Sleeping around: Romantic movies have a lot to answer for

'I spent the flight sipping champagne and fantasising about my dress'

Catherine Townsend
Tuesday 23 September 2008 00:00 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Boarding the flight to Las Vegas before a dramatic reunion with an ex-boyfriend who was most definitely trouble, I thought about how much of my love life I've based on what I've see on television and in movies.

I blame Hugh Grant's character in Four Weddings and a Funeral for my obsession with British men. I learnt that no matter how bumbling and repressed they seemed, they would come through in the end and declare their love, probably in the rain.

After all, this is the land of Shakespeare even if most of the men I've met here think that "courtly love" has something to do with Kurt Cobain.

Another common fantasy is the Sliding Doors moment the idea that, while on a mundane Tube journey, my eyes will meet those of a Colin Firth lookalike.

Never mind that most of the men who start conversations with me in the Tube tend to be asking for spare change. I keep hoping that somewhere, crammed among the sweat-stained masses, I will meet a man who won't baulk at the idea of having to give up his seat to the elderly man with a cane. (If he does, that's an instant deal breaker.)

My ex-boyfriend had always had trouble expressing his feelings, so when he invited me to meet him in Las Vegas, for some reason I thought that being forced to spend time together in a zany, crazy environment would bring us closer together.

If our weekend had been a cheesy romantic comedy, such as What Happens In Vegas, we would have hit the jackpot on a slot machine and married in a drunken ceremony, and the wacky adventures we spent together would have made him realise how much he loved me. Maybe this could even be a crazy story we told our grandchildren one day. After all, Ross and Rachel got married drunk on Friends, and it worked out for the best in the end.

When I got to the airport, Virgin very kindly gave me an upgrade, which I took as a good omen. I spent the entire flight sipping champagne and fantasising about my dress, which looked like the one Sharon Stone wore in Casino when she was shooting craps.

Perhaps the biggest myth that romantic movies perpetuate is the "moment of truth" that magical instant when a totally unsuitable couple realises that they are meant to be together, despite the fact that their relationship was totally dysfunctional up to that point. Usually this involves one or the other disrupting someone's wedding, or stopping them from boarding a flight at the airport.

The reality of Vegas was much more mundane. My ex and I had a nice time that weekend, but we didn't hit the jackpot. We had the same discussions we'd had back in London, and even after drinking the contents of the minibar our relationship problems did not disappear.

But I never regretted taking the risk, because love is a gamble: We invest our time, energy and commitment in anticipation of the "happily ever after" pay-off.

We had a final, dramatic movie moment when got into a final heated argument, and I left for the airport. But he didn't follow me in a taxi, or try to stop the flight.

When all else fails, meanwhile, I take inspiration from the ending of Sex and the City (the TV show, not the movie), when Carrie says that "the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one that you have with yourself."

Maybe I really didn't need a man to provide my happy ending. I'd already done it myself.

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