I’m a creep; I’m a weirdo.

One of my favorite hobbies is people watching (creeping), and that’s pretty much the #1 reason why I love Vegas so much. It’s not the gambling, or the strip clubs / night clubs, or even the buffets (though that’s probably #2): it’s the fact that I can see  and experience a relatively decent population sample of the world in one place. With this many people, you are bound to run into a wide array of couples. 24 years of experience has taught me that fashion, fads, and foreign currencies may change, but signs of love remain consistent and universal.

It’s time for some real talk, people. Let’s get serious. In my first post since the slutty paradise that is Vegas, I want to talk about love. How do you know if you are in love?

Cheesy, I know. One day, my coworker was facesurfing (facebook surfing, obviously) on her phone when she suddenly snorted. I asked her, “what’s up?” and she replied, “my 13-year-old cousin posted as her status ‘how do you know if you’re in love?’ … what a wanker.” My coworker then proceeded to do a bunch of inappropriate hand gestures while I smirked at how incredibly Australian she is. But then it got me thinking: how do you know?! SHIT, DO I EVEN KNOW?! I always figured that once you meet the right person, it would just hit you, like a bus in Mean Girls or the original Final Destination (or maybe even SPEED. I don’t have a lot of faith in a frantic Sandra Bullock driving a city bus). Or maybe I’d be skipping down the street and birds would suddenly start dancing around me and the Darkness would suddenly start serenading me…

Yes, I have a lot of fantasies where my every day life turns into a musical. Except that I actually have a very deep-seeded hatred for birds, so I’d actually be skipping around and then freaking the eff out / hyperventilating on the ground as soon as the cartoon blue jays even try to start dancing around my head. But the point is this: you don’t just magically know. You figure it out. How? Gather your other 13-year-old friends who are also posting eyeball-roll-inducing facebook statuses and criss-cross applesauce around me. I will read you “Alexha’s Love for Dummies” book. It’s sure to be a best selling “____ for Dummies” book– just give it a few years. (The alternate title was “He’s Just Not That Into You… Yet: How to Make Him Fall in Love with You Using Night Vision Goggles and a Fake Pregnancy,” but the publicist said there isn’t enough space on the cover for all the words plus a giant photo of my face, so I knew I had to shorten it.)

First things first, let’s clear up the difference between  romance and  love. Romance is all that mushy shit in the movies that girls go crazy for, boys secretly like, and vampires symbolize in some pop cultures that I refuse to acknowledge. It’s the candlelit dinners, horse drawn carriage rides around Central Park, and Freddie Prinze Jr. movies. My very first encounter with the notion of romance was from the critically acclaimed movie IT TAKES TWO, starring Steven Guttenberg, Kirstie Ally, and YES, the Olson twins, when they Diane Barrows (Alley) says you know that you’re with the right person when you experience the “can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of stuff.” I remember this super confused me because I ran to my mom asking how she can eat and sleep if she loves my dad and she quizzically told me to go clean my bathroom because my weird questions meant I have too much free time on my hands to think about stupid stuff. As I went to go to reluctantly Windex the bathroom mirror (one of my favorite chores), I remember thinking that I never want to be in love if it meant that I couldn’t eat or sleep.

Now, even as an 8 year old, I never had any doubt that my parents are the epitome of “being in love,” so that’s when I cleverly figured it out that this Kirstie Alley chick is crazy. Later on, I realized that she was really talking about romance, not love. Romance is everything that happens during the movie, and love is what happens after the credits roll. From a runner’s perspective (yeah, I’m a runner. I ran a half marathon once, nbd.) romance is the race, and love is the orange slices and teeny-tiny water bottles waiting for you at the finish line; everyone focuses on the race itself, but aftermath is what actually matters to you. Albeit, it may not be as intense as the run or glorious as crossing the finish line (which is obviously the wedding in this metaphor. HOLY CRAP, I JUST MADE THIS ALL UP 2 SECONDS AGO BUT IT WORKS SO WELL. JUST GO WITH IT, PEOPLE.), but it’s the “happily ever after.”

