“Romantic Love”


                                                          “Romantic Love”

Some years back I attended a wedding at a fashionable Manhattan club.  Le tout New York was there.  The bride was a long-stemmed American beauty, highly thought of in her profession.  The groom was one of those Englishmen whose recent best seller depicted his death-defying struggle to survive a desert trek through the back of beyond.  Glasses were raised, the happy couple stepped out on the dance floor, and the groom in plummy accents promised us all to “take care of her.”

He sure did.  He turned out well able to re-create an emotional desert in a London flat.  A year later she was back in New York, so unable to face her former wedding guests that she moved out of town.  Perhaps by now she has recovered but, when I last heard of her, she had found a place to huddle in solitude facing the cold Atlantic shore.

The moral of stories like this has been drawn by contemporary women in short order: romantic love is a crock.

I don’t think so, nor do I think those who talk that way really think so either.

Another Manhattan incident comes to mind.  It was also years ago when I saw a girl and boy, both about eighteen or twenty, step onto the crosstown bus at Madison Avenue and 86th street.  They looked so exquisitely attuned and so lovely that anyone not similarly attached could only with difficulty escape a twinge of envy.  I certainly couldn’t escape it but tried not to stare.  They fascinated me.

Presently an old man seated across the aisle began to emit disagreeable noises.  One might choose to think that he suffered from dementia or else couldn’t control his vocal chords, but I believed he was feeling more than a twinge of envy and was trying to pierce the bubble of mutual enchantment that enclosed the young couple.  They evidently thought so too, for they got off the bus before it crossed the park, deciding to wait for the next one.

From this (no doubt inadequate) sample, I nevertheless could not help but draw the inference: what the world wants, and envies beyond anything, is romantic love.

Accordingly I resolved, during my single years, not to get a cat.  The point was to remember clearly and distinctly, and never to forget, that there was something I wanted – and it wasn’t a cat!


About Abigail

Abigail Rosenthal is Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of A Good Look at Evil, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, now available in an expanded, revised second edition and as an audiobook. Its thesis is that good people try to live out their stories while evil people aim to mess up good people’s stories. Her next book, Confessions of a Young Philosopher, forthcoming and illustrated, provides multiple illustrations from her own life. She writes a weekly column for her blog, “Dear Abbie: The Non-Advice Column” (www.dearabbie-nonadvice.com) where she explains why women's lives are highly interesting. She’s the editor of the posthumously published Consolations of Philosophy: Hobbes’s Secret; Spinoza’s Way by her father, Henry M. Rosenthal. Some of her articles can be accessed at https://brooklyn-cuny.academia.edu/AbigailMartin . She is married to Jerry L. Martin, also a philosopher. They live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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