Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Leaky sinks and romance
Romance often begins by a splashing waterfall and ends over a leaky sink.
The ubiquitous Anonymous said that, and I have to agree. Yes, I'm a romance novelist, and yes, I believe in Happily Ever Afters, but this marriage business is hard work. Take it from me. Or no, take it from The Husband, who has suffered many, many indignities from me over the past 20 years. (Don't worry. He's repaid them all in full.)
The marriage started out all rainbows and puppies, as all marriages should. But pretty soon, I was letting him see my washed-out hosiery as it dripped-dried over the tub, and he was belching at the table without bothering to even say, "Not bad manners, just good vittles."
(Okay, so for the first year, he was probably belching from the indigestion he garnered from my poor cooking. I'm letting the belching slide.)
That is not to say that I don't love The Husband, and I surely hope he still loves me -- in spite of my bad cooking and my messy house and the fact that I tend to get welded to a laptop at an alarmingly frequent rate.
But romance ... ah, romance. We have traded it in (pretty much) for a good working-in-tandem partnership that makes sure all the big bases are covered.
And you know? I know what that's worth. It's priceless. Give me a man who will call me up and remind me to pick up the dry cleaning or totally understands my propensity to forget mailing off bills -- yes, give me that over a Romeo who will whisper sweet nothings and let the errands slide. I'm a pragmatic sort of gal.
I didn't realize that my preferences really slid to this even in literature. I want my relationships gritty. Real. Honest. I'm currently reading a perfectly lovely book (whose title will go unnamed because I don't want to slam the author). The problem? The love interest is just too perfect. Too romantic. Too understanding. In my head, I'm thinking, "OK, when's the other shoe going to drop?"
And of course with my comic-book-violence imagination, I'm thinking, "He'll turn out to be a cross-dressing ladies' man with three wives."
The hero hasn't revealed any size XXX negligees in his closet, and it doesn't look like he will. I think it's safe to say that this is a "perfect" gentleman.
Still, too much perfect romance in a novel, at least to me, is like too much cotton candy. Eventually? As my wonderful Aunt Lou used to say, "Well, now, after awhile, ya just get a bait of it."*
What do you think? What's the perfect balance of real man vs. Perfect Man in a romance novel?
Bait - south Georgia slang that means enough, a surfeit, up to your gullet.