In my humbly expert (or expertly humble) opinion, love is enthusiastic coexistence. What do these big words mean, Dr. of Love? (You can call me D.o.L for short… doll. hahahahha) Enthusiastic means to do something happily. Coexistence is to exist along-side someone else. That’s exactly what love is to me. To happily spend your days with someone. FOOOOOOR. EV. VER.

So when you posted that fb status about knowing whether or not you’re in love, I’m pretty sure you mean infatuated, or romantically attached, because as a 13 year old kid, you should definitely NOT be thinking about spending the rest of your life with someone. Trust me. Your prepubescent crush is NOT going to be the same person in 2, 5, 10, or 20 years. And neither will you. Also, they won’t look the same. What if they’re genetically cursed with early onset baldness? All your hard-earned burger-flipping money is going to be swallowed up by the toupee, oversized hats, and Rogaine industries. If I had married the boy I so hopelessly thought I was in love with when I was a tween, I probably never would have been able to accomplish everything I’ve done in the past 10 years (hold the record for longest beer pong winning streak at Garrett’s and Pierce’s, adopt a dog and name him Gambit, memorize all the lyrics to every single Ingrid Michaelson song, finally look non-lame in a fedora, etc) and he probably wouldn’t have either. So the point is, you meant to ask about romance, not love.

But since you did ask about love, I’ll elaborate on that, since the Beastie can attest to the fact that I am somehow missing the “romance” chip when they programmed me. Now that I’m nearly 2 dozen years old, I’ve become much wiser, and have compiled a check list of things to look for when someone is genuinely in love:

  • You’re always thinking about that person, and consequently, you’re always talking about that person. To the point in which people around you get bored of hearing about your significant other. “Yes, Mom. You already told us about how you packed Dad a PB&J sandwich for lunch, and then at lunch time, he called you tell you that he was eating said sandwich. Oh, you put strawberry jam instead of grape jelly this time? Awesome.” This rule actually doesn’t just apply to people, but anything you love in general. “Hey everybody, check out my new phone! The voice activated Angry Birds app has totally revolutionized my life!” “Your skin is very pink from all this sunlight. Speaking of pink, my new water bottle is pink! Isn’t it awesome? My old, lame one could only hold 32 oz., but this one holds 36!” Need I go on? I’ll admit that I am guilty of this fault, especially when it comes to my job. I’m sure people are sick of hearing it by now, but I will never stop talking about it. If you love me, you’ll deal with it. Which brings me to my next bullet…
  • You pretty much put up with any annoying quirks about someone because you suddenly find it “endearing” (even though you’re probably the only one with that opinion). For example: snoring. My dad is one of the loudest snorers I’ve ever had the pleasure of having a room down the hall from. This started long before noise-canceling headphones were invented, so my only two explanations as to why my mom hasn’t suffocated him at night yet is either because she’s deaf or she loves him that much. I’m pretty sure she’s called his brick-breaking snores a “sweet lullaby” at one point or another.
  • You also put up with things you find embarrassing. Apparently it is embarrassing for boys to be seen in a car that’s blasting old school Britney Spears jams? First of all, I find it preposterous that they don’t consider it to be a real honor. Secondly, the windows are rolled up, so if the car next to us can hear it, it’s because they rolled down their own windows because they CRAVE Britney, so relax and go put your Hogwarts robes on, we’re about to be late to the midnight screening of Harry Potter series compilation 18-hour movie.
  • You’re willing to share things that you hold very dear to your heart, such as that brownie sundae you always order at the end of the meal. Unlike Joey. JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD!
  • Thinking about them always makes you smile, even if it’s just on the inside. AWWWWWWWWWW.

Still confused? Fine. I’ll give you the short cut. If you can fart in front of your significant other without either person feeling grossed out / awkward, you’re in love. Got it? Great. I need to catch some sleep. All this wisdom makes me tired. Don’t wake me up unless you’ve cooked me breakfast and you’re making a German flag out of m&m’s on my pancakes.

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