I was engaged in a discussion the other day and the question found itself in the midst of the conversation. What is a lover?
That feeling hit me. You know when you meet someone face to face, a person you've spoken to and got to know quite well over the phone or perhaps by email. Then you meet and, if you're like me, you think to yourself
"Fucking hell, she looks nothing like I'd imagined"
Yet you hadn't built up any kind of conscious mental image in your head before the meeting. You hadn't thought that she would have blonde hair and a bum like two cats in a bag. You hadn't thought that he'd be the spitting image of Ranil Wickremesinghe only with a beard and bad acne. No, you thought that you had no preconceived notions, but on meeting the meetee, you were shocked and surprised anyway.
The feeling hit me because the definition of a lover is something I've never pondered on before, it's always existed in the back of my mind, whenever I've read the word I've understood it and carried on with life. But, all of a sudden I was sitting there and scratching my chin, wondering exactly what a lover is.
Of course it's not a word used much in everyday conversation now anyway. I can't think of many people who I can imagine saying the word. There are a few oldish Aunts who I can picture telling another oldish Aunt about two of their younger contacts who
"Used to be lovers you know"
But that's about it. It's an old fashioned word mostly bandied about in films and in print.
To me it implies a sexual relationship that was more than a one night stand. Although it's not wrong to describe two people who once had a one night stand as "ex lovers", it's also not quite right.
It also doesn't seem to apply to a married couple, even though a married couple are usually lovers too, which could open up another discussion altogether. I can't picture a husband introducing his wife to someone and labelling her as his lover. The French use of the word, or rather the British image of the French use, throws up images of a French fellow, married to some average looking middle aged woman and having a glamorous and sexy girlfriend on the side. She'd live in a plush apartment overlooking the Seine and the chap would be her only partner.
A relationship with sex, of an ongoing sort.
Black and white people in old films would have been labelled as lovers too, as would the actors who played the people. Marilyn Monroe and JKF were lovers, Antony and Cleopatra were lovers and even Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan were lovers. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were lovers for sure, but had they both been alive and married to each other now I don't think many would label them as lovers.
Whenever I hear the words "to take a lover" my mind conjurs up slightly romantic and sexy visions of a glamorous older woman deciding to "take a lover" rather like picking out a new pair of shoes or a postcard from a rack. As a younger and far more virile man it was perfectly normal for me to think along those lines but now I'm the age of the older women and still coming to terms with my loss. I'm told that many men go through this sort of phase in their life and deal with it by buying a Harley Davidson or joining a band or something. You wouldn't catch me doing that kind of thing!
But to "take a lover" gives me that older woman image. The woman would pick out some sort of stud, then use and abuse him on a regular basis. There'd be no mental connection, just ongoing physical stuff, very possibly with her paying him money or "keeping" him. It's hard to see why many young men would be attracted to this sort of thing isn't it.
What do you think? Is the word "lover" an old fashioned one that no one uses anymore? Would you describe your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife as your lover? Or is it only the French who have lovers?