Saved by the Bell: Examining Love in David Ives’s “Sure Thing”
In David Ives’s Sure Thing, disagreements are avoided with a ringing bell, which serves as a device to shape consensus and allows the couple to fall in love at the end. Both characters are quick to judge and come close to giving up on each other dozens of times throughout the play, questioning the notion of two people falling in love the first time they meet. As a way of satirizing the concept of ‘love at first sight,’ the couple avoids talking about controversial topics such as politics and previous relationships and fall in love while discussing their taste for Brussels sprouts and crumb cake. The couple’s first meeting exposes the ideal of ‘love at first sight’ as an unlikely possibility because of each character’s tendency to make hasty judgments.
Both Bill and Betty are quick to judge one another, and in fact they almost miss the opportunity to meet because of their hasty judgments. For example, when Bill tries to sit down next to Betty for the third time, he tells her she “[does not] know who [she] might be turning down,” hinting at the possibility of relationship forming (3). The ideal of love at first sight is meeting someone and not knowing if that person could be the love of one’s life. However, Betty makes a hasty judgment and decides to decline his request, foregoing the opportunity to get to know him. Betty’s immediate disinterest in Bill debunks the myth of love at first sight because it is unlikely to happen with such quick judgments. Bill and Betty also acknowledge the importance of timing and coincidence, yet continue to make these judgments and become disinterested in each other. Bill tells Betty that she “[has] to hit these things at the right moment or it’s no good,” (7) and later comments on how even though they both come to this café often, it must always be a “missed connection” that they never see each other (9). They are both aware of the significance of timing and coincidence, yet immediately after this conversation Bill and Betty lose interest in each other and Bill calls for a waiter. The quickness with which the two of them draw conclusions about each other and forego the opportunity of a relationship shows how love at first sight is an unlikely possibility.
The concept of love at first sight is constructed so that the characters believe that consensus is what will make for a good relationship. On each occasion that Bill and Betty do not agree on something the bell rings and the two are literally saved by the bell, averting any conflict. The two tackle contentious topics such as previous relationships and politics, however the bell rings incessantly during these parts of the conversation and the dialogue progresses minimally. At one point, Betty gives an account of what could be regarded as a personal past experience with someone who used her for sex. Later, Bill references the “castrating bitch [he] dumped” the night before (13). Both accounts of their previous relationships are dismissed with the bell, which serves as a literary device used to force consensus. When discussing politics, four bells ring before Bill reaches the conclusion that he is “unaffiliated,” coincidentally just like Betty (14). The bell stops the couple from speaking about any previous relationships or political opinions and forces them to reach a point of agreement. The constant ringing bells shows how an idealized view of love at first sight demands that the couple agree on everything. Bill and Betty only commit to loving and cherishing one another “forever” after they agree on a series of mundane things such as Woody Allen films, crumb cake, and Brussels sprouts (17).
Bill and Betty falling in love at the end of the conversation undermines the idea of love at first sight because the couple avoids important topics and only fall ‘in love’ when agreeing on trivial things. Throughout their conversation, Bill and Betty constantly make hasty judgments about one another and as a result, risk missing the opportunity of forming a relationship. Bill and Betty only fall in love once they agree on things, even though they are trivial, which shows how love at first sight is misguided in believing that a couple must agree on everything in order for the relationship to succeed. Bill and Betty’s conversation highlights the issues with the idealized concept of love at first sight. The missteps in their conversation around what appears to be a minefield of possible mistakes reveals the unlikelihood of ‘love at first sight’ because of the characters’ hasty judgments.
It is moments of wrongdoing and subsequent atonement that constitute every child’s coming of age. Within his autobiographical narrative, A Summer’s Life, Gary Soto recreates his fall from innocence as […]
Aeschylus’ play The Persians, written in 472 BCE, is the oldest extant play in Western Civilization. The play is set within the city of Susa immediately following the defeat of […]
In Dickens’s Hard Times, Christianity is often alluded to both symbolically and literally. Because of the time period in which the novel was written, the presence of these religious themes […]
As the old adage goes, it is not what one says, but how they say it that matters most. In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, the novel’s […]
From Hitler to Hussein, the rise and fall of dictators has captivated historians and writers alike for centuries. British novelist George Orwell (1903-1950) was no exception. In his 1946 allegory […]
In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It, feminine homoeroticism emerges as an interplay of passive and aggressive opposition. Women take the sphere of romantic love — […]
Narayan has covered a whole range of human ages from boyhood to the old age. He has presented a whole variety of characters, viewing the landscapes of human existence from […]
In the novel For Today I Am A Boy, Kim Fu tells the story of a young Chinese-Canadian named Peter Huang, who throughout the novel grapples with the struggles of […]
Old English texts were written in a period when the English civilization was in the progress of converting to Christianity from their previous Pagan beliefs. Hence poetry such as Beowulf […]
In David Ives’s Sure Thing, disagreements are avoided with a ringing bell, which serves as a device to shape consensus and allows the couple to fall in love at the […]