Whole Waffle Love
On Pelgium, a tiny planet circling around star Trappist-1, live the Pelgians, a peaceful though emotionally dysfunctional kind of alien. The Pelgians look not entirely unlike humans, except that they are, on average, a tiny bit more good-looking. They have an intelligence incomparable to anything found on Earth. In fact, they discovered Earth millions of years ago, and they often look at it trough their giant double-mirror telescope called The Waffle. Humans are a great source of entertainment for Pelgians.
But there is something the Pelgians don’t quite understand. What is this thing called love? After millennia of close observations, they still haven’t come any closer to figuring it out. Humans seem to make an awful lot of fuzz about it.
The Pelgians decide to send one of their own to Earth. They send a tiny alien ship looking not entirely unlike a spermatozoon into the womb of an earth woman – that’s why you should always sleep with your underpants on. A little girl is born in Belgium. The Pelgians chose that country cause they thought it was hilarious that a small European nation would name itself after their planet, and then get the spelling wrong.
The girl is called Nele, which for some mysterious reason should be pronounced as Ney-La. Oh well, fair enough. Nele looks and acts completely human. Only looking very closely you realize that there is something vaguely odd about her.
Growing up, Nele thinks she’s a Pelgian researcher. Weekly, she has a conference call with the Board Of Pelgian Love Affairs, in which she reports what her Quest for Love has thought her. What Nele doens’t know is that she’s also a TV star. Nele is followed by Pelgian camera drones disguised as butterflies and little birds. Whole Waffle Love, a reality TV show following Nele’s life, becomes the most popular program in the history of The Waffle Network, Pelgium’s planetary broadcasting system.
The Pelgians need for Nele to be constantly communicating her love life without letting her know she’s followed. How do they do it? They simply turn her into an artist, the kind of artist that thinks her inner life is so important she constantly has to talk about it in the form of music, also known as a “singer-songwriter”. By listening to Nele’s performances through The Waffle, the aliens get provided with excellent entertainment.
How do you make anyone an artist? You let them grow up in a dysfunctional family, of course! The aliens send a robot called Vulvella to Nele’s dad. Vulvella is programmed to look like a twenty-year-old secretary. Soon after that, Nele’s dad decide to leave his family for her. Nele is twelve, and this whole episode creates a childhood trauma that, later in live, will need to be resolved with song after song after song. So predictable.
Almost twenty years later Nele lives in London. Whole Waffle Love has been running for three decades, and hasn’t lost any of it’s initial popularity. Weekly episodes consist out of the conference calls Nele makes to the Board, video material being filmed with drones, and the songs Nele writes.
Meanwhile, Nele has identified so much with her human form that she sometimes tend to forget she’s an alien – thought that might have something to do with the Earth Hormones being slipped into her morning coffee by Pelgian drones. Nele wants to be a pop star – that’s what childhood trauma does to you. She also wants a boyfriend. Great pitch for a television show, definitely!
To the great joy of the aliens, Nele turns out to be very hardworking – maybe a little bit too hardworking, actually. In other words: she constantly falls in love. This leads to many adventures which all finish rather soon. All of this while Nele claims to want nothing more than a stable relationship. When the Board tries to tell her she should maybe be a little less impulsive, Nele replies she’s a feminist. The Pelgians are having a great laugh.
Surprisingly, Nele gathers quite a lot of following with her songs. On some concerts, more than three people show up – which is great for London. When she gets on stage, Nele notices something peculiar. People are looking at her, in a way that could be either excruciatingly drunk or admiring – very often it is a combination of both. Nele finds out that it’s not that hard to take somebody home after a concert.
But somehow, she doesn’t find these brief encounters very satisfying. All too often, beautiful boys who were looking with hazy eyes at her during a concert, thinking she is some kind of pop star goddess, are gone rather quickly when they find out that she is just another insecure confused girl sleeping in striped pajamas and big-underpants-that-might-have-been-washed-a-couple-of-times-too-many-already-and-should-really-be-thrown-away-if-only-they-weren’t-that-comfy. Very disappointing indeed. Nele does not want them to fall in love with her CV – she wants somebody to like for her alien soul.
The aliens can’t get enough of this light form of dramatic entertainment. Luckily for them, London is filled with a certain kind of guy known as a Peter Pan, the kind of guy who will break women’s hearts all through his thirties and will only settle down when he’s on the brink of getting irrevocably old and ugly with a woman who is at least a decade younger. Until that day, a Peter Pan will hide his evil quest behind a fear of commitment and a complex-poetic personality. The chicks love it – until they don’t. Nele is still hoping to find The One, but more and more develops the kind of indifference that is necessary to survive dating in London in the 21st century.
Until she meets a guy called Peter Ban. He’s something completely different. Coming from a dysfunctional family as well, he seems to understand her. He gives her all the attentions she could ever wish for. He calls her princess. He lovebombs her with letters, flowers, and heart-shaped emoji. He wants to marry her, wants to father her child.
Nele is skeptical at first. All her failed adventures have left her pretty pessimistic about love. If so many relationships tend to end in heartbreak, then why would it work this time? Is she just the Next Girl in Line for Peter? But after at least two and a half days of lovebombing, and some persuasion by The Board, Nele gives in. She falls in love. This is The One!
