I bet you thought I would write about Love Actually for this Film of the Week installation because I’ve just returned from London and news recently broke of a 10-minute revival of the film due this spring. However, I felt so inspired by my stroll down Portobello Road last week that I decided to write about what is widely regarded as the ultimate Rom-Com: Notting Hill.
Notting Hill focuses on a shy, witty, glasses-wearing Hugh Grant, who owns a travel book store in Central London. In walks Julia Roberts, a confident actress with a winning smile. After a second serendipitous meeting where Hugh spills OJ on Julia, the two begin to fall for each other. But how can a beloved, world-famous actress fall for a common Joe, you ask? Maybe when he’s none other than the charming and clever HUGH GRANT.
In my opinion, 1990s Hugh Grant is iconic. His feathery hair and circular glasses make him nerdy and likable and his not completely buttoned, button-downs are downright sexy. No matter how famous an actress Julia was, she did not deserve the soft-spoken bookshop owner that was Hugh Grant in Notting Hill.
Julia’s first mistake was inviting Hugh to her hotel room when she was hosting over a dozen journalists for a press junket and poor Hugh reacted in the most gentlemanly way possible, pretending to be a writer for Horse & Hound. Then, she lied about having a boyfriend. Yes, JULIA WAS CHEATING ON HER BOYFRIEND WITH HUGH. No matter how much you like someone, there is no excuse for not being upfront about your relationship status. And in a truly heartbreaking twist towards the end of the movie, Julia tells a co-worker that Hugh is some simpleton that just showed up on her movie set. HUGH GRANT DOES NOT DESERVE THIS TREATMENT.
I suppose we all love a good love story where the two leads end up together after a series of ups and downs. Julia did have her endearing moments, like when she accompanied Hugh to dinner with his friends. Because this is a Rom-Com, we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.
To be fair, haven’t we all acted in a way we’re not proud of while in a relationship? I’d have to say I exhibited my worst relationship behavior with a man I will call Mr. Honey (taking a note from Katy Perry’s character on How I Met Your Mother, who’s actions often elicit the response: aww, honey). I met Mr. Honey on OKCupid my first winter in Boston. He can best be described as looking like a Seventh Heaven cast member and earned a living as a Civil Engineer.
For our first date, I suggested we meet at the Boston Common Tree Lighting Spectacular. I’m not sure why I thought meeting a man for the first time amid a crowd of spirited Bostonians was a smart plan. Adding to the number of people crowding the Common was a Black Lives Matter protest, making the task of finding a complete stranger I met on the internet difficult at best. After about a half hour of sending messages trying to locate each other, we finally arrived at the same location and made our way to the haphazardly decorated Halifax tree. Mr. Honey was attractive and polite and we eventually migrated to 21st Amendment to get to know each other better.
After our first date, Mr. Honey and I went on a series of outings, but I never felt like we were able to get past a superficial level of conversation. We didn’t share any interests, differing even in our restaurant opinions. Most of all, we lacked any real spark or connection drawing me into the relationship. He wasn’t the person I wanted to text with good news or curl up on a Friday night with. Deep down I knew the relationship wasn’t going to work out, but I kept avoiding the inevitable it’s not you, it’s me conversation. So instead, I gave him a string of excuses every time he asked me out.
THEN CAME VALENTINE’S DAY. This is where I sincerely regret my behavior. I didn’t want to break-up with Mr. Honey too close to the holiday so I planned on giving him the axe after the fact and told him I don’t believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day (which is a complete lie). However, because Mr. Honey was a gentleman, he had a dozen roses sent to my apartment in the middle of a blizzard.
To make matters worse, later in the day he told me that his childhood dog passed away and he was devastated. I was unsure how to proceed with the situation so I sent him a text saying that I didn’t feel a connection between us and wishing him the best. He handled the rejection gracefully, saying he understood my decision and bidding farewell to Cranberry. I don’t regret breaking up with Mr. Honey, but I do regret the timing and execution of the split.
I suppose we all have a bit of Julia in us. Real life is too messy for anyone to be a true Rom-Com heroine. But can you blame me for holding fictional characters to a higher standard?