With the big day for romance upon us tomorrow, I thought I’d revisit this post I did last year. The reality of romance from yours truly, the cynical romance writer….
Ah, love… Who doesn’t love love? But love in the world of fiction is a funny thing. It’s exciting and passionate and heroic or tragic, even. Two deeply flawed individuals meet, they initially hate each other, conflict arises, circumstances force them together. They find common ground, the struggle they face brings out the best qualities in both of them. They fall desperately, hopelessly in love and live happily ever after. Or if the story ends tragically and the lovers are kept apart, our hearts are broken. Nevertheless, happy ending or no, fictional romances are interesting.
My question for you all to ponder is this: Do love stories give us unrealistic expectations about how things should play out in the real world? Maybe. For example, have you noticed a trend toward super romantic, totally contrived and staged proposals? Do we now expect to be taken up in hot air balloons, on rides in horse-drawn carriages, proposed to on the Jumbotron? Seriously, if someone did that to me, I’d say no just to screw with them. Did you hear about that idiot who stopped traffic on a freeway to propose and ended up getting arrested? He’s lucky he didn’t get run over. Moron. Anyway, is this what it’s come to? Having to make grand, sweeping, over-the-top gestures of true love? It makes my eyes roll so far back in my head I can see behind me. How about just going out for a nice dinner? Really, if you want to surprise someone with a ring, do it under the most ordinary circumstances. Or leave the ring in the fridge next to the ketchup or something. That would be surprising.
By now you’re thinking, “Boy howdy, that Meg’s not romantic at all. Somebody musta done her wrong somewheres.” (You’d be thinking that in your old timey cowboy voice.) Ok, truth be told, I have had a couple messed up relationships. However, so have a lot of people and that doesn’t put them off romance. And that goes for me as well. I just think we need to be realistic in our expectations of love in the real world. It’s not all candlelight and flowers and everyone looking like a supermodel. Or Aidan Turner, damn it. (Ross Poldark, is the perfect example of the flawed but fabulous hero.)
Sometimes the little things can be just as romantic. Like snuggling under the covers on a rainy morning. Or being told you’re beautiful (or handsome) even when your hair is a mess and you don’t have makeup on (or the dude equivalent of that). Or combining your finances and your music collection, even if you hate their Steely Dan albums. (Ok, my Steely Dan albums. No judging.) And kissing even when you’re not going to have sex.
All right, you get the idea. And everyone’s list will be unique anyway. The point is the little things that happen every day can be just as wonderful and loving and romantic as the big shiny things that DeBeers tries to sell you. Or that romance novels lead you to believe. Don’t let fictional romance ruin the real thing for you. Everybody deserves a happy ending.
What do you think, writers and readers? What does romance mean to you?