Songs and stores from childhood are simple which is why we are able to learn them quickly and recall them years later. Like this one:
Jack and Jill sitting in a tree,
First comes love . . . then comes marriage . . . then comes Jack with the baby carriage.
Boys and girls chant this rhyme at the first whisper of romance particularly in primary school. In fourth grade, I received a locket on Valentine’s Day. After that day, he would not speak nor look at me. He was tormented by our classmates who sang the song relentlessly on the playground.
K-I-S-S-I-N-G is not just a childish taunt; the song represents the socially accepted order of love and marriage. Breaking social rules and crossing boundaries is not easy even if we think that we are modern. The Jan van Eyck portrait of marriage still raises eyebrows; the pregnancy of the bride is unexpected in a Renaissance painting perhaps. But then as now, life is not always orderly nor simple. Marriage does not inevitably follow love; marriage does not always last a lifetime and sometimes, the baby carriage remains empty.