Whether I realized it or not, I have always been a huge fan of Canadian exports. Barenaked Ladies has always been my favorite band. South Park was always my favorite show. Ryan Reynolds and Alanis Morissette, my favorite celebrity couple.
Maybe all that maple syrup had gone to my head, but for me, it seemed like Canada can do very little wrong. I mean, yes, I was disappointed when Steven Page left BNL. Sure, it stung when South Park killed Kenny … again. But when Ryan and Alanis broke up in 2008 after a 6-year relationship, I was clobbered. How could Canada do this to me!?
Ryan, Alanis, and I didn’t celebrate major holidays together, but I felt a kinship to them and their relationship. Their love gave this sad clown’s heart some hope. They became the romantic benchmark for lovelorn singles (Canadian and otherwise) the world over when they met and began dating in 2002 following a chance meeting at Drew Barrymore's birthday party. I followed their every public move.
I was initially introduced to Morissette in 1986 when she starred on the Nickelodeon kids sketch comedy show You Can’t Do That on Television. When I say introduced, I mean I watched the show faithfully, and she happened to be on it. I did actually meet her once during my brief stint as a radio DJ. She was bedecked in corduroy, generously signing CD cases and hastily printed Xerox copies of her picture. The Alanis of the '80s and '90s was funny, rocked feathered hair, and wore slime like a champ. In 1996, Ryan was one of the titular guys in the ABC sitcom, Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place. He was funny, insanely hot, and used an appropriate amount of hair product for a dude in the '90s (the needle in a haystack of men with frosted tips).
Separately, I enjoyed them both. Together, I loved them. To me, their pairing seemed somewhat surprising, as Ryan’s vibe was mostly fun and flighty and sexy, and Alanis’s was more heavy and introspective and deep, but it was those differences that made an amazing amount of sense to me — it was the whole opposites attract thing. He needed her to become more serious, she needed him to lighten herself up. It’s like when you cover Canadian bacon in chocolate. You're hesitant to believe two separately fantastic things could mesh so deliciously, but by God do they ever.
I am not a pessimist, but I am a realist. If love is a battlefield, beauty is the bazooka and personality is the slingshot. When people describe me I don’t assume the first description is "knock out." I am not a troll, but that’s just not what stands out to people — my primary identifier is probably funny. Similarly, when I think of Alanis (who for the record, is a very attractive woman) I usually think of her talent first, her hotness second. I say that as a huge compliment — to me, her insane talent is her standout characteristic. People hear that voice and read those lyrics, and that is what they go on and on about. I have always wondered if this much depth, even presented in a pretty package, is too much for most men to handle. But Ryan saw the talent, saw the woman, and saw everything she put on the table, and together they seemed unstoppable.
The majority of my friends have been men I met at school or playing sports. We watch games together, drink beer together, and tell ridiculous jokes together. But we don’t frequently go on dates together. Their eyes usually land on the leggy gal across the bar. Now I'm not knocking beautiful people, but in my experience, I've found that more often than not that pretty gets picked with or without substance. Funny gets friendship and stuck buying the next round for the new couple. That said, together, my favorite Canadians gave me hope that I didn't have to be a buxom blonde to get the hot dude.
When they split in 2008, I was rattled. Not so sad that I wrote a song called “Torch” like Alanis did, but disappointed enough that I slathered another coat of lacquer to my already jaded heart. It’s not easy to watch a relationship on a pedestal fall, especially one that you personally assigned a lot of value to.
At the time of Ryan and Alanis’s relationship, I had recently graduated college and was maybe too immature to see that even though they didn’t make it to the finish line, the principle of their relationship still stood. I learned that lesson in the process of earning my crows feet. Not all great loves can last, but that doesn’t make them any less great or any less meaningful to those in them and to those that observed them.
Ryan went on to marry Scarlett Johanssen, and later Blake Lively, with whom he shares three children. Alanis married Mario “Souleye” Treadway and also has three kids.
As I would have suspected, their breakup was a jagged little pill to swallow (sorry), but it was not ugly. No mud was thrown, no mean talk in the media, just a graceful end to a pure relationship. The way they ended, much like the way they began, just reaffirms why they were my relationship Yoda. Alanis and Ryan probably had some dark times post breakup, but thankfully found brighter days to reflect on their lives, their love, and the genuine meaning of it all. Days like March 8th. Which is still Ryan’s favorite holiday: Alanis Morissette Day in Ottawa, Canada.
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