As I was rushing through Grand Central Terminal to catch my train, I almost collided with a young couple standing in the middle of the station and staring into each other’s eyes with the fervor of two whimpering puppy dogs.
They might as well have planted themselves in the center lane of I95 at rush hour, as they looked lovingly, longingly, almost hypnotically at each other like star-struck teenagers on their first date. They were making what was once known as “goo goo eyes.”
Lordy, it’s nice to be able to spend your time lost in love while commuters are stampeding all around you, trying to get home. I wanted to plow into them, but then reason, or maybe it was empathy, prevailed so I detoured around them and blessed their romantic pursuits. (It may have been envy.)
That night while I was cleaning off the dinner table, I innocently asked my wife, “Did you ever stare into my eyes like a lovesick 16-year-old?” If she did, I don’t remember, and neither could she. I tried making goo goo eyes, but she just kept washing dishes. Forget that idea.
When she makes loving eye contact, it often means she wants something. There’s an ulterior motive and after a few moments of uncharacteristic flirtatious eye activity, she’ll say something like “Do you think you could paint the bathroom?” Or “Could you take my car for an oil change?”
Nevertheless, we must have engaged in that romantic ocular behavior in the past because I see evidence of it in our wedding photos, especially the poses the photographer arranged, where we’re staring at each other through a champagne glass as if we’re intoxicated by love. I honestly can’t imagine normal people behaving like that.
When I arrived at work Monday morning, the young office manager clocked me in, and I noticed a wedding photo on her desk…deja vu all over again: It was unmistakably, undeniably, unabashedly, a case of goo goo eyes. She and her husband-in-training were transfixed, staring at each other. She was gorgeous in her wedding gown and he was elegant in his tuxedo as they held hands and looked longingly into each other’s eyes like Romeo and Juliet on their first date at Starbucks.
“Did the photographer ask you to behave like that?” I asked. She laughed and said, “No, it came naturally.”
I guess I’m just a hardened cynic from a lost generation. If that photo wasn’t enough to set me off, she proceeded to show me her entire collection of goo goo eyes photos where the two of them were smiling adoringly and intensely at each other in front of the church, on a Caribbean beach, at a tiki bar and other places where young people make flirtatious eye contact with what old-timers used to call a “come hither look.”
Am I jealous? Am I member of a disgruntled generation that grumbles about steamy behavior in train stations and public displays of affection on street corners? I’m not sure, but I know one thing. The divorce rate hovers around 50 percent so despite all the goo goo eyes, something’s wrong.
That lustful, loving stare won’t ensure your marriage or relationship will last. Celebrities are always making goo goo eyes on camera and off, probably with three or four different people in the same night and we all know how troubled their relationships are.
I suspect that commitment requires more than eye contact. It requires a willingness to sacrifice for the other person at the expense of yourself, although as soon as I hear that word “sacrifice,” my knees shake. Making eye contact is a lot easier.
That night I tried again. I asked my wife if we could make goo goo eyes. She looked at me like I just escaped from a high-security facility for the romantically insane. I felt like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” desperately asking his wife, “Do you love me? BUT DO YOU LOVE ME?”
Hearing “I love you” isn’t enough! Prove it! Make goo goo eyes!
For what it’s worth, the dog makes goo goo eyes with me. When I talk to her, she cocks her head and stares lovingly at me…at least until she gets a treat and then it’s back to business as usual.