Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. -- Aristotle

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. -- Lao Tzu

I'm chuckling while checking my recent emails. Once again there are Valentine's Day deals galore, as well as an offer from match.com inviting me to view photos of singles in my city. I'm a hardcore cynic when it comes to online dating and have serious doubts if the photos posted are truly representative of how the people really look. I am pretty sure I would have passed on their offer if it had been available during my single days.

Next thing I know, Kelly bursts into the family room, holding up the recent People magazine. There's a picture of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis on the cover, with the copy "Love gone wrong."

"Can you believe it?" she asked. "After 13 years, it is over between Johnny Depp and Vanessa."

My wife walks in and gives me her best enlightened Zen look.

"This is absolutely the worst possible news on the romantic horizon. If they can't make it, what hope is there for mere mortals such as myself. They epitomize romantic perfection, what every 20-something girl is searching for."

"Kel, it's probably just a cruel cosmic joke, a litmus test to challenge the rest of us to try and sustain our relationships," I said.

"Cruel is right," she said. "I'm beginning to wonder whether my knight in shining armor -- a sensitive mega-hottie rock star -- will ever appear, given that he's already long overdue."

"As the Zen koan goes, if you want to find something, you have to stop looking," I reminded her.

"Dad, enough with your hippy-dippy Zen koans!"

Kelly truly believes that the expression "perfect boyfriend" is an oxymoron except if applied to Johnny Depp, who even though no longer taken, is unfortunately too old for her. Being an incurable romantic, the perfect boyfriend would be a 20-something Johnny Depp clone who would ride in on a white stallion or in a black Porsche, gallantly whoosh her up and ride off into the sunset, all the while reciting lines from "Edward Scissorhands" and "Benny & Joon."

Some people rely on the facts while others are confused by them, but for my daughters there's no denying that there is a conspicuous lack of attractive and sensitive guys who possess a multi-track, not a one-track, mind.

Kelly has often wondered aloud why there isn't a real life Mr. Potato Head kit for boyfriends, where you can experiment with various combinations of looks, personality, intelligence and levels of emotional sensitivity, even though she believes that an emotionally sensitive boyfriend is more often than not also an oxymoron.

I think we've all engaged in this type of intellectual exercise at one time or another, where we try to cobble together the ideal mate from a mix of exes, famous people we wish we could go out with and the ones who got away, like the cute girl who sat right behind you in biology class but you were too shy to talk to. You know how it goes: "I love him, but if he had Robin Williams' quick wit and Emeril's ability to `kick it up a notch' in the kitchen, and come to think of it, if he got a makeover, he'd be perfection and I'd be ga-ga crazy in love."

Inquiring minds want to know, and I remember not too long ago when daughter Erin asked, "Dad, how do people pick each other out of the billions of people in the world, and then decide they want to have a relationship?"

At times, trying to get a handle on relationships and relationship chemistry rivals attempting to understand Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and when you get down to it, it is all relative. Everyone knows at least one couple whom they shake their heads over and wonder aloud, "Ugh! What did she ever see in him?" Or "It's never gonna last." And then there are other couples who bring a smile to our face and make us coo, "They're so purrrfect for each other."

Some people meet and immediately know they are destined to spend the rest of their lives together. The usual scenario is their eyes meet across a crowded room, time comes to a halt and they move toward each other in a slow motion ballet like two African gazelles.

I'm sure there are lots of people who would love to be able to one day say, "The moment he stepped into Starbucks, there was instantaneous relationship chemistry and I knew we would be spending the rest of our lives together." Whether they believe it's fate or just random chance, they're hoping they get to experience one of those time-comes-to-a-standstill-WOW! moments.

Everyone around them is frozen and as they slowly move toward each other wearing goofy love-struck grins, they mouth the words, "I love you." They come together in an embrace and then go spinning wildly around the Starbucks like Fred and Ginger, as the Beatles, "All You Need is Love," is sung by a chorus of baristas. Meanwhile, everyone else there is wondering when they will get to be the star of a similar Kodak moment.

My wife and I met at a bus stop in Los Angeles and hit it off immediately. Our eyes kind of met, but neither one of us had any sense that it would work out the way it did. I had just come back from living in Europe -- Amsterdam, Paris, London and Ibiza -- for a year, and still had a serious case of wanderlust, with no intention of settling down just yet. My plans were to move to San Francisco and begin a new chapter in my life, until that fortuitous meeting.

Since then, it has been one fabulous magic carpet ride. We have had our fair share of ups and downs and gotten through many a tough patch together; we'll marshal our resources and do whatever needs to be done to get through the bad times. We always manage to laugh at all the craziness; laughter is a great survival tool when dealing with the unpredictable rhythms of life and can bring peace to the chaos.

In a recent interview, Ringo Starr said of his wife, Barbara Bach, "There have been bad times, but I don't care how bad it gets as long as it's me and her." That holds true for my wife and me as well.

When my daughters were younger, I loved to take them to Disney movies because it was a place for them to dream the dreams of fairy tales and princes, magical kisses and falling in love. When the lights would go down, they and I would become kindred spirits with the magic of a Disney animated fairy tale and we would feel the wonder and enchantment of life. There was always a happy ending, something all parents wish for their children.

Kelly, the incurable romantic with the old soul, wants more than everything else in the world to be part of one of those Kodak moments, and I more than anything want her and her sister to find that special someone as I did one day at a bus stop in Los Angeles.

Barry Halpin is a prevention specialist for Liberation Programs, a substance abuse health-care agency based in Stamford that provides substance abuse counseling to adolescents and their families in Darien. He's also the director of the countywide Peer Players, an adolescent theater company. Email him at barryhalpin@aol.com

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