Isn’t It Romantic?
By Cait Collins
What is romance? What makes a story romantic? These questions were posed at a recent critique meeting. A number of responses were tossed out, but there was no concise definition. It’s one of those “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it” things.
Webster defines romance as 1: (a) a medieval tale in verse or prose based on legend, chivalric love and adventure, or the supernatural; (b): a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous or mysterious; (c): a love story or a class of literature; 2; something that lacks basis in fact. 3: an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure or calling; 4 a passionate love affair; 5: the Romance languages. The dictionary further defines romance as to exaggerate or invent detail or incident; to entertain romantic thoughts or ideas, or to carry on a love affair. I consider this a clear as mud.
Romance is more than “Once upon a time boy met girl; boy lost girl, boy and girl found each other again, and they lived happily ever after.” It’s more than a love story. True romance is a couple who are attracted to one another. As they spend time together, they begin to realize there is something special to the relationship. Friendship develops into a powerful attraction as the couple chooses to love one another. Yes, they choose to love. People don’t fall in love; they fall in lust. Lust dims, but committed love conquers all obstacles. True love does not die. In fact the relationship lasts beyond death. The original love does not prevent the survivor from finding a new partner and having a strong romantic relationship. Often the memories of first love provide the foundation for a new commitment.
The commitment of one person to another is not easy. Romance, or love, requires nurturing and communication. Little gestures enhance the emotions. Both my husband and I had high stress jobs. We were committed to our careers, but there were still clothes to wash, meals to cook, and a house to clean. How wonderful it was to walk in the door to vacuumed floors, dusted tables, and empty laundry baskets. I would fix dinner and we’d clean the kitchen together. Mundane perhaps, but sharing the home chores was romantic. I didn’t ask for his help, he did those things because he cared. Some men send flowers for no reason. What about the wife who purchases four tickets to a football game for her guy and his buddies? My aunt told me about an incident in her marriage to my mom’s youngest brother. A tornado warning was issued for Seymour, Texas. They sought shelter in their bathroom. He helped her get in the bathtub and covered her to protect her from debris. The shelter was not big enough for both of them so he sat on the edge of the tub and held her hand. Gestures freely given keep the romance alive in a relationship.
In all due respect to the Walt Disney Studios, fairy tales provide a skewed view of romance. I’m a sucker for a good animated love story. Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast; Lady and the Tramp, and Aladdin are among my favorite movies.. But the characters are not true. Who wants a perfect prince or princess? Characters are flawed. They make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Give me a guy who can admit he was wrong, A man who, with tears in his eyes, begs for forgiveness and promises to do better. Now that’s romantic.