“…I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!”
“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Every thing nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”
– Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Not long after I found myself giggling while reading the flawless banter between Austen’s heroine and her haughty beau, I got struck with a memory way back from freshman year in college when I received a heartfelt poem, beautifully handwritten in parchment paper and placed in a handsome wooden frame. If my memory serves me right, I either got it as a birthday present or as a gift after our Chorale Valentine concert. The one professing his admiration for me likened me to a “true Filipina” — with elements of Rizal, Maria Clara, and other nationalistic allusions. It would’ve certainly made my PS104 Rizal professor proud.
What I distinctly remember though is how my mother, despite her general dislike for anything cheesy — except if it’s labeled gouda or brie — insisted that I thank the guy, while hastily adding to “not give mixed signals, of course.” At this I had no choice but to roll my eyes and stifle a laugh.
How I inspired such a noble proclamation from a suitor, I do not know, given that my sixteen-year-old self still had braces, an eccentric fashion sense, and a badly cut fringe, paired with a propensity for frivolous subjects. But what I do know is that Austen’s words still ring true today. No matter how romantic a verse or a gesture is, if the recipient is not willing to receive it, the words will always fall flat. I tried to defy this theory some time last year when I thought my affections could grow and develop in time for someone I had no initial interest in. My heart thawed, in a way, but it all ended up in an unnecessary disaster that would’ve easily been avoided. One can never really force chemistry.
So to the men I’ve turned down — please do not take it personally, and save your poems, flowers and chocolates for a more deserving candidate.
And to the men who mysteriously disappeared and stopped calling — just as well. I get you.