It’s amore: The gestures of love

Latvian’s Regina and Vadim Medvedev from Riga, on honeymoon in Paris, pose for a selfie on the Pont de l’Archeveche in Paris next to a giant sticker in Paris, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Paris is hoping to persuade visiting couples to end the recent and unwelcome tradition of fixing padlocks to the Pont de l’Archeveche. With giant stickers in three languages in French, English and Spanish. Paris began its ‘Lovewithoutlocks’ campaign, saying the city’s famed bridge could not withstand the thousands of padlocks that cling to every available surface. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Oh, the eternal weight of love — the swoons and devotion, the drama and sighs, the euphoria and imperfection. The locks and keys. The crumbling bridges.

Yes, chunks of actual bridges, falling into the river. Not figuratively, but literally.

Because of a tradition that has grown hugely since it began in 2008, in which love-struck couples attach locks bearing their names to Paris bridges and then throw the keys in the River Seine, Parisian bridges are feeling the effects of love. In June, a portion of the footbridge on the Pont des Arts bridge crumbled under the weight of the locks, which cover the railings of its entire 508-foot length.

Other Paris bridges are groaning under the weight of locks as well. So on Monday, Parisian officials began a campaign to stop the practice. They issued a call for lovers to instead take selfies on Paris bridges and post them to Twitter with the hashtag #lovewithoutlocks. And on Wednesday, they began posting heart-shaped signs on bridges around Paris with the message, “Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love, no more love locks.”

It would be cynical to call the love locks ill-advised, but they certainly are gestures of love with unforeseen consequences. They bring to mind other acts or tokens of love that might seem like a swell idea at the time, but prove to be not such a great idea after all.

Like the selfie option being presented by Parisian officials, other gestures of love need go-to alternatives, including:

GESTURE OF LOVE: Carving your initials in the bark of a tree

Oh, this may seem like the ultimate act of impulsive, cheek-pinching sweetness, but it essentially is giving a tree the future tattoo nightmare it didn’t ask for in the first place. Bark, you see, is the tree’s skin. It protects the inner layer of phloem, the tissue that transports nutrients. So, with enough arrow-pierced hearts encompassing lovers’ initials carved into the bark, the tree may end up feeling like it’s never quite full. And that’s the worst.

Plus, aspen seem to be the regional tree of choice for carving initials, and the result is visible until the tree keels over dead. That’s a long legacy for romances that may not even work out.

ALTERNATIVE: Make like a middle schooler and write on each other’s hands! Remember that phase? When you ignored the dire playground warnings about “ink poisoning” and wrote all over each other with BiC pens? Go ahead and draw that arrow-pierced heart encompassing your initials, except draw it on a canvas of skin. GoJo exists in the world, so no worries, it’ll come off, clearing the skin for other artistic tokens of love.

GESTURE OF LOVE: Getting a tattoo

Wow, is this a commitment. Getting your beloved’s name or image tattooed anywhere on your body is a declaration that the relationship will last forever ‘n ever. And if you’ve ever made the mistake of asking the moody guy at the VFW who Bobbi is — what with her name being so prominent on his forearm and all — you’ll know that this isn’t always the case. Relationships, unfortunately, end sometimes, even though the tattoo remains. And getting them removed hurts.

Plus, as any avid viewer of Spike TV’s “Tattoo Nightmares” knows, having someone else’s name tattooed on you can definitely put a damper on new relationships.

ALTERNATIVE: Oh, go ahead and get a tattoo, just nothing that involves names or actual faces. In fact, lean heavily on symbolism, so that if the relationship goes south, you can later explain that the Tardis tattoo is not because you and your ex watched 15 seasons of “Doctor Who” together, but because you’ve always dreamed of other times and places. You can save a lot of face that way.

GESTURE OF LOVE: A quickie Vegas wedding

If there’s one thing Las Vegas is known for, it’s emotional disinhibition. Whether that’s caused by booze, adrenaline, hormones or pheromones — or some mystifying combination of them — Vegas is the place where questionable decisions are made. So, pay $60 to the clerk at a Clark County Marriage Bureau location (no longer open 24 hours a day, unfortunately).

