Don't believe what the songs tell you. Love is dangerous. It is also dumb, as the most romantic city in the world had the misfortune to discover.
For the past seven years, lovestruck couples have been attaching personalized padlocks to the bridges of Paris as a symbol of their eternal devotion – not to mention their passionate longing to vandalize a historic monument.
The first lock may have been a sincere expression of romance in a cold unfeeling world. Hundreds of thousands of locks later, and it's a high-risk statement of extreme ugliness.
The combined weight of the locks clamped onto the iron grillwork of the historic Pont des Arts is estimated at over 40 tonnes. That's more than enough love to compromise the physical integrity of the structure – the aesthetic integrity having already been ruined by all those lovebirds who treated the bridge across the Seine as an upscale version of their high-school locker.
Parisian authorities finally said enough and ordered the removal of the locks, dashing the dreams of the love-that-lasts-forever crowd – at least those of them who haven't broken up since their eternal Pont des Arts moment.
Romantics who've decried this act of preservation as a heartless crime have lost sight of true love. The pack mentality of padlock tourists represents all that's wrong with the modern idea of love as a social-media souvenir – a private feeling means nothing until it's attached to a banal display of conformity in a degraded romantic environment. Take a quick selfie and move along to the next item on the bucket list.
Imagine the modern remake of Casablanca: "We'll always have Paris," says Bogie – and all you see is a rusted mass of metal that tries to call itself a bridge. Real, secure love exists in the mind and in memory, and doesn't need the mute testimony of hard-to-dislodge objects that despoil everyone else's romantic view.
It's painful when a beautiful feeling like love generates a tragedy of the commons. Someone once carved a heart and some initials on a tree and had an instant metaphor for a living, evolving bond. Dozens of people did the same thing and the tree died. So it is with Paris – if you truly believe in love, leave it alone.