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Can't hardly date

By Rebecca Missel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 29, 1999
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Ian C. Mayer
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Rebecca Missel

It was another Saturday night in the residence hall, and rather than forfeit more brain cells to the hypnotic power of Zelda for N64, my friends and I decided to venture outside our rooms to the local video store. After some minor squabbling, we chose Jennifer Love Hewitt's most intelligent work since her days on "Kids Incorporated," the teen flick, "Can't Hardly Wait."

In one scene, a stripper, dressed as an angel, imparts a big dose of clarity to a lovestruck Ethan Embry (a.k.a. Preston). She tells him that "there is fate, but it only takes you so far because once you're there, it's up to you to make it happen."

Granted, the stripper was speaking of a botched attempt at proving her undying love for Scott Baio, but it got me thinking about the subject. Does fate actually exist in our own daily lives, or is it just a clever plot device created to give us a glimmer of hope while Hollywood film executives rob us of another seven bucks?

Personally, I sincerely doubt that some old, white-bearded guy, or any other deity, calls all the shots from his puffy cloud on high. While some humans are rather lacking in common sense, we all have the capability for free will. Yet, too often, we allow the potentially erroneous notion of fate to excuse our own inaction.

One area of our lives in which we most frequently relinquish control is in the affairs of love. In junior high (and maybe even last week), we asked the Magic 8 Ball if that cute guy/girl in chemistry class had a crush on us too. And when our answer emerged from the mysterious blue liquid, we always yearned for the "it is decidedly so" message rather than the ominous, "reply hazy, ask again."

Across years and decades of dating we search for a "soulmate," hoping for a chance encounter but rarely actively seeking a person with whom we can share our innermost feelings. We assume that a shared preference for a particular song or an ice cream flavor somehow reveals a divine plan of destiny. However, when we lose a lover, rather than admitting to possible problems in communication, different goals, or infidelity, we pardon ourselves by simply stating, "It wasn't meant to be."

To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes a song is just a song, but for the enamored protagonist in "Can't Hardly Wait," Barry Manilow's "Mandy" becomes a portentous melody, since his beloved's name is Amanda (close enough). Throughout the film, Preston takes all necessary action to win her affections, confident that it's their "destiny" to be together.

So does boy get girl? What do you think? This is Hollywood, after all. But in real life, this "fate" some people talk about so much can be more of a hindrance than a boon. "If something was going to happen, it would have already happened," your potential soulmate could say, but that's just another way of denying the fact that our lives, and the choices we make, are, for the most part, very much within our control.

Rebecca Missel is a freshman pursuing a degree in journalism, unless fate decrees otherwise.