Ever since we girls were small and incredibly impressionable, we have been programmed to expect grand gestures from the opposite sex in terms of love and/or proof of love. Think about all the Disney movies that involve a princess, a prince, and some sort of beast (though not, of course, THE Beast): the prince risks his life to slay the beast thus saving the princess and proving his love to her.
When we grow up, we realize that beasts don't actually exist - literally, of course - so we gravitate towards chick flicks that still have those grand gestures we so crave that may seem a tad implausible, but at least they're more realistic than royalty and monsters. Noah hangs from a ferris wheel just to secure a date with Ally in The Notebook. Patrick sings "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" to Kat during her school-sanctioned soccer practice, enlisting the help of the school marching band and getting a detention in 10 Things I hate About You. Landon marries Jaime even though they both know she's going to die, but he does it because it's on her List in A Walk to Remember. In Love, Actually, the boy runs to the airport just to prove his love for the girl, Colin Firth learns a second language in order to propose to a woman he's known only a couple of weeks, and Hugh Grant goes to every single door in a rather large neighborhood in order to find the one woman he's smitten with. In A Cinderella Story, Chad Michael Murray leaves in the middle of a very important football game of which he's a quarterback and there are college recruiters (one from USC!) in order to go up to Hilary Duff's character, apologize, and then subsequently make out with her in the rain.
Now who wouldn't want a guy to do that for them? Any one of those grand gestures is beautiful, thoughtful, and magnificent. But is it something we girls should expect from men? Is it really fair?
I've been through my fair share of guys, and it's easy to paint every single guy similar to the last when, really, the only common element they may have is that any sort of relationship between me and him has failed. Just because Number 24 stood me up three times in a row, just because the Italian took advantage of my generous nature, and just because Ice Cream dumped me because his friends didn't think I was popular enough doesn't mean that I should worry that Goat or whatever guy I'm with will do the same thing.
Every man is different. I mean, okay, so every guy thinks about sex every six seconds and they all seem to rubberneck when a woman - who cares if she's pretty or not - walks by with a nice pair of breasts, but they're all different. And as such, we shouldn't expect them to act the same. We should trust in him that he's a good guy, we should trust in ourselves that we could choose a good guy to want to spend time with, and we should have faith in the universe that whatever happens will happen and nothing we do can prevent it.
And because every guy is different, we shouldn't expect ridiculously grand gestures from every single guy we're with. Personally, I'm not into a whole deal of romance. As silly as it sounds, I prefer a guy I can laugh with, be comfortable around, and be myself with. I don't need flowers and chocolates and love poems or anything lacking substance. That doesn't mean that I don't want to feel special, however. Even if I am simply dating someone, I want to feel desired. I want to feel like he wants to be with me, that we're just a little more than just friends.
My tragic mistake with grand gestures involved the Italian. I wanted to feel special because he wasn't actually making me feel special, so I would ask for love notes or flowers or chocolates or my favorite Valentine's Day candy that, no, does not taste like chalk. He, of course, would either buy these things in front of me, asking before he purchased them if this is what I wanted, or he would complain the whole time. We were both at fault. He should have done something in his nature, made some kind of effort to warrant me special and I shouldn't have asked him to do romantic things and then expect perfection when romance really wasn't in his genes.
What I now have to do is remind myself that grand gestures make for good movies but expectations for real men to do something similar is unfair and unpersonalized. I'm sorry, but for future reference, I would rather be proposed to in or adjacent to Alvin Karpis's cell in Alcatraz than on a beach or during a picnic or at a fancy restaurant where I almost choke on the ring because how was I supposed to know it was at the bottom of my champagne glass filled with ice water? Because Alcatraz actually means something to me, and the guy who actually wants to marry me should know that.
And maybe guys do partake in grand gestures but the simplicity of them gets drowned out by the grandness the movies portray. Maybe something as small as walking me to my car is a grand gesture. Number 24 never did that, and the Italian always complained whilst doing it. Maybe it was offering to cook me dinner even though he forgot to tell me not to eat before I came over so I wasn't hungry and he ended up cooking just for himself before putting in a movie. Maybe it's watching all three Pirate movies, even though he has no problem terming the third one as a "suckfest" straight to my face. Or maybe it's when he actually plans to go to a hockey game a month beforehand even though he doesn't really like to plan for anything.
Maybe personalized simplicity is the grand gesture, and these movies, with their scripted romance, fall just short of the mark.