The Holiday, as it turns out, has become my love barometer.
This Nancy Meyers film tells the story of two women suffering the malady of love who do a home exchange with each other in different countries to get away from it all and each winds up falling in love while on vacation.
While Kate Winslet’s character gets to know herself and her future lover (Jack Black, in the most acute reversal of typecasting I’ve ever seen) before the first kiss, Cameron Diaz’ character goes to bed with Jude Law the first time they meet. Though it starts as a one-night stand, they wind up sleeping together several more times at which point (a mere two weeks later) he proclaims his love for her. Romantic, huh?
Or is it a fantasy addict’s dream come true?
The first time I saw this movie I wanted to be in Diaz’ shoes. I mean, if any man could encourage me to shuck my clothes within twenty minutes of meeting him, it would be Jude Law. I enjoyed this film many more times over the years until the love scenes involving Law became pixilated from so much wear and tear. But recently I popped the DVD in again—and was surprised to find that my dedication to Law’s nudity had wavered somewhat.
“The thing is,” says the post-coital Law to Diaz, “I love you.”
“What?!” I yelled at the TV screen. “Love her? Do you even know her middle name? How about her favorite Beatle? What makes her cry? How does she treat wait staff? And would she stand by you if you lost all your money in a bogus pyramid scheme??” I shook my head. “You don’t love her. You lust her. Admit it!”
Needless to say, he didn’t respond to my accusations.
Call me old-fashioned, a fuddy-dud, or unromantic (none of which I am, but you can call me that if you want), but I have found that most people seem to confuse love with lust. Lust is physical, sexual, intense, immediate and doesn’t entail any special knowledge of the person whom you desire. You can feel lust for someone without knowing their middle name, favorite Beatle or why in hell they got involved in a pyramid scheme.
Love is a deeper understanding of and affection for another, and isn’t necessarily intertwined with sex—such as the love you have for friends and family (unless, of course, your name is Oedipus).
But the bottom line is, real love requires time to get to know each other while lust emerges immediately.
So, does this mean that I can’t enjoy watching such movies as The Holiday or that I judge sex-only liaisons? Hell no. As Woody Allen observed, “Sex without love is an empty experience, but as far as empty experiences go, it’s one of the best.” I just won’t mistake it for a relationship.