on (results that I am, honestly, quite worried/stressed about). They might not have thought much about remembering to ask. But the fact that they did meant everything to me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone ever miss/overlook those grand gestures when they are the ones receiving them? I think maybe so...

As much as I like GRAND gestures - I pride myself on my sense of urgency to make the world a better place by offering random acts of kindness to strangers. I try to do this daily.

"both my parents taught me about good will and I have done well by their names

just the kindness I've lavished on strangers - is more than I can explain

still there's many who've turned out their porch lights

just so I would think they were not home...and hid in the dark of their windows

'til I'd passed and left them alone"

Ani DeFranco

2:59 AM  
Blogger pamela said...

Two things:
1) Yes, often grand gestures do go unnoticed (unless they really fit the bill of grand: a passionate kiss as an elevator travels floors, for example, can't be missed). So maybe the gesture isn't grand enough.
2) The gesture falls in the gray area of grand -- and the person maybe does recognize it as at least being a gesture (whether grand or not, who can say) -- but... the recipient isn't receptive. It's not unnoticed, just not received...

10:40 PM  
Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

The problem with grand gestures is, that in this day and age, they are considerd borderline crazy. Standing with a Boom box outside the girl's house is bound to make you seem like an anoying stalker who won't take no for an answer. The Adrian Brody Kiss as you so well put it = harassment. Tom cruise jumping on the couch to signify his love to someone 16 years his junior restarted the "Tom cruise is crazy scientology guy" debate. Proposing to someone the day you meet them in this day and age is bound to scare the shit out of them and make them run away from you, cause "who does that?". Admit it, if your friend told you about this dude who proposed to her the first day he met her you would tell her to stay away from him.

The problem with grand gestures is that the world has become far too cynical for them to be viewed as "grand gestures" and not "acts of lunacy". And somehow, in our reality, we are comforted by that: it allowes us to be lazy and safe. You don't chase after the girl who turned you down because you may seem like a psycho stalker. After all,we are repeatedly told, No means No. You don't propose to someone on the first date for the aforementiond "psycho" factor. In this world where we take Prozac and anti-depressents to deal with lives that don't even come close to resemble our own expectations of our future, we are told that emotional outbursts are signs of immaturity. That the key to a happy existance is shielding your emotions,holding back how you truly feel, and calculating every move we make in a relationship out of our fear of scaring the other person away with our "out of control emotions", "unshielded affections" and "Naive openess". So, we play it safe instead, telling ourselves it's better this way, for the protection of our emotions and our sanity.

In essence, they no longer exist because we are cowards. We have set the rules up to be as safe as humanly possible playing the game, and thus wasting our lives in a series of Bullshit relationships and ex's who are closer to why's. Sure, every now and then we get that person that makes our hearts flutter, but that person also always ends up messing us up, and reminds us why we put those rules, shields and defenses up in the first place. And until those are down, the world of grand gestures will remain elusive to the rest of us.

6:23 AM  
Blogger pamela said...

You put it all better than I ever could have. I think the trick with grand gestures is that you have to be pretty certain the person will be receptive. And if you know that, then how grand can it really be? Then we come to the paradox of your final paragraph: The ones who truly give us that suck-in-your-breath-wish-for-time-to-freeze feeling almost always destroy us in the end.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A hard driving boss once said something to me that, at the time, was meant to jostle me out of my comfort zone and make me realize that a particular business situation needed something more if I expected to be successful.

I find his words incredibly wise and, suprisingly, still resonate in our sometimes juvenile approach to life, love and happiness in adulthood.

His remarks:

"Hope is not a strategy."

Ponder this - everything that you ever wanted in life, you pretty much had to plot, plan and work for. High school, college, employment, a house, etc.

Why then, when it comes to love, do we throw our hands up and say "Ahhh, it just wasn't meant to be...?"

If you want something, go make it happen. Not force it to happen, but determine what (or who) you want, craft a plan and then execute that plan to fruition. Along the way, you'll have to adapt, overcome and adjust.

In the end, you'll probably be successful.

A good friend once told me, "You really can have anything that you want - it just depends on how hard you are willing to work to get it."

Grand gestures at the right moment = carefully architected strategy.

Leaving it all up to the Gods of Love and Romance to put you in the right place at the right time = lazy ass who deserves what you're putting into it. Not much.

"Hope is not a strategy."

What's yours?

8:48 PM  
Blogger pamela said...

Sure, you can strategize love. In fact, there are many books on the subject. You can pick a person, determine to be with them, and take the necessary steps to make it happen. And, likely, it will.

But the staying power of strategized love? In my opinion, not much. Because strategy, when applied to human relationships, really just means games. Some of us are great at games (hi, Sam). And others of us don't feel like wasting our time (hi, me). The fact is, if you choose not to play games (i.e., strategize love), your chances of "getting" the person you want rightthisminute are pretty slim.

But maybe that's okay. Because it leaves the door open for someone who's secure enough in what they want to strip down that cowardice that Sandmonkey spoke of, at least to a certain degree, at least enough to let someone in. Doing so can mean disastrous heartbreak. But, as I posted so many months ago, when you play a game, there's a winner and a loser. It's so very rarely a tie.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone is a winner in the game of love. Right?

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tricks are for kids, silly rabbit.

Strategy is not a competition. It is not a game.

In business, if you think in terms of a "winner" and a "loser", you've failed.

Strategy is putting knowledge, experience and desire together to formulate a plan. The plan in this case is to find someone who makes you happy and who in turn is made happy by you.

