Sunday, December 30, 2012

Twitterpated


This word has become a recent favorite of mine. I’ve been wanting to do a post on this particular topic for some time now, but it’s taken me a long time to find a word which was special, not used very often, yet topical enough to relate to the subject. The subject is one that interests me deeply, and I could probably write pages and pages on its complexities, woes and marvels. So I’m giving you a fair warning before you read any further. If you happen to be bitter, misanthropic or just in a very bad mood, it’s probably not a good idea for you to read any further. Because in this post, I will be talking about love.
    ‘Twitterpated’ is a lovely word which my dictionary only added last November. It means nothing more than ‘infatuated’, ‘obsessed’, ‘smitten’ or ‘lovestruck’. Its etymology is fairly simple, as it is merely the combination of ‘twitter’ (meaning, in this case, a state of nervous agitation) and ‘pated’ (a ‘pate’ is, FYI, a head). So if your head is in a state of nervous agitation, particularly if you have a case of the lovebug, you are twitterpated. The word first arose somewhere in the 1940s, and was famously popularized by the Disney film Bambi. For your amusement, I will add the exert in which the word first occurred.

Thumper: Why are they acting that way? 
Friend Owl: Why, don't you know? They're twitterpated. 
Flower, Bambi, Thumper: Twitterpated? 
Friend Owl: Yes. Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: You're walking along, minding your own business. You're looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. Woo-woo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head's in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you're walking on air. And then you know what? You're knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head! 
Thumper: Gosh, that's awful.
And there you have it: twitterpated. It’s a feeling all of us have experienced, though probably not while ambling in a forest. I can certainly relate. Though I have never run ‘smack’ into a pretty face, pretty faces never fail to charm me. If the pretty face is accompanied by a feisty disposition and a certain level of intelligence, it gets especially dangerous. First, she annoys me, then she amuses me, and then before you know it, I’m twitterpated. And though the mere feeling of being twitterpated isn’t an unpleasant one per se, the repercussions are less pleasant. Every lesbian has, I think, experienced the phenomenon of the ‘straight girl crush’. I’ve experienced it multiple times and, let me tell you, it’s not nice. 
    But even though my personal experiences with that many splendid thing haven’t been particularly stellar, I still retain a fascination for the phenomenon. As such, I think about it, analyze it, philosophize and wonder about it. Several questions rise immediately as a consequence of my unfortunate amatory history. One in particular seems to come up again and again, especially when experiencing the umpteenth unrequited crush: Were the Beatles right?
    Yes, you heard me right. On the 25th of June, 1967, the Beatles were asked to perform a song for the television program Our World, which was the first live global television link. The makers of the program asked the Fab Four to come up with a song containing a simple message to be understood by all nationalities. So they came up with the ultimate lapidary verse, famously followed by an almost mocking chromatic lurch of the brass section: All you need is love.
    But is it, really? The Beatles fan and romantic in me fiercely advocates this message. But my analytical side is less certain. Given my past experiences, the idea that ‘love’ is the only thing you need is laughably childish. Of course, you could argue that the Beatles weren’t talking about that kind of love. They were talking about love in a broad, general sense. Not just romantic love, but the love for your friends and family, the somewhat reluctant but convenient love for your neighbor, and the abstract yet profound love for life, the universe and everything. 
    Maybe some definitions are in order. What I experience as ‘crushes’, though associated with, cannot be equated with ‘love’. What I consider love is not the ‘hey I just met you and this is crazy’-infatuation with someone you hardly know (which happens more often than I’m willing to admit), but the slowly growing, deep love for someone you know intimately. 
    Now for the hard part. What did the Beatles actually mean? All you need is love. To do what, exactly? To attain happiness? I beg to differ. To alleviate the infinite hopelessness of the human condition? Hardly. To give meaning to your meaningless existence? Maybe. But this is murky territory. Because if you want to achieve things in life, you’ll need a lot more than just ‘love’. Successful relationships depend on various factors. If the circumstances aren’t right, chances are that it won’t work out (I refer to Romeo and Juliet). And even if it works out, there are various obstacles which need to be faced with determination, sound reasoning and the will to work it out. Of course, you might argue that these things are merely different names for the same thing. If you only ‘love’ someone enough, things will work themselves out. Not so. Relationships are, after all, nothing more than a partnership in which both partners gain some kind of benefit. If this benefit is lost, all the love in the world won’t help you to ‘fix things’. 
    If you can tell me something enlightening about this matter, please do. Whenever I attempt to answer the question with an absolute ‘no’, my romantic side vehemently protests. Whenever I want to say ‘yes’, I get that queasy feeling in my stomach symptomatic of misgivings. Maybe there isn’t an absolute answer. Maybe you can say ‘yes’, but only in circumstances A, B and G, or you can say ‘no’, except in the cases 1, 4 and 15, which will be discussed in the next chapter. But even though my twitterpated episodes haven’t been particularly beneficial for my mental health, I do feel like they have taught me something. 
    A raging cliché: it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Even during the moments when it hurts so bad that I wished it had never happened, I can’t deny the truth of this. The human heart needs to be educated, maybe even more than the brain. And though there are dozens of books written on the subject, I think the word ‘street-smart’ applies more in this case. Love is something you have to learn the hard way. Whether you like it or not.  

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