In Life, As In Tennis, Love Means Nothing

In my last entry about Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, a novel about the Old West, I made the observation that love and romance make up a big part of the book’s exploration of human nature.

Women were rather scarce in the Old West, as we know, so most of the female characters we meet are prostitutes, or wives, or both.

But in so many instances we see men who are ardently, devotedly in love with a woman to whom that love means absolutely nothing.

Arkansas sheriff July Johnson adores his wife Elmira, but she can’t stand to see his face, and she, in turn, adores Dee Boot, who cares nothing for her, which becomes a moot point because they hang him.

Rather than return to July, Elmira takes off with some muleskinners and gets killed by the Kiowas.

But July Johnson is a doofus and it’s hard to care about him. More to the point is Dish Blodgett, who’s in love with Lorena Wood. Dish is a top hand, and no idiot. But Lorena, as the saying goes, pays him no mind. She loves only Gus, who rescued her from Blue Duck, and Gus is dead.

I have a friend who asked me to come meet his “friend” in Greenfield, a bartender who served us our drinks and went back to to other end of the bar. She didn’t even know his name. He adored her. I asked him if there was a woman who adored him. There was, he said, “but I can’t stand her.”

I loved my girlfiend in college to the point of adoration, and I had no understanding of how utterly pointless this was, and how little it contributed to her happiness. Of course she dumped me — twice!

Take my advice, young men: adoration, though it seems all-consuming to you, means absolutely nothing to anyone else, particularly the one you adore. Nothing. If you love someone, do something that shows you can make their life happier.

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