A Critique of the Romantic Film Genre
— Jemima Schoen
Sorry, I should probably introduce myself. I’m Girl. I live in a three-bedroom house in LA with like a really small pool, so money’s tight. I’m ashamed to say it, but I’ve always been kind of embarrassed about how poor I am. But this year, everything was going to change. I was going to a new school. Just a tragically-dressed secret genius from the wrong side of the tracks, about to start my junior year of high school.
So, at the beginning of this year, I was a total Nobody. My best friends were Ponytail and Glasses. Who knew I was hiding the features of a goddess under such a harsh exterior? I was so stupid. Didn’t I know Men were looking at me? Luckily, a random cosmetology student who has used her beautification skills to defraud companies of millions and overthrow countless oligarchies in Eastern Europe was able to fix me up. Now I have like purple eyelashes and stuff.
I was also all independent feminist-y, but I think we all know deep down I was just scared of falling in love. I always used to love intelligent, stimulating conversation, but now I’m a lot more low-maintenance. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m the highest-maintenance girl in the world because I’ve finally let love into my life. I never settle for any less than what I’m told I deserve, but I have so many choices to make.
Today is decision day. Who will I choose: Juvenile Delinquent or Best Friend/Stalker? They’re both so amazing. My dad hates Juvenile Delinquent because he’s into indie cover bands and super eclectic things like arson, but my mom said she once saw Best Friend/Stalker sleep on our lawn for a month. So romantic!
I just can’t help but ask myself, why me? How did I get stuck with two amazing guys pining for my attention and love? No time to dilly-dally though, I’ve got a full schedule ahead of me.
Right now, I have to head out to the mall to loiter and look pensive. I do this every day after school. It’s like an extracurricular, except it’s the only extracurricular where I can point at people passing by me and make fun of them. They’re all living in a world with no past, and the future is the peace of the eye of the beholder. That’s actually a line from one of Juvenile Delinquent’s poems that he secretly writes. One time, someone suggested that he gets them off the internet, but he doesn’t even know what that is. He doesn’t even use real money, he just barters like we did in the olden days before kids were glued to their phones. Juvenile Delinquent and I originally bonded over how we’re the only two teenagers on the entire planet who like nature. No one understands it: There’s like grass and stuff. I bet my classmates don’t even know what grass is. I’m different from every other teen I’ve met, but that’s probably because I’m actually 30.
How do I get my homework done? You’ll never see me doing it. Just practicing for when I reject three Ivy League colleges I get into. My mom was being all immature and lecturing me about how fortunate I am to have gotten into these colleges, especially since I’m at a second-grade math level. But she doesn’t understand that it’s just been really hard for me. Like, all these colleges want me, but how am I supposed to prioritize me? It’s like with Juvenile Delinquent and Best Friend/Stalker. I guess I have my answer, and it’s not going to annoy them at all.
I tell my two Suitors that they can return their cows and pigs to their houses because I choose me. They both leave. This is definitely the right decision, I think to myself as I watch Best Friend/Stalker mope away, holding the exact same flowers I had in the picture of my first birthday party that Best Friend/Stalker took from my house and tucks into bed every night. Goodbye drama. I’m seriously not the dramatic type, but I’m so lucky that they both respect me so much.
The next day, I peer past my smashed window to see Juvenile Delinquent throwing rocks at my house. It’s so cute that he’s leaning into this whole romantic thing by summoning me with rocks to show how much he loves me. Probably.
He says, “Get down here, stupid!”
He continues, “I know you were just trying to make Best Friend/Stalker not feel bad, so I allowed you another chance to tell me that you pick me.”
It’s crazy because he can always tell exactly what I’m actually thinking because sometimes I can just get confused and think that I’m not thinking it or maybe I just like forgot. I’m so lucky to have him. He’s right. I always knew we belonged together.
“Come on,” he says, slapping his car not at all patronizingly.
“I’m coming, idiot!” I shout.
When I get down, he tells me that it’s not okay to call people stupid or an idiot and I know that he would never do that to me. Sometimes I just act hysterical. I get in his car as he struggles with his keys.
“What’s the matter?” I say. “Are you having trouble remembering which key locks the car?”
“No,” he says. “I stole this car.”
At this point, he takes me to his Spot He’s Never Shown Anyone. Locations may vary. Sometimes it’s the top of a mountain, a gazebo, or a library. He teaches me to read, and I teach him that anger is not good. I’m the only one who’s able to calm him down. We’re fixing each other and it’s so healthy. Next, we do Something Daring, like vandalizing government property, or stealing flowers from a bunny. We’re Young and Foolish Teens Who Are Normal. Pan to Us Just Sitting There.
“Trauma,” he says.
“Trauma as well,” I say.
I know in my heart that the convergence of our trauma means we’re soulmates. I just wish he wasn’t a war criminal. I found out at prom and ever since then, things have been just kind of weird between us. I hate myself for being so judgmental, but I think I just need some time to process that he bombed an entire town. I’m not evolved yet as a person, so things like that are what’s still important to me. I know, I know. You’re going to tell me he loves me. I mean, we have the Greatest Love Story Ever. I’m so independent and like all feminist-y except when he’s around. He thaws the ice around my heart. Now I hate other women.
So, Yale, this is who I am. I’m Quirky, Unique, and Not At All the Same as Anyone Ever. I’m not a Girly-Girl. I Eat Pizza, Play Video Games, and Criticize Passers-By In the Hall while Wondering Why No One Likes Me. But I’m still a work in progress. I want to be as nice as Olivia. As easy-going as Brendon, but most of all, as caring as Patricia.
Just so you know, this is pretty much a safety school for me in case my boyfriend doesn’t run after me in the airport. It’s mostly to make him see the error of his ways. Once he tells me that if we’re together we don’t need anything else, I’ll probably bail. We’re going to last forever.