Falling In love Means Following Your Heart Not the Opinions of Others

Resplendent love in one era is love unrequited in another. During the Victorian Age in America, voluptuousness represented beauty and being thin was perceived as unattractive and unhealthy. In America today, being thin is a sign of beauty and voluptuousness is viewed as unappealing. The adage beauty is in the eye of the beholder gets blurred by society’s definition of beauty, which changes from one generation to the next. The definition of beauty ascribed by society, family members, and friends often taints our perception of beauty.

The movie Marty, filmed in 1955, illustrates this point. Marty Pillentti, played by Ernest Borgnine, is a butcher who perceives himself as ugly and without hope of finding a woman to love. Marty is constantly being badgered by his mother to get married. Marty’s mindset is revealed in a conversation he has with his mother at dinner.

Mrs. Pilletti: (serving dinner) So, what are you gonna do tonight Marty?

Marty: I don’t know, Ma. I’m all knocked out. I may just hang around the house.

Mrs. Pilletti: Why don’t you go to the Stardust Ballroom?

Marty: What?

Mrs. Pilletti: I say, why don’t you go to the Stardust Ballroom? It’s loaded with tomatoes (good looking women).

Marty: It’s loaded with what?

Mrs. Pilletti: Tomatoes.

Marty: (laughs) Who told you about the Stardust Ballroom, Ma?

Mrs. Pilletti: Tommy. (Tommy is Marty’s married cousin.) He say it was a very nice place.

Marty: Oh, Thomas. Ma, it’s just a big dance hall, that’s all it is. I been there a hundred times. Loaded with tomatoes—boy, you’re funny, Ma.

Mrs. Pilletti: Marty, I don’t want you to hang around the house tonight. I want you to go take a shave and go dance.

Marty: (pleading) Ma, when you gonna give up? You got a bachelor on your hands. I ain’t never gonna get married.

Mrs. Pilletti: You’re gonna get married.

Marty: Ma, sooner or later, there comes a point in a man’s life when he’s gotta face some facts. And one fact I gotta face is that, whatever it is that women like, I ain’t got it. I chased after enough girls in my life. I-I went to enough dances. I got hurt enough. I don’t wanna get hurt no more. I just called up a girl this afternoon, and I got a real brush-off, boy! I figured I was past the point of being hurt, but that hurt. Some stupid woman who I didn’t even want to call up. She gave me the brush. No, Ma, I don’t wanna go to Stardust Ballroom because all that ever happened to me there was girls made me feel like I was a-a-a bug. I got feelings, you know. I-I had enough pain. No thanks, Ma!

Mrs. Pilletti: Marty—

Marty: No. I’m gonna stay home tonight and watch The Hit Parade.

Mrs. Pilletti: (said with regret) You’re gonna die without a son.

Marty: So I’ll die without a son.

Mrs. Pilletti: Marty, put on the blue suit, huh?

Marty: Blue suit, gray suit, I’m just a fat, little man. A fat ugly man.

Mrs. Pilletti: You not ugly. (Against his own better judgment, Marty decides to go to the Stardust Ballroom with his friends, even though he is convinced that the night will end disastrously.)

At the Stardust Ballroom, Marty sees Clara, played by Betsy Blair, weeping silently. Clara, a plain looking school teacher, was cast off by her blind date for a prettier woman. Marty comforts her and they spend the rest of the night exchanging life stories. Marty and Clara discover that they have much in common and share an enchanting evening in each other’s company. Marty decides to escort Clara home, but they stop off at his house to pick up a pack of cigarettes. Marty introduces Clara to his mother. The conversation between Clara and Mrs. Pillette is tense because Clara expresses an opinion contrary to Mrs. Pilletti’s traditional perception of family life.

The next day Marty learns that his widowed aunt is going to move in with him and his mother. The embittered aunt warns Marty’s mother that living alone is a widow’s fate. Fearing abandonment in her old age, Marty’s mother changed her mind about her son getting married and belittles Clara.

Mrs. Pilletti: She wasn’t a very good looking girl but she looked like a nice girl…not pretty. She look a little bit old for you. About thirty-five, forty years old?

Marty: She’s twenty-nine, Ma.

Mrs. Pilletti: She’s more than twenty-nine years old, Marty. That’s what she tells you…She looked thirty-five, forty years old. She don’t look like an Italian girl…What family she comes from? I don’t know. Something about her I-I don’t like…The first time you meet the girl, she comes to your empty house alone. These college girls. They’re only one step from the street.

Marty: What are ya talkin’ about? She’s a nice girl.

Mrs. Pilletti: She don’t look Italian to me. I don’t like her…Don’t bring her up to the house no more.

Marty also has to defend Clara against the criticism of his male friends.

Angie: She must have been about fifty years old.

One of Marty’s friends: You know the way I figure, a guy ought to marry a girl twenty years younger than he is, so when he’s forty, she’s still a real pretty doll of twenty-one.

Jerry: That means he’d have to marry the girl when she was one year old.

One of Marty’s friends: You know you’re right. I never thought of that.

Marty: I didn’t think she was so bad looking.

Angie: Well, she must have kept you in the shadows all night.

One of Angie’s friends: Marty, you don’t want to hang around with dogs. It gives you a bad reputation.

Angie: Let’s go down to 72nd Street.

Marty: I told this dog I’d call her up today about two-thirty.

Angie: Listen, you want to come with me tonight, or you wanna go with that dog?

Marty’s mother and friends, who are influential in his life, plant seeds of doubt in his mind about his affection for Clara based on their perception of her beauty or lack thereof. Marty sees Clara as attractive and exciting while his mother and friends see her as dull and homely. Marty is torn between pleasing his mother and friends and his attraction for Clara. Intimidated by their opinions, Marty does not call Clara as he promised and resigned to settle back into his dull routine, although he feels guiltyhaving turned his back on a women he adores and finds attractive. Marty eventually comes to his senses and declares his attraction to Clara defying his mother and his friends.

Marty: You don’t like her. My mother don’t like her. She’s a dog. And I’m a fat, ugly man. Well, all I know is I had a good time last night. I’m gonna have a good time tonight. If we have enough good times together, I’m gonna get down on my knees. I’m gonna beg that girl to marry me. If we make a party on New Year’s, I got a date for that party. You don’t like her? That’s too bad. (Marty rushes to the phone to call Clara)

The moral of the story is to follow your heart, not the opinions of others. At the end of the day, the only opinions that count are yours and the person you love. The sad truth is nobody else really cares, despite what they may say.

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© Copyright 2013 Jack Schafer, Ph.D., All rights Reserved.
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John R. “Jack” Schafer, Ph.D. is a professor at Western Illinois University in the Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) Department. He is a retired FBI Special Agent. He served as behavioral analyst assigned to FBI’s National Security Behavioral Analysis Program. He authored a book titled “Psychological Narrative Analysis: A Professional Method to Detect Deception in Written and Oral Communications.” He also co-authored a book titled “Advanced Interviewing Techniques: Proven strategies for Law Enforcement, Military, and Security Personnel.” He has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics including the psychopathology of hate, ethics in law enforcement, and detecting deception. Dr. Schafer earned his Ph.D. in psychology at Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California. Dr. Schafer owns his own consulting company and lectures and consults in the United States and abroad.