Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Romance Is...

I'm on page 129 of Northanger Abbey, thoroughly enjoying it, although as usual, the romance is doing zip for me...and it begs the question of what exactly DOES speak romance to me.

Good question.

It's been a year since the Jane Austen experiment began, and I'm nearly done with all the JA books. If this attempt at discovering my literary swoon-worthy lover is failing, I need to analyze why, and in order to answer that question, I need to assess what does and does not do it for me, romantically speaking.

Determining what makes me go "ooh-la-la" is tough; defining romance killers is a bit easier, so I'll start there.

Romance is NOT:
  • flirting with anything in a skirt. Especially if it's a short skirt. Or anything in a bikini. Or midriff-baring top. Heck, flirting with anyone other than your woman is blecky. Fidelity is attractive; skanks--male or female-- are not.
  • running to the mall on Christmas Eve and grabbing the first thing you see because it only then occurs to you that you don't have a gift for the supposed love of your life.
  • Counting the gifts under the tree to make sure that you're 'even.'
  • bringing home roses for Valentine's Day that still have the $9.99 supermarket tag attached, while complaining about the huge rush of men who were all vying for the last few bedraggled bouquets, as evidence of the dumb things men will do in order to "get some."
  • flirting with my sister.
  • asking what you "have" to do for Valentine's Day, and when no answer is given, saying, "Well, what are your roommates expecting me to do?" Word from the wise--if you are more worried about impressing outside parties than expressing sincere affection for your beloved, you're probably not ready for grown-up relationships.
  • Buying a commercial greeting card, writing "ditto" under the sentiments, and signing your name.

I could continue on (for miles), but that's depressing. On a happier note,

Romance is:

  • President Monson telling people that his wife has the most beautiful hands he's ever seen.
  • my brother-in-law Aron writing a list of 100 Things I Love About You for my sister when they were in 9th grade.
  • knowing someone well enough to give gifts that actually mean something. I still have gifts from a freshman-era boyfriend because he actually bothered to find out authors and musicians and films I liked, took the time to write funny/sweet poems to accompany them, and what do you know--15 years later I still like those books, albums, and movies. Still have the poems, too. And in case you're wondering, yes, he is still available, but not exactly to women.
  • someone who only has eyes for you. Fidelity is hot.
  • being the "sunshine in [someone's] life" (per President Uchtdorf's description of his wife, Harriet), or as Junie B. Jones puts it, "making [someone's] world all sparky." Romance is telling that person what she means to you.
  • a former bishop who took his wife shopping for a new dress because he knew that she'd never, ever spend the money on herself without some prodding. Romance is seeing the light in her eyes when she feels as beautiful as she always looks to you.
  • my brother-in-law Paul babysitting 9 kids, feeding them all lunch, cleaning up two messy potty-training accidents, and a minor medical emergency, so that his wife could have a girls' day out with her sisters.
  • slow dancing in the kitchen after the kids are in bed and laughing because you're both such terrible dancers and it doesn't matter because no one else will ever see you & your secrets are safe with each other
  • hearing him say you're beautiful, and knowing he means it
  • little acts of kindness. Romance is someone who thinks of your comfort, happiness, and well-being. It's opening doors, standing to block the wind or the sun, walking on the outside of the sidewalk, bringing you food, getting up so you don't have to, picking something up at the store, brushing your hair back when your hands are full... ah, romance is so simple.
  • knowing that you are exactly what he wants.

I haven't found it in Ms. Austen's masterpieces yet, but in real life at least, I know romance when I see it.