Just Desserts

Having spent a rainy weekend watching Disney-esque movies with the kids, I have to wonder at our insistence on happy endings. Movies, books, TV ... and not just works for children. That I can understand - we want to give our children some sense that the world is a fair and reasonable place, that good deeds get rewarded and the bad guys always get caught in the end. Otherwise, what's the point in playing by the rules and eating your vegetables?

But why do we adults need the same fantasy in our fiction? With very few exceptions, the guy always gets the girl, the villains are hoist on their own petard, and everybody lives happily ever after (except the hoisted bad guys, obviously). But real life isn't that neat and tidy. Even if the guy gets the girl, he's still going to have to deal with mortgage payments and credit car balances, flat tires on rainy days, aging parents, sick children in the middle of the night ... which is not to say such a life is without joy. I love my life, warts and all. But it sure doesn't resemble the Hollywood version.

I know movies and novels are escapist, and all those happy endings are supposed to give us hope, to convince us that we, too, can get through the tough times and look forward to a sunnier tomorrow. But am I the only one who sometimes feels inadequate because my happy ending is occasionally rough around the edges?

I've always been a good girl, relatively speaking, played nicely with others, followed the rules. And, like the movie version, fell in love and married the wrong guy. Not terribly wrong, and if we'd both been slightly different people it might even have worked out. But it didn't, and I suffered through rejection by a loved one, found myself a stronger person after, then met the man of my dreams, the love of my life. I am happier than I ever imagined I could be with him - all very Hollywood indeed.


I still have dishes to wash, feverish children to comfort, an aging dog about whom I am going to have to make an unpleasant decision in the foreseeable future, more bills to pay than money to pay them with.

And I'm perfectly OK with that - I love my life, my man, my children. I wouldn't change a thing (except maybe the money part. But I can handle it). But I wonder why so much of our entertainment makes my life look like the 'Before' picture, instead of the 'Happily Ever After' ending. Has anybody ever really ridden off into the sunset?