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Stranger Than Fiction

19 July 2016
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When I was in third grade, I received my first love letter. It was from Timothy Lloyd, a blond haired cherub of fourth grader and the fastest runner in his class. Definitely a catch. The letter was delivered to me by a boy with purple sneakers, because the idea of little Timmy and I communicating face to face was… well, far-fetched to say the least. It read “Even though you wear glasses I still think you’re pretty. Wanna go out?” Ah, ever the romantic that boy. Of course I said yes – fastest runner in his class, remember? I scribbled out my answer on a heart shaped sticky note and gave it to the purple-sneakered boy to deliver to my new boyfriend.

As a kid, I was obsessed with teen romance movies. 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s All That, The Notebook – oh god The Notebook. In my head, my love affair with Timothy was basically the real life version of Blane and Andie’s relationship in Pretty in Pink. Our romance of four weeks was a long one, by primary school standards at least, but unlike Andie and Blane, we could not withstand the pressures of the social ladder. So the boy in the purple sneakers delivered my first break-up letter too. I read it hanging upside down on the monkey bars. “I decided you’re gross,” proclaimed my now ex-boyfriend in dark blue gel pen. Dangling there, broken-hearted, Timothy became the first of a long line of boys to shatter my delusional romantic expectations. Here’s a list of all the times my life was almost, but not quite, a movie moment.

Love Actually

Really, what is more romantic than silently professing your love to a girl via a series of oversized flashcards? According to Love Actually, it’s silently professing your love to your best friend’s wife via a series of oversized flashcards. In my version of this Christmas classic, it’s just past midnight and I’m sitting on the loo while my boyfriend snores in the next room. My phone vibrates and for once it’s not just Telstra telling me I’ve run out of data – it’s Cedrick, my boyfriend’s BFF. I swipe to unlock and come face to face with a collection of shockingly pink dick pics. Now THAT is love actually.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

You know the final scene where Holly Golightly and her love interest Paul are searching frantically for Cat in the rain? Yeah, that happened to me. Kind of. It went like this: I was signing for a package when my dog slipped past me out the front door and off into a torrential downpour. The postman and I both dropped what we were doing and chased after him, me barefoot in a dressing gown, the postman clutching his beer gut as he ran. We found my pup, but it’s fair to say there was no passionate, rain sodden embrace between me and the forty-something postie.

While You Were Sleeping

Throughout most of my high school career, I had an intense crush on a boy we’ll call Tyson. I was completely enamoured. He, of course, had no knowledge of my existence. I loved him all the same. Let me set the scene for you: it’s a backyard party, some guy’s 15th birthday. Everyone is drinking raspberry Cruisers or goon. Yeah, a real classy shindig. Anyway, I was walking around in the bushes looking for a place to piss (like I said, classy) when I tripped over a lifeless body. It was Tyson, passed the fuck out. Much like Sandra Bullock’s character in While You Were Sleeping, I saw an opportunity and took it. I sprinted back towards the party and grabbed a girl’s shoulder; “Come quick! My boyfriend’s passed out!” She gathered a group of people and I showed them to my unconscious lover. Unfortunately, in my drunken stupor I had forgotten that when you live in a small town, everyone knows everyone’s business. “That’s not your boyfriend,” the girl said, “fuckin’ weirdo”.

The Titanic

I went through a phase where I decided I would explore empowerment and womanhood by posing for life drawing classes, because I’m a 21st Century girl. One particular class, lounging in the nude, your typical shaggy art boy started making intense eye contact with me while he sketched. I walked over to ask for his number afterwards but was so embarrassed by the detail with which he had drawn every inch of my cellulite that I practically ran out of the room.

Grease

Possibly the most watched film of my childhood, Grease gave me a lot of unrealistic expectations for life, namely that I would look good in shiny disco pants (damn you and your long legs, Olivia Newton-John). It also taught me that if things were ever gonna work out for me and the Bad Boy, I was gonna have to become the Bad Girl. Enter Mitchell Huett, my seventh grade crush. A skateboarder, a smoker, a drug dealer and a whole two years older than me. Every mum’s greatest nightmare. In my 13-year-old naivety I started wearing all black, dyed my hair and purposely got things wrong on tests because my “A” average was seriously messing with my cool factor. Thankfully, I quickly realised that, much like the unexplained flying car in the final scene, some things in Grease are just bullshit.

The Notebook

On a family vacation to Bali I met and fell in love with a boy named Noah – coincidence? I think not. Upon arriving home, I discovered he’d sent me a Facebook friend request. Obviously, I accepted, but after realising all of his profile pictures were cars, I lost interest. He, on the other hand, did not. He also had a severe lack of understanding of basic Facebook etiquette, sending me more “You up? ;)” messages than any girl should have to endure. I, unlike Allie and her letters, got every single one of his IM’s. Although I wish I hadn’t.

Bridget Jones’ Diary

Miss Jones and I have so much in common – we’re both awkward, weight-obsessed diary-writers with rather rotund behinds. One thing we don’t have in common is how our lovers react to nasty diary entries. Heart throb Mark Darcy, as we all know, leaves. A dramatic chase involving snow and animal print underwear ensues and then Mr Darcy reveals that he was, in fact, just buying her a new journal so they could have a “new start” together. Cue the swelling music and public display of affection. It doesn’t necessarily go down that way in real life. When my boyfriend read my private thoughts about his “less than satisfying” penis, he left too – not to buy me a new journal, just to go nurse his ego. He broke up with me a week later via text. The film version was so much more romantic.

Notting Hill

Have you ever had one of those days were you just feel so absolutely shit about yourself that you had to get on Tinder and swipe for a couple hours? Every “It’s a Match!” that pops up on your screen is another little boost to your ego. On one such day I was swiping merrily away when lo and behold, Reece Mastin popped up. I swiped right with an embarrassing amount of enthusiasm but of course my phone chose that precise moment to glitch out, Reece’s face suspended halfway off the screen. The app closed itself and when I reopened it, Reece was nowhere to be seen. We’ll never know what might have been.

As you can guess, in spite of the fact that I am the physical embodiment of the quintessential rom-com clumsy girl, I’m yet to find myself snogging Hugh Grant on the big screen. So now here I am, expectations dashed and realising no boy could ever live up to the great romance ideals provided to me by Hollywood. But all things considered, I’m pretty okay with it. Because even though my romantic dalliances don’t involve extravagant gestures of love or a well thought out soundtrack, they’re actually real. And really, no matter how many times I swoon over the boom box scene in Say Anything, waking up to someone standing outside my window blasting ‘In Your Eyes’ would actually be pretty fucking creepy.