But you do know that the issuance of marriage licenses is a matter of public record, right? And if you ever decide to run for public office, say, or accept a job as president of a prestigious university, some reporter is going to be able to dig that up.

ALTERNATIVE: First, eat dinner at the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio. Then, see if you can get tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio. If you can’t, just watch the fountains for a while. After that, tease each other for at least 15 minutes about going to see “Thunder from Down Under,” but end up shopping at Caesar’s Palace. After that, meet a few friendly Swedes who are staying at the Sin City Hostel and eat hot dogs with them, which they will call “sausages.” It will almost be time for the breakfast buffet at the Paris Las Vegas by that point.

Then, it should be time to go home, without impulsively having gotten married.


GESTURE OF LOVE: Immediate change of relationship status on Facebook

The first blush of love: There’s nothing like it. You want to buy a megaphone and shout the news to everyone in the whole world. It’s tremendous! It’s beautiful! You’ve never felt this way before! You practically dislocate your fingers in your haste to change your status to “In a relationship.” The likes and multi-exclamation-mark comments pile up on your timeline.

But then it doesn’t work out. Back to “single,” and the frowny faces that your Facebook friends offer as consolation. Then you meet someone new! You’ve never felt this way before! You’re happily “In a relationship.” But then…

A pattern emerges. Eyebrows are raised behind your back.

ALTERNATIVE: Is “It’s complicated” still an option, status-wise? Just leave it at that. Sure, you’ll come across like a pretentious butthead who’s trying to craft an image of Great and Troubled Depth, but hey, it beats the “schizo” label, right?


GESTURE OF LOVE: Participating in couple-centric Twitter or Instagram trends

Case in point: the #aftersex selfie trend on Instagram. Folks. Folks. In this age of omni-share, let us embrace the almost quaint notion that some things truly are private. And it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that post-coital bliss is one of those things.

But beyond any sexytimes trends, there are the ones that involve couples gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes from unique angles and with the benefit of at least four Instagram filters. That one’s a doozy. Or how about photos of couples living Their Perfect Lives, shared to all? Or Tweeting cutesy-pie stories about “my hunny”?

Listen: All that does is make your followers roll their eyes so hard that they end up requiring medical attention. Not to mention all the barfing noises and mean, falsetto-voiced impersonations along the lines of, “Oooh, look at me, my hunny’s so perfect even though I know for a fact he’s currently wearing a pair of my best Victoria’s Secret.”

ALTERNATIVE: Tell your hunny “I love you.” Heck, tap it in Morse code, write it in toothpaste on the bathroom mirror, spell it in cookie dough for the best dessert ever. Just do it in private.


GESTURE OF LOVE: Going on a reality show

Let us turn to 17th century Spanish poet Pedro Calderón de la Barca, who wrote that, “When love is not madness, it is not love.” Uhh, OK there, fella. You’re certainly not wrong if the couples on reality shows are any indication. They unfailingly come across as bat-you-know-what crazy, humanity-dooming stupid or, from the looks of them, like they don’t smell very good.

Even couples that seem as though they actually like each other — Coco and Ice-T, maybe, or the Duggars — still engender suspicion and accusations of fame whoring.

ALTERNATIVE: Using your cellphone or an actual video camera, record hours and hours of footage of each other in every mien and mood — doing the dishes, sleeping like a baby, fixing the laundry room shelves, reading the newspaper. Record it all. Then accidentally delete most of it. Rend your clothes and beat your breast in agony over this technological misstep, then get over it. You’ll be fine.


GESTURE OF LOVE: Anything done drunkenly

So, there’s this text: “Baby. Babbbbyyyyy. Are you up? Come over.” And then there’s the booze-fueled re-enactment of that boom box scene from “Say Anything.” And let’s not forget the staggering attempts at smooches, the blubbering “I juh-uh-uhst luh-huh-huvvvv you soooooo muuuuuucchhhhh” and any body modification (see: ill-advised tattoos).

This is not love. It’s sloppy, is what it is.

ALTERNATIVE: How about… don’t drink too much! Stay sharp, say “I love you,” mean it. And that’s all that needs to be said.


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