River Me This

Thesedays, my precious darlings, dating runs in two rivers.

The first river is the old-fashioned kind, a river like, say, the Colorado. It starts in the Rocky Mountains as snow-melt and spring bubbler, gradually turning into Lake Mead by way of the Grand Canyon. Eventually it keeps LA alive…a dubious prospect but nonetheless the fact of 1,400 miles of downhill adventure.

The second river is newer, much shorter and without any of the history or variety. It would be like a glacial river in Iceland: short, sharp and to the point. A thoroughly modern river. A great ride.

You can see where I’m meandering to with this metaphor. Long-form relationships and their precursors – by which I mean formal dating and marriage – are like the Colorado. Although the flow might start with a rush, time and terrain change the river’s direction and temperament. Dams create reservoirs and calm, but also tail water and froth. Flat land slows the river down, and steep terrain does the opposite. Rocks make rapids. And eventually it turns out that we have to give it all to Hollywood…but it was one helluva ride.

Our Icelandic river is more of a day-trip flow. Anyone can hop on for the short ride, all we need do is hold hands and jump in together. It’ll be fun and breathless for a while, then the ride ends. You can start back at the top again (because it’s only a short hike) with or without the same partner. It’s an amusement park outing.

Trouble arises (because you knew there had to be a downside) when one or other of the participants in the River Party forget which ride they signed up for. I see this when women think they are in the Icelandic way of things, but as soon as they get wet decide they need the guy to be more of a riverboat captain. The guy who thought he was in for nothing more than a quickie, or multiple quickies in a row, suddenly finds himself being expected to pitch riverbank tents and create fires and text “good morning” every day.

Huh? I thought that by her active participation as an equal that Icelandic Rules applied here, not Red River Rules. There are no tents in Iceland; we go to the bar, drink, and decide in the morning if we want to go swimming again.

That’s it. Unless you want to try the Colorado. That changes everything.

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