No Romance For Me, Please
Imagine the scene….
A balmy February evening with a luxurious yacht skimming along the water. On board are couples in love. To surprise Jane, John has two tickets for this Valentine’s Day moonlit cruise around the harbor.
On the drive to the dock, John remains tight lipped, frustrating Jane. She anxiously clutches the bouquet of her favorite flowers, wondering what he has planned for her, but knowing that whatever it is, she will like it. He just knows her so well.
They board the yacht with the other happy pairs and then settle together hand-in-hand at the railing, leaning out to the waves as they disappear from view in the boat’s wake. The lights of the city sparkle in the distance, and the sea air blows a gentle caress across Jane’s face and through her hair.
John takes Jane’s hand and leads her to the centre of the deck. Then, he gets down on one knee in front of all the passengers, pulls out The Box with The Ring inside and says, “Jane, I love you, will you marry me?”
With a squeal, she cries, “Yes!”
He rises, slips the ring onto her finger, and immediately, she wraps her arms around him and covers him in kisses. A round of spontaneous applause breaks out on the yacht, and the other couples cheer and whistle. She basks in the good wishes and attention of her fellow travelers–the adoration, the love, the romance.
It could not have been more spectacular if she had planned it herself. It was perfect….
Oh, please! Give me a break from such sappy romance!
I can see you rolling your eyes now. It sounds like the absolute worst movie cliché from some cheap popcorn Romcom or a film about a Season in a Famous City that will remain nameless. But incredibly, it’s not. My cousin was proposed to in this exact manner. She really couldn’t have been happier, and for the record, she has been married for three years.
Or is it four? Whatever, it doesn’t matter.
The truth is that this kind of grand, public proposal is a cliché for a reason. There are romantics out there (of both genders) who revel in the fantasy of it and secretly hope that one day it will happen to them, too.
“She actually said yes?” I asked in disbelief when I was told about the proposal. Then I remembered it was my cousin, and I took back the question. Of course she said “yes.” Being the centre of attention, having a man make the big gesture is exactly what she always wanted from the men in her life. And she’s not the only one. I know a lot of other women who would have gladly said “yes” to that proposal. A lot of them are my friends, they are typical romantics, and they love the idea of the storybook fairytale.
I, for one, couldn’t think of a worse thing to happen to me. If it had been me that night, I probably would have flung myself overboard just to get away. But not before I gave an emphatic “no” as my answer.
I’d like to think any guy who got to the point of wanting propose to me would know me well enough to realize that a public spectacle would be his quickest route to rejection. I don’t like the limelight, and I conduct my private life in private, with no relationship status updates on Facebook, gossip circulating through all of our acquaintances and weeping sessions with the girls when he isn’t a preconceived notion of “perfect.” In matters of the heart, I am just too pragmatic for romance and the idea of perfection, which is an illusion.
That’s not to say I don’t understand my friends’ desire for roses, chocolates, jewelry and a giant card on Valentine’s Day, their love of walks on the beach under the stars, and candlelit dinners at fancy restaurants. But it’s also not what everyone wants. I don’t feel the need to enrich Hallmark, sand is cold and damp at night, and candles are smoky. Plus, I don’t see very well at the best of times without flickering flames making it worse. I don’t want a pageant of a proposal like my cousin, it’s not me. And don’t ask my dad for my hand in marriage. He wouldn’t know what I’d like to eat for breakfast, let alone who would make a suitable life partner. Ask me, and have the respect and love to do it in private, just the two of us.
To me, romance is overrated. Anniversaries don’t matter. Flowers are dead things which start to smell in a few days. Valentine’s Day is one of the most generic days of the year. By all means, celebrate your love with billions of other people. I won’t stop you. I just won’t be a part of it.
To me, that’s not what love is about. I do want love. I just want to cherish it everyday. I’d like the guy to know the names of my favorite books and why they are my favorites and be able to discuss them because they are important to me. I’d like him to remember my birthday, because that’s the day I was born and that fact makes him glad and want to celebrate that specific moment. And if he is going to give me a present, I’d like it to be something that he knows I will enjoy, not flowers that wither or chocolates that I don’t eat or want taking up residence on my thighs.
I don’t want romance. I want effort.
One day, I’d like to have a proposal from someone to whom the answer will automatically be “yes,” because “Will you marry me?” is just a formality. And he’ll bring a ladder with him, because that’s part of the proposal, and he’ll know why it’s funny.
But “romance” won’t be a part of it.