Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Defining Romance

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!

26 comments:

  1. Marie, this is hilarious and on-target for me: I HATE those Cialis commercials. As a matter of fact, if something could make me never want to have sex again, it's probably those stupid commercials with their horny old coots. My hubby and I were discussing this same thing a few days ago and decided that the proper ending for the commercial would be both of them in the SAME bathtub, but either way it's just ridiculous. I am in complete agreement on the less-is-more theory. My hunka-burnin-love is still here and still my sweetie after almost twenty years, and that's so romantic it makes me teary. No elaborate gestures required when he and I can crack ourselves up over a stupid Cialis commercial. Thanks for my morning smiles.

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  2. Like you, I've looked at those bathtub lovers and wondered, aren't they cold?

    And then there's the problem that each is in bathtub built for one. The symbolism of two people separated from each other by porcelain-clad casiron gives me shivers--and not the good kind.All the Cialis in the world isn't going to help those two. They're at a dead end.

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  3. Yeah! I made Christina laugh! When I told my husband I was writing a blog about the Cialis ads and mentioning his name, he was like HEY, don't let anyone think I need that stuff. No worries, dear, your virility is intact. Your horny old coots thing cracked me up and I love your suggested end of the commercial. Maybe you should suggest that to the dysfunction powers that be!

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  4. Mary Margaret,
    Those bathtubs create more questions than they answer, don't they? It's all about logistics! And the symbolism is definitely not about scoring. It's about bathing. Separately. Outside. Shiver.

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  5. LOL!!!The bathtubs sort of freak me out, too! I think two people in one hot tub would have been better.
    Romantic to me is also doing things that need to be done without being asked, but the four hour erection--without the benefit of medication--would be over the top fabulous!!!!
    Don't bring me flowers, bring on the hot sex!

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  6. Oh Cheryl, you cracked me up!!!!! FOUR HOURS? Okay that is NOT romantic to me. That is ATHLETIC.

    I love hearing that those bathtubs are a freak out to most of us. Maybe as romance writers we need to help these folks out. Should we volunteer to offer some pointers to the Cialis marketing folks? Okay, I know, that was a terrible pun. Tee hee!

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  7. I confess I always turn away when the stupid viagra/cialis ads come on, so have never seen the bathtub one. But, you are right Marie, that is ust plain WRONG! I worry for the ad-folks who made that one up. How sad must their love life be, ya know? Their spouses probably have to read our books to make up for what is lost at home! Ha!!

    My husband is the romantic one far better than me. Always has been. Man, could I tell stories! I was suspicious for a long time, back when we were dating even! I am used to the spontaneous flowers and foot massages now though. And, I have written a lot of that into my version of Mr. Darcy. He is quite over-the-top romantic, and probably no one alive is truly like that, but for a novel it is fun!

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  8. Well, gee, Marie! I didn't mean CONTINUOUS!!!!! I'd let him take a break now and then for, oh, I dunno, ice cream, maybe?

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  9. LOL Cheryl! I am relieved to hear you are not a, um, marathoner.... HAHA! There's always whipped cream, too. I'm just saying....

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  10. The bathtub picture is better than the "Viva Viagra" song. Ugh!!!!

    Romance makes your heart beat fast, your skin warm and you just can't stop smiling.

    Linda

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  11. *snork* Nope, never held hands between bathtubs; not even sure we've held hands in the same bathtub! Those commercials are unintentionally entertaining ;) And thank God for TiVo!

    As for romance, I think my husband is more of a small but consistent gestures person--he lets me sleep in as often as he can, he lets me use the family computer in the evenings, he brings home chocolate... :)

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  12. Linda,
    I love listening to my ten-year-old son singing VIVA VIAGRA at the top of his longs. A real highlight of my life! I like your definition of romance!

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  13. Fedora!
    You are funny!! I can't recall holding hands in the SAME bathtub either... Hmm, must think about that. Thanks for coming by!

