Escape" (aka "The Piña Colada Song") by Rupert Holmes was hugely popular thirty-some years ago. It's a short story about a man who has grown bored with his marriage. Scanning the newspaper, he sees an intriguing personal ad (the precursor to today's online dating sites). He responds and arranges to meet the woman. When she arrives at the designated bar, who should she be but his own wife! The two share a laugh about the incident and then realize that they have more in common than they knew: A desire for frothy cocktails and outdoor sex, and a high tolerance for sneaky behavior. Happy ending. Ugh.
It's a dreadful song on just about every level. The music is derivative and repetitious, the lyrics are silly and repetitious, and the story is just plain goofy. So why was this song a number-one hit?
Maybe people just like singing insipid tunes with simple words about alcoholic beverages. But I'd like to think there's more to it, that what the fans saw in this song was something a little more meaningful.
In The Truth About Love, marriage therapist Pat Love describes the stages that most long-term relationships go through on the way to the experience of deep, lasting love. After the initial infatuation, there is a calming-down period. Some people find this stage disappointing and interpret it as the end of love, when it is actually the real beginning. It enables the couple to move on to the next stage, discovery. It is during this time that partners get to really know each other, learn how to relate to each other within the relationship, build trust, and grow closer as they share their thoughts and feelings and gain experience together. By re-discovering each other over time, a loving couple builds a deep and lasting connection.
All too often, instead of continuing to explore life and love together, couples accept the post-infatuation stage as the new normal. They get busy with the demands of life outside the relationship and begin investing less energy in each other. They may start to take each other for granted and slip into a routine that feels, in Holmes's words, "like a worn-out recording of a favorite song." They think they know each other all too well and that this is all there is.
What people liked about the Piña Colada Song, cheesy as it was, was its underlying message of hope. Instead of turning away from your familiar partner and planning an escape with someone new, take a fresh look at the person who is right next to you. When you discover what is going on beneath the surface, you will be amazed. What you really need is not to escape from each other, but to escape from your expectations and assumptions. The person you are looking for just might be the one you have already found.