Tag: Opinion

Topic: What does romance mean to you?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

I think there’s a difference between “romance” and “romantic.”

To me, “romantic” refers to a moment in time.  An act that somehow conjures up visions of low lighting (candles maybe), roof top dinners (not that I’ve EVER experienced that), flowers (unexpectedly arriving with a loving note) or a presentation of a small, unmarked box with something sparkly inside (along with some low lighting and music in the background perhaps?).

It’s an expression of our love that happens at a specific time and place as in “we went out for a candlelit dinner last night and it was so romantic.”  Or…”he got me flowers every day last week”…”he’s soooo romantic.”

It’s when one person goes out of their way to set up a situation that says…”this is all about you.”  It makes us feel all warm inside with the knowledge that we’ve just been wrapped up tight in someone else’s admiration (adoration/love/wanting) of us…combining surprise, attention to detail and even ambience.

It’s romantic.

Now romance is a different thing for me all together.

It’s a process.  It happens over time.

It’s the act of being in love.    Like a constant state of being wooed, and wooing the other person, even after each has gotten comfortable with the other.

It’s about maintaining the flirt.

The blush.

The giggle.

The anticipation.

As I think back on it…I believe my parents lived a life of romance.  They believed in being in love.  Never taking each other for granted.  Keeping it fresh and alive.  Always flirting.

Don’t get me wrong…they had their ups and downs, their times when daily life overwhelmed them…but they would come out on the other side even more in love and exuding even more romance because (I think) they got through it together.

So I know it can happen.  But it’s not typical.

We usually refer to the beginning of our relationships as the time of our romance.  When we didn’t know each other well enough to take each other for granted…and were still trying to impress each other so that we could spend more time exploring one another.

That’s the exciting time.  It’s fresh.  It’s new.

But once we’ve gone through the hunt and landed our prey, we tend to let it go. (And I mean that in the most romantic way possible.)

But imagine what it would be like if we tried to maintain the romance.

If we kept up the flirt.

If we created situations where we didn’t quite know what to expect (and I’m not talking about going to a bar and pretending you don’t know each other).

If we infused a certain amount of surprise into our relationship…on an ongoing basis.

If we set up romantic moments other than just on Valentine’s Day.

IMAGINE what our long-term relationships would be like.

We might even blush with excitement like it was all fresh and new.  OY.

For me that’s romance.

I was going to start this post by talking about flowers and candlelight and walks on the beach and Richard Gere climbing a hooker’s fire escape (sorry: EX-hooker).  But really?  That’s not romance to me.  I don’t connect with or relate to those examples at all.  I’m not saying I’ve never gotten (and appreciated) a bouquet of roses, but that’s not my definition of romance.

Since I was having some trouble with this question, I did the cliche thing and looked “romance” up in the dictionary.  What came up surprised me:

{From Merriam-Webster}:
a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love and adventure, or the supernatural (2) : a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious (3) : a love story especially in the form of a novel

{From Dictionary.com}: a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention.

If you go further down, romance is defined as wooing or courting someone, but for the most part the dictionary gods define it as that section in the bookstore overflowing with paperbacks and pictures of men in kilts.

(Seriously – romance authors love to write about Scottish guys.)

(I know this because I work in a bookstore… not because I love to read about Scottish guys.)

My definition is a tad different.

I think that romance is anything that makes you or someone you care about feel loved and special.

Example from my relationship:

My mom gave Mike and me each a small heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day.  When I got home from work yesterday I asked Mike if he wanted to open his (so that I’d feel less guilty about opening mine… and having the contents for lunch…).  He turned to me and said, “Ally, each box has three pieces.  Why don’t you pick the three best, and take those for yourself.  Leave the ones you don’t want for me.”

(Awwww…)

So I ate a delicious chocolate covered caramel, then told Mike that I wanted him to have the other one because it was so yummy that I thought he should get to eat one, too.

That?  Is romance.

It’s not adventurous or exciting or heroic (well… the dude did offer to give up chocolate covered caramel, which makes him my hero).

It’s not really impressive.

But it made me feel special and loved.  And my leaving that second piece for him made him feel special and loved.

And it made us smile.

It may not end up as a paperback… but it’ll do just fine…

 

I have so many…it’s hard to narrow them all down to the biggest….which probably says more about me than about the peeves themselves.

