“All right now, listen up. You cannot get two people to fall in love by shillyshallying. This is serious business. We’re talking about love—passionate love. The kind of love that eats away at you in the dark hours of the night. The kind of love that makes you crazy enough to hate. The kind of love that makes you wanna nuzzle and kiss and nibble and bite—”
“Just introduce the boy.”
“Okay, Venus. Ahem. So as I was saying, our son, Cupid, has a brief presentation—”
“It’s not brief, Mars. It’s actually quite lengthy.”
“Venus, do you want to introduce Cupid or would you like to zip it for five minutes? I swear you could talk a pot of water to boil. Sometimes you make me so mad that I could—”
“Start another war? Now that would be useful.”
“Oh, simmer down before you misplace your spear again. Ladies and gentlemen, what our son Cupid would like to explain is the systematic process of romantic love in the earthly realm. It’s a powerful force, but one that is carefully managed and aggregated here on Mount Olympus.”
“I’ll take it from here, Venus. All right, folks. Put your hands together for the god of desire, the god of erotic love, the god that brings every luscious drop of attraction and toe-curling morsel of affection to all mankind. Please welcome my son—Cupid!”
“Thank you, Mars. And please, hold your applause until the end. I have a four-hundred-and-twenty-five slide PowerPoint presentation that will explain the meticulous method we use to calculate how mortals find true love, as well as the computations of a couple’s compatibility index or eventual emotional damage score. So, if you open your packets and turn to the tab for prescribed sequencing, you will see the decision matrix used to achieve the desired effect. I will explain the flowchart as we go along. Are there any questions at the outset?”
Are you saying there is an algorithm for falling in love?
“Not only am I saying there is an algorithm for falling in love, but it’s been systematically codified into an easy-to-understand ninety-two page flow chart—all on legal-sized paper in a Duo-tang two-pocket folder. Are there any more questions before we begin?”
“Then let’s get started. Look at the branch and control start symbol on your left.”
“No. Do NOT swipe left. That will negate the entire process. Just look at the initial oval start symbol, which, ironically is Step 1: Looking.”
If the first step is looking, then how do blind people fall in love?
“That’s covered in the off-page connector box at the bottom on page thirty-seven, which describes a separate process entirely, one involving the heightening of other senses. When touch comes into play, hoo-wee! But let’s start with the basics. Looking. Falling in love generally starts when a mortal first sees a LI.”
“No, no. Not a lie. An L.I.—a Love Interest. That is the initial step. Spotting a LI. Do you understand?”
“Well, just muddle along until it all clicks. As Petrarch wrote in his 14th c. love sonnet: I fell a captive, Lady, to the sway / Of your swift eyes: that seemed no time to stay /The strokes of Love…”
STROKES of love. *snicker*
“Let’s keep this family-friendly, shall we?”
Sure, Eros. Whatever you say.
“Now, the first eye-to-eye connection with a LI starts the chain of events that leads to romantic love. The connecting arrow from the initial viewing leads to the first diamond shape on the algorithm, indicating a decision. Although there can be multiple outcomes to this decision, usually a YES or NO option will suffice in understanding how to proceed.”
You want to dumb that down for the peanut gallery?
“Essentially, when one spots a LI, he or she needs to decide whether to engage.”
Engaged? That escalated quickly. I thought they were just looking…
“No, not getting engaged to be married—they are becoming engaged in the process. The algorithm doesn’t work by itself. Effort must be expended. This is where the end-user hits a checkpoint. For example, does she say hello to the handsome stranger at a party? Does he cross the dance floor to join in with some mutual twerking? Does he pop into the overpriced coffee shop—to follow the LI he spotted on the subway?”
How is this different from stalking?
“Intent. Does the party in question want to smother the LI in tenderness and affection, or does he just want to smother her? See the control transfer symbol to indicate the process step when specific conditions are met.”
This is incredibly complicated.
“Oh trust me. I know. Skip to the summing junction symbols on page twelve. You’ll see that multiple branches converge into a single process.”
What’s the process?
“At thirteen years old, the first tinglings of romantic love grow in the puberty forest.”
“You will note that when a young teenager first feels affection for another, they will smack, slap, or push the party in question. There is definitely some creative name calling and some trash talking on social media.”
About the object of their affection?
“What can I say? The repellant-attraction method seems to work well with teenagers. As Edmund Spenser wrote: ‘My Love is like to ice, and I to fire…’”
So the more the LI disdains the pursuing party, the stronger the romantic attachment?
When does this change?
“It doesn’t really change. It may lessen a bit over time as their mortal bodies begin to bloat and sag, but essentially for a human to romantically attract another, he or she must appear completely disinterested, entirely self-confident, and wholly independent.”
How does anyone get together?
“You will note the large rectangular process symbol on the last page.”
The rectangle that just has the word ALCOHOL on it?
“Exactly. That seems to cut out a few hundred steps in the falling in love process.”
So is falling out of love just as complicated?
“Not really. I’ve included that flowchart on a Post-It note.”
Step 1: The LI is no longer interesting. That’s it?
How does one rectify the convoluted process of finding, nurturing, and winning another person’s affection only to lose it when they cease to remain interesting?
“The answer is on the back of the Post-It.”
It’s just another rectangle with the word ALCOHOL on it!
“It’s why Bacchus is so popular.”