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This Life She's Chosen

by David Levinson
February 27, 2006
This Life She's Chosen
On the hit TV show, "Desperate Housewives," Gabrielle Solis has an affair with her gardener, John, a muscular, handsome seventeen-year-old high school boy. Stunning, passionate Gabrielle looks to John for excitement and escape from her dull, suburban life, her marriage to her husband, Carlos, having reached some untenable plateau. Though she's gotten everything she's ever wanted - a beautiful home, a devoted (if not jealous) husband, and plenty of leisure time to enjoy what many would see as ideal - Gabrielle's dissatisfaction continues to mount, until at one point she says, "Sometimes, I think I wanted the wrong things." This, of course, includes John, who's grown more and more attached to Gabrielle over time, an otherwise healthy response were it not for certain major obstacle, like his inexperience and her egotism.

Clearly, this type of illicit amour happens every single day. We hear about it on the news and read about it in the papers. As it should be, laws honor the younger and reproach the older for taking advantage of such innocence, even if the attraction is mutual and consensual. Desire, however, is irrational and has nothing built into it to safeguard against such entanglements. On the outside, it is easy to condemn Gabrielle for her transgression, for leading the boy on. Yet, where the heart leads us, we will surely follow and usually to our own detriment.

Though vast differences in ages aren't necessarily deal-breakers, differences in the levels of emotional maturity are. It is not surprising then that the roles are flipped, that Gabrielle acts like the teenager and John the adult. For all of her worldliness, Gabrielle's character is set up to behave with selfish abandon and she does, taking whatever she can from John whenever she can get it. This is less an uncommon situation than a tragic one, especially when John ends up falling in love. As it is set up, the lines are clearly drawn - John will never get what he wants from the adulterous Gabrielle and Gabrielle will never be able to give John what he needs. Rather than confront the life she's chosen, Gabrielle uses John for her own pleasure, a way to tamp down the numbing pain of a loveless marriage.

Sadly, people like Gabrielle Solis exist, on TV and in the real world; and it is up to you to spot them - and ultimately run the other way. Many people come with gorgeous pedigrees - ivy-league degrees, MBA's and PhD's and LLD's, expensive tastes, cultivated minds, glib tongues, beautiful apartments, hard bodies, disposable income. And while these people look excellent on paper, if they cannot offer anything but these things, these mere trappings, either they are as empty as the fancy rooms in their fancy homes.

The worth of any relationship can't be based solely on diamond rings and new appliances, but must rely on mutual respect and appreciation, qualities without price tags and receipts. Ultimately, if you're not getting what you want, in bed or in love, then you've got to determine if the objects you wake up to are more important than the person you go to bed with. Do not be fooled by material comfort, like Gabrielle, or by the sleight-of-hand seduction, like John. If you do, you might find yourself wondering how you ended up without a heart that never quite belonged to you to in the first place.

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Author:David Levinson
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"David Levinson is a young writer who has mastered all the elements that make up a classically structured short story: drama, suspense, humor, empathy. There are no fancy pyrotechnics or meta-fictional devices here. He's a neo-traditionalist so the stories are direct, emotional and compulsively readable, plus there's enough mystery and action in them to propel at least a dozen novels."<br>Bret Easton Ellis