Having said that, there is still Nele’s childhood trauma, which basically makes her unable to ever be happy with anyone. If it didn’t work for her parents, why would it work for her? Yeah, Peter might be all over her now, but what if a twenty-year-old robot called Vulvella comes his way in a couple of decades? Will You Still Love Me If I Look Like My Mom? Obviously, Nele’s tries to swipe these doubts under the rug. She doesn’t want to bother Peter with her personality.
Nele and Peter get involved in a romance where they see each other regularly, often at night, often accompanied by a bottle of wine and pompous stories about running away one day, to somewhere far. But when Nele proposes to actually go on a holiday, the next weekend, to Brighton, Peter says those three words Nele was dreading all along, the words that define modern relationships – “We’ll See”. It’s Earth language for “I Just Want To Fuck Now Shut Up”.
But Nele does not want to give this up. This romance is so good for her confidence! She feels so beautiful when she’s with Peter, especially when it’s dark. Maybe, if she tries hard enough, Peter will decide she is the one to settle down with, and not some future young chick who will kiss his stinky old feet when he’s near dementia. So Nele pretends to be independent. Of course she doesn’t mind if Peter answers only half a sentence, if anything at all, to the carefully calibrated witty messages she sends him! Of course not!
After a couple of months, Peter Ban breaks up with an email – a short email. In doing so he makes a lot of money for a couple of Pelgians who had bet on exactly that outcome. Peter can’t help it, he’s just too complex-poetic and has all these other women he still has to fuck. Nele is devastated. She desperately wants Peter Ban back. She stays in bed for weeks, watching self-help video on Youtube. This is how she hears about something white women in yoga pants call Buddhism. It might help.
These weeks make really boring television on The Waffle Network, causing a dip in viewer ratings. Nele is just repeating the same thing over and over and over again. Crying, then more crying, then crying in downward facing dog. The Pelgians have to intervene!
The aliens hack into her computer, so that one day, seemingly accidental, a Hollywood movie starts playing, providing Nele with the message that happiness is a choice and that you can reach anything you want in live, if you try hard enough – clearly a lie. The aliens are rolling over the floor laughing when they try to select a movie that might suit this purpose. In the end they opt for the 1983 movie Flashdance – excellent choice. One night, Flashdance automatically starts playing on Nele’s computer while she is watching self help video’s. She watches it.
The next morning, Nele gets out of bed, for the first time in weeks, with the irresistible urge to go and buy a pair of leg warmers. She is getting herself together again, more ambitious than ever. No heartbreak is ever going to get you down again, she says to herself. You’re a Bodybuilder Of Love!
Nele convinces herself she doesn’t need love. Classic. She focusses on her music, and actually receives a certain amount of recognition for it. Audiences get bigger and bigger. In the audience there are always a couple of Peters Pans. Nele doesn’t care. She is her own woman now.
When she meets Darcy, she doesn’t like him at first. For one, he is not called Peter. Secondly, who is called Darcy anyway? He seems to genuinely like her. Nele wonders why. Is it maybe because she is a famous local musician now? Is he another one of those?
Because Darcy is ugly enough not to frighten her with the risk of ever breaking her heart, Nele and Darcy start dating. Not the kind of dates where a man comes all over your face never to be heard of again, but the kind of date where you actually talk to one another. What’s wrong with this guy? Is this love? The Pelgians wonder too. What on Earth is happening?
Then, all of a sudden, Peter Ban is standing on Nele’s doorstep again. He begs for forgiveness with a guitar on which he mostly plays the chord of I minor – his favorite chord, apart from I major. Nele doesn’t know what to do. She missed Peter so much, he is so much more good-looking than Darcy, except for his teeth, but he is also, well, an asshole. On Pelgium, T-shirts that say “Team Peter” or “Team Darcy” are selling out.
What Nele doesn’t know, is that Peter is finding more and more hairs on the pillow and in the shower. He’s getting bold! He has to settle down, quickly, find a woman he can chain to him before it’s too late.
After a serious conversation with the Board, who know what Peter is up to, Nele realizes that he will never be in love with her, for he is, irreversibly, in love with himself. Oh well, she thinks. If you are not in love with me – I’ll fuck someone who is. And who might that be? Darcy, of course. He has been waiting patiently.
Nele starts a relationship with Darcy. He is The One! The Pelgians are relieved. It’s been a while since they saw some proper porn on Whole Waffle Love. Sex with Darcy will probably be boring, but at least it will be regular.
A couple of months into this relationship, viewer ratings drop again. The relationship is going so great, Darcy is such a good guy with such clean teeth… Nothing is happening! Not one minor conflict, not one flying plate, nothing! Darcy is even thinking about marrying Nele. This would ruin the research. How are you going to find out anything about love when you’re married?
By this time, Nele and Darcy are living together. And since she is not really famous yet, he brings in most of the money. Oh well, she will pay him back once she’s a proper star. But Nele starts to feel more and more trapped. After a while, she can’t stand the sight of Darcy anymore. But can she really leave him? He’s such a kind man! Besides, he pays the rent.
In the end, Nele breaks up with Darcy. She has to go live back with her mom, who is also single and playing darts on a picture of Vulvella. Nele honestly doesn’t understand anything about love. Every time she seems to have find The One, it turns out to be The One For A While. You just. Can’t. Win.
The Pelgians are looking forward to the next season.