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  14. "Romance makes your heart beat fast, your skin warm and you just can't stop smiling." Beautiful Linda. You should be a writer! *grin*

    I like what Fedora said as well. That is my husband. He is a flowers and poetry guy from time to time, but mostly it is those little but Oh-so-important gestures that make me smile and feel tingly.

    As for the tub: definitely not the separate tubs, oh no! But even the same...not so sure. I like to bathe alone, thank you very much! Never wanted to 'do it' in a hot tub either. Of course, they were always public/hotel ones anyway and the very thought is just too icky! Maybe if we had our own I might give it a whirl to see if it all it is cracked up to be. OK, TMI...got it!

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  15. LOL Sharon! Today's theme definitely seems to be TMI!!! Thanks for sharing!

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  16. *AHEM*
    Take a closer look at that picture, Marie. There are FAUCETS on those bathtubs, so no naked bucket brigade needed. (hides snort of laughter)

    As a matter of fact, I have been to that resort, or one like it in the Napa Valley. NO, NOT for a Cialis commercial, people!!!

    The water is from a hot spring and is naturally warm. They also have a HUGE (as in seats about 20) hot tub in an area adjacent to the tubs. And YES! I wore my swimsuit! EWWW! Never know WHO sat in those tubs before you did!

    And for the record, I do not think stewing in hot water is romantic or sexy.

    Agree with Linda, that Viva Viagra song is THE WORST!

    AC

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  17. Funny post. Lots of fun. Two bathtubs outside, not romantic, but I once visited (as in was escorted on a tour of) a hotel along the beach from ours where each room had its own little heart shaped hot tub on the balcony overlooking the bay (and not over looked by anyone since it was on a cliff) warm starlit nights, warm sunny afternoons, bright mornings, lunch...... ROOOMMMAAANNNTTTIC.
    Still dreaming of the day I can afford it.

    Otherwise I make do with excellent champagne, or a box of chocolates, or a quick kiss behind a closed door and no need for little pills to get things going.

    lol

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  18. I prefer the naked bucket line visual to the oh-so-mundane fawcets, Aunty! Tell us the truth, did you star in a Cialis commercial?

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  19. Michele,
    The way you descibe it is much less yucky than the commercial! It does sound romantic, especially with no little pill required to jump-start things!

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  20. Does holding hands in the same tub count?

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  21. Great post Marie I haven't seen this add so I will take your word for it.
    I totally agree that you don't need flowers etc all the time I have been married for 31 years and we are still very hapy normal everyday people who laugh and cry together have disagreements but that is all part of life we have had our ups and downs but I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  22. Michele, is the resort you are describing Las Brisas in Acapulco? Oh wait, I don't think they have a beach. But each room does have it's own private outdoor "pool" for two. They also give guests lil pink jeeps to drive around town. Nothing like marking you for a honeymooner, which most guests at Las Brisas are.

    Helen, super congrats on your 31 years! Only in books is the HEA happy EVERY day. :-P

    And No, Marie, Aunty has never been in a commercial for Cialis or anything else. THANKYOUVERYMUCH! Writing about romance is way public enough!

    AC

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  23. Las Brisas is one of the resorts my husband and I stayed at on our honeymoon! That was over 22 years ago now. The pools were not heart shaped though, at least not in our room. Very swank, and we did not care at all if everyone knew we were on our honeymoon! Pink jeep and all! Aw, memories. :)

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  24. KEWL, Sharon!

    You are the second person I know who honeymooned at Las Brisas!

    AC

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  25. Oh man--I HATE those commericals.

    I must admit I'm not super romantic, but after reading all of your books, I'm getting some ideas :)

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  26. LOL Marie!

    That's sooo funny. I hate that every time I watch TV I end up explaining to my youngest why those people are in bathtubs in the middle of nowhere, or trying to get that damn Viva Viagra song out of my head.

    Robin :)

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