It was on the battlefield outside of Troy, amid swarms of warriors hacking away at each other, that Achilles had a dramatic one-on-one death match. No, not the famed battle in which he slaughters the Trojan hero Hector. His victim that day was Penthesilia, queen of the female Amazon warriors. And right after the poorly heeled warrior ran her through, he fell in love with her dead body.
Necrophilic impulses aside, Achilles' timing was less-than-stellar. Or maybe not. Consider the perspective of D. Zilla, the handsome, six-foot-four Japanese bartender at Geronimo's Casual Gourmet Grill & Bar (3528 S. University Dr., Davie).
"Yes, I have been in love," D. Zilla says, "and it sucks."
Why? I ask.
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"It was an abusive relationship."
Is being in love necessarily abusive?
"Not if you catch it in time," he says wisely, "but we didn't."
Across the bar, past the football games on television screens and clusters of co-eds drinking beer, sits 23-year-old Amber, a woman with thin eyebrows and fine clumps of black hair framing her round face. She and friend Shannon are taking shots "to antirelationships," she says. Appropriately, the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" resonates through the bar.
"It seems to us that there are a lot more cons than pros [to love]," Amber informs me.
"Jealousy for one. Arguing is the worst one. Miscommunication. I can't think right now because I'm buzzed. Oh, and the thin line between love and hate. I don't want to come home after a day of work and argue. You say black; I say white."
Have you ever been in love?
"I've never been in full-blown love," she says.
How do you know?
"I figure if I had been, I would know it. This one guy, I was obsessed with 'What is he doing?' 'What is he thinking?' but if I had him, I wouldn't want him. I still have some hope that I will be in love, but I don't see it happening for me."
In walks Jenna, a thin woman with short, curly, black hair, next to a gangly redheaded man named Nick.
Amber says, "You should talk to her."
Jenna is a direct woman who says she grew up in the ghetto and pulled herself out by working in retail. "I used to weigh 300 pounds," she says. "Even then, I'd walk into a club like I owned it."
Have you ever been in love?
"Once when I was 15. I was in a five-year relationship. Between now and then, I just wanted to have fun."
Thinking back to Amber's list of relationship cons, I ask her why she wanted to break away and party.
"We were supposed to get married," Jenna says. "He went to jail for murder. I told you I was from the ghetto." That's not exactly what I meant by con, but all right.
"I'm kind of in love right now," she confesses, alluding to Nick, whom she came in with. "He's a dork. He's great. He's real, but he's not a one-woman man."
She directs my attention across the bar, where Nick stands talking to a pretty blond woman in a baseball cap. "Look at him checking her out. I'm over it. Look at him pinching her. I'm 27. I'm over it. I'm so over it."
The Geronimo's consensus of relationship abuse, hopeless hopes, and jealousy leads me to conclude one thing: Love sucks. And yet, good times abound amid cold shots, Heineken drafts, and sweet tunes on the jukebox.
The next night, a Monday, I take the topic to the chain bar and restaurant Quarterdeck Seafood Bar and Neighborhood Grill (3155 S. University Dr., Davie). I approach a scroungy crew of young men sitting on stools talking on the bar's outdoor patio.
I ask the youngsters not to laugh at me for the four-letter word I'm about to introduce.
"What, fuck?" asks EJ, a 23-year-old in a Fat Albert FUBU shirt.
"Train?" asks Mike Oxbig, a 22-year-old in an all-white Nike Air getup and white Yankees baseball cap. "Wait, that has five letters."
"No, love," I say to an audience of huffs and rolling eyes.
Oxbig comes at me with, "Get a couple of friends. I'll quote you on love."
EJ replies, "Don't fall in love 'cause girls are grimy. Straight up. The reason guys don't trust girls is 'cause they're lying-ass bitches."
Another guy, who wants to be called No Name, adds: "A chick never gives you a straight answer the first time."
Oxbig says he'll never fall in love, "Unless you're Alicia Keys. I'd marry that bitch with one leg, one arm, and a black eye. I'll hold that bitch up in the air," he says, raising an arm and humping.
I ask EJ if he's ever been in love and, if so, how he knew it.
"In love is when you'll do whatever. I just know I wouldn't do it again. I was with a girl from when I was 15 to 19, and it didn't work out. I thought I was tired of her, but I wasn't."
Oxbig cuts the clarity with, "I know I got a big dick. That's all that matters. I got a picture if you want." He pulls out his cell phone and shows me a video of a girl giving oral sex. "And she was a soldier," he added. "I was at a Trick Daddy and Lil' Jon show, and my girlfriend started dancing with some guy. So I end up at Café Iguana (17 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) with this chick, and she says she wants to suck my dick. I'll let anybody suck my dick."
"What would you sacrifice for love?"
"I eat her," Oxbig responds. "If I eat you, you're gonna be my wife."
There seems to be consensus on this.
Twenty-two-year-old Javin confirms, "A bitch only get head if you love her -- that's it. You gotta be real special to get head. I'm Puerto Rican. I know what I'm doing."
Another friend, a built man in a wife beater and a black baseball cap, is booty-dancing like crazy against a pool table with a slight, short-haired girl, who the guys say is a lesbian. They're bumping, grinding. She's got her legs wrapped around his waist, and he's thrashing her around the floor.
The guys are yelling, "He's gonna bring her back" ... to the hetero persuasion, I presume.
Two bespectacled blond women in their 40s are laughing hysterically as they watch the scene go down. So I turn to talk to one of the women, who says to call her Savannah, for a different perspective on love.
"I've been in love with a married man for five years," she tells me. "He lies to me all the time. [He says] he's going to leave his wife and get divorced. I decided not to see him anymore a few months ago, but I've started seeing him again. It's painful to be in love with someone who is married. It's sad when a man has a wife at home and tells someone he's going to leave. It hurts a lot when people lie. I'm not taking his calls anymore."
"What is love?" I ask her.
"If you really love somebody, you want to wake up with them in the morning. You want to put up with the good and the bad." She gets personal: "I would be a good stepmom for his kids. He would have a lot more fun with me, [but] as long as he comes home every night, she's OK with it. At this point, I have to take care of myself. I want a guy who's committed."
"Not a guy who's gonna hang out at the bar." She points to two young men playing pool. "Look at them. Don't they have to work in the morning? What are they doing? It's hard to find a committed man."
Oxbig strolls over to our conversation, and Savannah asks him, "Why can't men commit?"
He replies, "'Cause the one girl he trusted did him wrong. She did some dirty shit. Every girl I ever treated good did me wrong. Every girl I treated like shit loved me. If I tell you you're my one and only girl, that's true. But every girl is either a slut or she's crazy and thinks you're fucking every girl you talk to."
Warmed up to me, Oxbig refers back to his cell phone porno. "That wasn't me, I swear. I'm a virgin... in my ass."
EJ's feeling fuzzy too. "How old are you?" he asks me.
"25," I respond.
"Huh," he says. "Do you got a sister?"
Feeling slightly wiser and kind of old, I leave.
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