Strategy is solving a problem for both sides. Find out what you need, find out what they need - craft a plan that reconciles both as much as possible and within the tolerance of both sides. There is no perfect state of affairs. Stop thinking that.

Win-win, get it?

You know who you are (if you don't by now, you might want to seek professional help), take comfort in knowing yourself, determine what kind of partner you would want to be with (while realizing they are going to have to want to be with you) and then audition as many suitable candidates as you have to in order find the fit.

Why do people strive to make it more complicated?

The human condition, our ability to reason, it most often times our greatest enemy.

4:27 PM  
Blogger pamela said...

Fair enough.

Given my track record, who am I to argue?

What's with all the anonymity?

12:37 PM  
Blogger The Sandmonkey said...


"Tricks are for kids, silly rabbit."

Quoting O-Rin from Kill Bill Vol. 1, are we? hehe

In regards to your comment, i will have to politely disagree. Having a strategy usually has one aim: fo you to get what you want. Whether or not the other party gets what they want, well, that's more like a sidenote.

Even when you are "solving the problem from both sides" as you've put it, you are only doing it to get what you want. You don't really care about the other side getting what they want, but if that's the only way for you to get what you want, hey, then sure. Let them have it, as long as it means that I get what I want.

However, the best strategies are the ones where you get what you want without sacrifising anything. In Sun Tzu immortal words, the best military generals are the ones who win the War without fighting a single battle.

But anyway....

"You know who you are (if you don't by now, you might want to seek professional help), take comfort in knowing yourself, determine what kind of partner you would want to be with (while realizing they are going to have to want to be with you) and then audition as many suitable candidates as you have to in order find the fit."

It's that easy now, is it? Wow anonymous, you are a genius. Howcome no one thought of that before? You should write a book or something.

Pardon my sarcasm in my previous paragraph, but dude, it's not that simple. It's not easy, and it's not because we are reasoning or self-analyzing or complicating things too much. It's because human beings are complicated creatures to be friends with, let alone be in relationships with, and let alone living with them or being married to them. That is, of course, if you can get them to that point to begin with without them getting bored with you, or you getting bored with them. That is also, of course, discounting the plathora of other reasons why a relationship could fail, which often include the most unreasonable or stupid reasons.

It's not like you will find that suitable girlfriend/ boyfriend and it's smooth sailing into the sunset. Shit, it's gonna take you at least 3 months to find out who they really are, let alone what psycholigical problems and emotional scars plague their sorry asses, and if you can actually deal with them.

I guess what i am trying to say is: IT IS NOT SIMPLE!

But does that mean you have to give up? Nope. You try, and you try again and again and again. Because they can't all be assholes/sluts/jerks/nutbags. Along the way you will find someone who is equally as crazy as you are and their idosynciristis (sp?)will somehow accomodate your own and who hopefully won't suck in bed whom you can settle down with. Some people find such a person very fast, others take years and others never find them. Just the way things are.

This is why some people are always urged to settle for someone less than the person they wanted or envisioned themselves with. Cause at the end of the day, we would rather be sad than alone. And you can check previous Valentine Days for the accuracy of that statement. That, my friend, is the problem with the human condition: we don't want to be alone. It forces the unlucky amongst us to compromise at some point, and no strategy will be of use to us then.


I don't know what your track record is, but I can imagine. My question to you is this : You are not going to argue with Anonymous, but do you actually agree with what he said? Like, do you believe it to be true and realistic?

5:16 AM  
Blogger pamela said...


No, I don't. I don't agree with Anonymous at all.

Love is not business, as much as match.com, eharmony, etc. + ridiculous numbers of books out there on finding the perfect person might want it to be. If love were a formula, we'd be robots. We can sit down and make a list of exactly what we want in a partner and then try to find someone who fits that list and hope we fit his/hers (and all of the other stuff you listed, which makes so much sense), but the fact is, if we take such a narrow approach to love, we may never find that perfect person who -- 99 times out of 100 -- is only perfect in his/her imperfections.

I refuse to settle. I may not always choose well, but it is those very choices that will lead me to what (or, more aptly, who) it is I truly want. I think that many of us have these ideas about what it means to be in a relationship/married. And, as a result, we narrow our options unnecessarily. The person you're meant to be with may look nothing like what you thought he/she would. And I don't mean physically. Though there's that, too.

I'm not saying you can't strategize love. I'm sure you can. But do you really want to? Love is messy. Always. If it isn't? I'm not sure it's really love.

6:52 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

I love you...hope you are feeling better. XX

2:32 AM  
Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Totally agree with you!

5:34 AM  
Blogger Vanessa said...

Don't know if you'll get this, becuase I'm posting it on such an old comment... but yeah... good post, just letting you know I stopped by.

11:13 AM  
Blogger GrandGestureOfLove said...

I was doing some research on my idea for a Grand Gesture, and I found your blog. I've made my own blog stating my idea for a gesture of my own. It's in the beginning phase. I thought that you might like to check it out. I'm linking to your blog as well. I think it is interesting what you said, and made me start thinking in terms of how it will be perceived by the girl I'm doing it for and the possible outcome. Wish me luck, and watch to see how the story will unfold.

4:28 PM  
Blogger brookem said...

hi there. a friend directed me over to this post telling me that it was "poignant." i totally agree.

these big, grand gestures. sigh. how about big, running to paris to catch carrie? there's another one for you. and i couldn't agree more about the idea that it's just as scary to think of succeeding as it is at failing.

9:47 PM  

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