L-O-V-E, love. That fickle, mercurial, elusive beast. Guardian angel to some, white whale to others. Since the dawn of time, it’s been responsible for saving the souls and dashing the hopes of countless courters in equal measure, lifting some spirits to the heavens to breathe new life into their hosts, while smashing some dreams to inglorious deaths on jagged and unforgiving rocks. How many of you recall your first crush? Or your first kiss? Or the first time you used that little L word? No matter how long ago, nor how inconsequential the participant turned out to be, odds are you remember all of these pivotal life moments with the utmost clarity, no? No? Hmm. Then maybe you weren’t doing it right. Or maybe you were high. Kids these days.
Point is, love grabs us all sooner or later. Sometimes it sticks like glue, other times it fades like a book in a sunny shop window. But if you’re living and breathing, walking and talking, browsing and carousing, it does come-a-knockin’. You silent spectators out there, feel free to chime in below with your own Valentine’s tales of love won and lost in this lifetime. I bet you’ve got some doozies. It rarely takes a seat at our tables without leaving at least a couple notches carved in the wood. Or in the heart. Let’s compare, like Quint and Hooper in that last fateful night below deck. C’mon, let those guards down and let’s hear your Mary Ellen Moffat stories, people.
Ah, I can see you smiling lovers out there now, thanking your lucky stars that the clouds parted, fortune smiled bright, and you found The One for you. You’re probably holding hands at this very moment, perhaps gazing into each other’s eyes, reminiscing on your shared magical journey that’s hopefully only just begun. But what of the lovers out there who didn’t make it to that heralded, old, white-haired finish line together? The ones who didn’t grow apart with time, whose love didn’t fade away… because one of them refused to let go…
A few of these wayward pairs come to mind, probably the easiest in modern times being The Juice, none other than the notorious Mr. Simpson, due in large part to that landmark televised trial, of which every minute detail was broadcast live into our homes in ‘95. I remember watching every day from the commissary of a film and video lab I worked in at the time, but I was also watching and listening to the people around me, taking note of their morbid fascination with – and differing reasons for – staying tuned in round the clock. No, there wasn’t a conviction (that time, anyway) but… c’mon. Suffice to say, there was a lot goin’ on in ’Murica, and to say any more would be a different article. You guys lemme know if you ever want that one.
But Orenthal James isn’t the only star-crossed psychopath to stain the headlines and news channels red with the blood of their better half. Not by a long shot. These days, sordid death is big business, no matter which side of the pond you live on, and to try and run down all the names would render this piece nothing less than a gruesomely encyclopedic ‘love’ letter. I ain’t got that kinda space. Not on the computer, nor the psyche. Indeed, famous couples – eternal easy marks for the gossip rags – have at times flamed-out in spectacular fashion, giving us a glimpse behind the curtain at some nasty goings-on in the personal lives of some of our most familiar faces. Robert Blake’s wife was shot in the head after a nice dinner with her husband, allegedly in the span of time it took him to run back inside and retrieve the gun he’d forgotten at the table. He was acquitted of the crime. Now, who knows, I didn’t follow that trial… and I’ve always been a fan of Robert Blake… but I probably wouldn’t join him for dinner, just to be safe.
Now, before this gets one-sided, let me stress that you sweet ladies aren’t always the victims of violence when love goes bad. Beloved comedian Phil Hartman ran afoul of his wife’s alcohol & drug-fueled vengeance early one morning in 1998, catching three bullets as he slept, before she turned the gun on herself. I don’t know anyone who didn’t enjoy Phil’s work. At least he was asleep, small consolation though it may be. Fans of pro wrestling were stunned (pardon the pun) in 2007, when veteran Chris Benoit was revealed as the perpetrator in the vicious murders of both his wife and 8-year-old son, after which he hung himself from a weight machine in the home’s gym. By most accounts, at least from the outside, his was a stable home and loving family. What went wrong in his head, we’ll never really know. ‘Rabid Wolverine’ indeed…
Roll the dial back now to the summer of 1980, when hair was feathered, mustaches were bold, and pubes were full… but the blood still ran deep red. We find ourselves on a seedy trip down memory lane with one of the most ill-suited couples to ever (dis)grace Hef’s Playboy mansion, the beautiful Dorothy Stratten and her dangerously obsessed husband, Paul Snider. With her career taking off at the same rapid trajectory that her lover was downward spiraling, Dorothy attempted to instigate a civil divorce. It didn’t go well, and Snider raped and murdered her. But he didn’t stop there, stripping and defiling her corpse, before turning the 12-guage shotgun on himself. Ugh. Stratten was 20. Breaking up, as they say, is hard to do.
Turning our attention now to, shall we say, ‘regular’ people, back in 2002, Scott Peterson appeared to have everything going for him. A beautiful wife, a stable career in sunny California, and a baby on the way. This is, until pieces of his murdered spouse and unborn child washed up on the rocks of San Francisco Bay. The exact cause of death remains undetermined, but Peterson’s artful dodging in the immediate aftermath made him more than a little suspicious, and after a fairly clear-cut trial, he was shipped off to San Quentin’s Death Row to think about things.
Despite this notable trail of unfortunate mayhem, the toxic combination of broken vows and obsessive love doesn’t always end in murder/suicide. Not always. Sometimes, it’s not even the desired result. Sometimes, just sending a message is enough. And some things are quite possibly worse than death. Guys, you know where I’m going with this, right? In 1993, Mrs. Lorena Bobbitt had endured enough of her philandering husband John’s wholesale abuse, and put points on the board for the silent victim’s home team, when she severed his penis with a kitchen knife and proceeded to drive off with it, throwing the member into the brush for insects and rodents to enjoy. Alas, she had a commendable pang of conscience and phoned authorities to tell them where they could find the damned thing. Following surgical reattachment, John went on to have an unremarkable career as a porn star, before thankfully fading back into obscurity. As for Lorena, I dunno. I hope she’s happy, and found a good one. (And dude, if you read this, don’t piss that woman off!)
Well, those were just a few things that can go wrong with that significant other whom you’re currently making goo-goo eyes with. Easy over there, settle down. Get a room, why don’t ya? All the fun happens behind closed doors anyway, right? And after the fireworks subside this February 14, and you’re cuddled in your loved one’s arms, rest easy. Life is good. You found each other and nothing can stop you. Go tackle the world together, it’s yours for the taking. Just maybe sleep with one eye open… you never know…
Like Mick Jagger said, “Must be love… it’s a bitch.”
Not content to let this Valentine’s Day slide without showing the one he loved how strongly he felt about her, popular South African Olympian and double amputee, Oscar Pistorius, was charged with murder this morning in the shooting death of his girlfriend, 30-year-old supermodel, Reeva Steenkamp. Police were called to Pistorius’ home in the wee hours today, where they discovered Ms. Steenkamp dead from multiple gunshot wounds. What was first portrayed by the media as accidental (Oscar was a known gun enthusiast and early speculation pegged the death as accidental, the unfortunate result of a mistaken home invasion) soon took a more sinister turn as events came into clearer focus. Prior domestic disturbances at the home, apparently well-known as a powder keg by police, were but one lesser-known fact that led authorities to take a closer look. Once they did, Oscar was formally charged and carted off to a jail cell. One that presumably contains neither firearms nor supermodels. Because some things just don’t mix. As O.J. showed us, one never knows how a trial will shake out, but it looks from here like Pistorius won’t have a leg to stand on when he gets his day in court.