BEWARE OF LOVEBy George Mikes
By means of posters, advertisements, lectures, and serious scientific books, people are taughthow to avoid or cure flu, smallpox, a broken ankle or mumps; at the same time the major partof the world’s literature (which is not to be confused with world literature), almost all thefilms, magazine stories, and radio plays persuade you in an indirect way to catch a muchmore dangerous disease than any illness, universally know under the name of love.The main symptoms of the disease are these:1)
The germ - a charming young lady in some cases, and not so charming and not soyoung in others –makes the silliest and most common place remarks and you considerher wittier than Oscar Wilde, deeper than Pascal and more original than BernardShow.2)
She calls you “Pootsie”, “Angelface” and other stupid and humiliating names; you areenchanted and coo with delight.3)
She has no idea what is the difference between UNESCO and LCC, and you find thisdisarmingly innocent.4)
Whenever she flits with other and is rude and cruel to you, you buy her a bunch of flowers and apologize to her. If she misbehaves seriously, you buy her jewelry.The overwhelming majority of novels, short stories, films, etc. teach you that this dangerousmental and physical ailment is something glorious, desirable and romantic. Who are you toquestion the wisdom of this teaching? You are expected to take the lesson of these highauthorities to heart and believe that the world is mostly inhabited by lovers who commitmurders and murderers who fall in love.The least intelligible thing of all is the fact that love is constantly confused with marriage.Even if you accept the thesis that love is all-right because it is a “natural thing”, we should, Ithink, insist that love should be kept out of marriage. You are supposed to choose you futurespouse when you are absolutely incapable of so doing. You have to choose her or him whenyou are in love, i.e. when you think silliness wisdom, affectation real charm, selfishness agood joke and a pretty face the most desirable of all human attributes. You would never senda deaf man to buy you gramophone records, a blind man to buy you paintings, and anilliterate man to buy you books; but you are expected to choose the person whom you aregoing to hear more than your favourite records, see oftener than your favourite paintings andwhose remarks will be more familiar to you than the pages of your most treasured book – in astate of deafness, blindness and illiteracy. You may be fortunate: there are a great number of good pictures, records and books around, and even the deaf, blind and illiterate may make a
(1912–1987) (pronounced Mik-esh) was aHungarian-bornBritishauthor most famous for his
humorous commentaries on various countries.