By: Marie Force
How do you define romance? This question occurred to me as I watched one of those infernal Cialis commercials. You know the one, with the man and woman in side-by-side bathtubs holding hands as they gaze out over the sunset. Now, I ask you, how is that romantic? How does it even work? Do they carry the water out in buckets, moving quickly to get in while it’s still hot? Are they in robes—God I hope so since the naked bucket line conjures up a whole other set of images—until they get tub-side at which time they doff the robes and hope the neighbors didn’t pick tonight to grill on their deck? Once our happy twosome is finally IN their respective tubs, is he wondering how to get her into his tub or is he more worried that he’s going to be the one who gets the dreaded four-hour erection?
Every time I see those bathtubs, I laugh. Something tells me that’s not what the Cialis marketing folks were aiming to achieve. But then I start to wonder if other people think the side-by-side bathtubs are romantic and sexy. Are there really couples who do that kind of stuff together? And does holding hands across the porcelain really lead to hot sex? Inquiring minds would love to know.
I am definitely NOT a romantic person. Neither is my husband. My thirty-year-old hairdresser put it best: “I want a man who takes out the trash without being asked. THAT is romantic.” I couldn’t agree more. If my husband was coming home with wine and flowers on a regular basis, I would think: A. he’s having an affair or B. a mid-life crisis. Since I’m fairly confident he’s having neither, there’s not a lot of flowers flowing into my house. I’m fine with that because he takes out the trash and empties his two recycling bins regularly—without being asked.
Even though I’m not a hearts and flowers romantic, I create characters who are. Some, like Ryan Sanderson in “Line of Scrimmage,” are low-key romantics. He gives his wife Susannah a tiny diamond-encrusted charm of the number 10 for their tenth anniversary. A multi-millionaire, Ryan certainly could’ve done better. But he saw the charm in a jewelry store window when he and Susannah were separated and bought it hoping he’d get the chance to give it to her. When he did, the gift made her cry. Success! Sometimes, less is more. Other times, more is MUCH more. My beloved character Jack Harrington in “Treading Water,” the first book I ever wrote, is a big-gesture romantic. An architect, he designed and built an amazing house as a surprise for his wife. If my husband tried something like that, I'd just assume he had children with another woman and was trying to figure out how to tell me. Ahh, romance!
As writers, we work the spectrum from the small gestures to the large, depending on what our characters’ relationships demand of us. What about you? What’s your definition of romance? Is the man in your life a Ryan or a Jack? And tell me the truth, have you ever held hands with a man between bathtubs? Come on. Fess up!