The improbable swan

Or: Why we should lug around a string quartet in case of a romantic moment.

Last night, I watched Funny Face, starring Audrey Hepburn as a mousy bookseller turned model and Fred Astaire as the fashion photographer responsible for her makeover and fame. Though they spend much of the movie sparring about their disparate interests, they (oh so predictably) fall in love and perform some perfectly choreographed dances to display their love. Dancing is the only reason to fall for Fred Astaire, after all (especially since he’s almost 60 in this movie, and Audrey is definitely not).

The scene where Fred and Audrey first admit their love is as picture-perfect as Hollywood could make it. They are in Paris (of course), shooting a picture of Audrey in a beautiful wedding dress on the grounds of Versailles in front of what seems to be the most adorable church ever built. The sky is blue, the flowers are blooming, the stream is gurgling and suddenly the scene becomes gauzy and glowing with a dreamy, romantic light.

And, just as the music swells, a swan swims past.

It can’t be more perfect. First one swan, right when Fred and Audrey kiss. Then, when they hop on a small raft and are propelled neatly across the stream (in real life, they would suddenly be very cold and wet and the mood would be ruined), two more swans swim by. Evenly spaced. (I can just imagine the swan wrangler standing just off screen beckoning the well-trained birds with swan pellets or whatever swans like to eat.)

Seeing such a perfectly-choreographed moment can be disheartening – after all, real life is often devoid of swans and music cued to come in at just the right moment. But rather than accept the seemingly charming imperfection of a bumped-noses kiss or the awkward after-the-first-date hug, why not manipulate the situation to create a Hollywood-approved vision of romance?

Given the current economic circumstances, it isn’t a big stretch to assume that many a violin player is looking for a way to make a few extra bucks. Spicing up a mundane dinner and a movie date with your own personal violinist is a great way to add atmosphere and cue your date to musically-appropriate behavior. If you don’t want to be constantly followed by a violin, setting your phone’s ringtone to a romantic, Korngold-approved tune and playing it whenever the mood is right (or should be right) works as well.

Swans can be temperamental, but their ability to transform any moment into Hollywood magic means they are worth the effort. Besides, little yapping purse dogs are cliche and annoying. A swan is a much more unusual and useful pet, especially if you have romance in mind. And don’t worry about them honking and ruining the moment. In Hollywood romance, swans never honk, couples precariously balanced on rickety rafts never fall in the water and no one trods on his/her partner’s toe while dancing. All it takes is plenty of rehearsal, and if hours of work aren’t worth it for the perfect moment, then I don’t know what is.


1 Comment

Filed under Philosophizing

One response to “The improbable swan

  1. Ivy

    100% true story: My college roommate got engaged yesterday on a beach at sunset…and two swans swam by right as it was happening. Maybe they’d just seen Funny Face and were inspired by their fellow bird 🙂

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