But given this forum, I will certainly try.

In general, my pet peeves ALL have to do with noises.  Not just any noises.  People noises.

You know.  The kinds of sounds that people make that annoy, disturb and grate on your nerves down to your soul.

Like cracking knuckles.

OMG I hate it when people crack their knuckles.  I physically stop and turn and glare when I hear someone make that sound of bone joints being pushed in a downward motion until they involuntarily crack…out loud.

OY…it drives me nuts.

Some members of my family (you know who you are) would probably be much happier if they were “allowed” to crack their poor innocent knuckles in my presence, but alas…they know it will never happen.   Because it is the most god awful noise on the planet, and I’m not a nice enough person to “let it go” in favor of letting them indulge in something that drives me so insane.

Because it’s really about me.  Duh.

They’ve tried to tell me that they crack their knuckles “unconsciously.”  Like the urge to move the little bones in their hands until they snap, crackle and pop comes over them in some uncontrollable way.

I don’t think so.

If I want to let loose with an ear screeching squeal (like a panicked dolphin call)…of which I’ve been known to do in the presence of “unconscious” knuckle cracking…I do so with absolute intent.  There’s nothing unconscious about it.

So a word to the wise…when you’re near me, don’t crack your knuckles or I might start squealing at the top of my lungs.

Pet peeve #2…Cracking Gum (notice a pattern here).

Who really likes to be around someone who’s cracking their gum?

I mean really.  No one can crack their gum quietly or with grace.  No…it takes a good amount of jaw thrashing to move their gum strategically to the back of their jaws, while forcing an air bubble into the stretchy fibers, and then biting down at just the right moment to achieve the perfect crack.

It’s a disgusting habit that takes years to perfect…and I have to admit it…I’d like to kill anyone whose worked that hard to perfect it.

Really.

I actually almost lost a job once because I leapt over my desk at a co-worker who had been cracking her gum for 4 straight hours.   No warning…just leapt and went for her throat (her mouth actually to rip out the stupid gum) before another co-worker grabbed me and shook me to my senses.

Which brings me to my last biggest peeve.

Sniffing.

Don’t you think that people who sniff should be shot?

There is no reason for it.  We have tissues.  We have sleeves (I know it’s disgusting but it’s better than sniffing!).  So I have absolutely no tolerance for people who sniff.

Unless they’re at a funeral, in which case they get a sniffing pass.

Or they’re really sick with a raging sinus infection and a temperature of over 103 degrees (no less).

Otherwise…there is no excuse for sniffing.

Or cracking your knuckles or your gum.

Here it is.  The post where we talk about all of the things that annoy us, all of the things that make us shudder, the things that that make us silently (usually) judge others…

We all have our “pet peeves”, and I think that a lot of them can be pretty universal.  I don’t think I know anyone who loves people who talk on their cell phones in the movie theater.

(OK, maybe you like that (or DO that), but I’m thinking the majority of people out there tend to be annoyed by it.)

And I also think that the things that annoy us can be passed down from our parents.  At least that’s the case for me.

(I’m not saying that it’s genetic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my loathing for the sound of people chewing or swallowing is programmed into my DNA.)

I grew up with parents who shared their opinions.  For my beautiful, loving mother, that meant we couldn’t get away with ANYTHING that annoyed her.

If we popped our gum or cracked our knuckles, we got a DEATH STARE (every mom has one), and I learned very early on that you don’t want the DEATH STARE.

So I quickly figured out how to avoid it, and soon those things became annoying to me, too.

So I’m betting that most of the things on her list are also on mine.

But in particular:

I can’t stand noises like nose sniffing or throat clearing.

I hate (HATE) hypocritical people.

Snobbery drives me crazy.

And one that’s manifested recently for me is people who share inane, pointless information on social networks.  Sure, I’ve been known to do it myself, but in the last couple of months I’ve become increasingly ticked off by it.  The truth is that I don’t care what you ate for breakfast or who you ate that breakfast with.  It’s gotten to the point where I’ve had to severely limit my time online because it was affecting my happiness (and probably my blood pressure)…

Speaking of pet peeves related to social networks: the other thing that annoys me to no end (and I know I’m not the only one), are status updates that are purposefully vague and that beg the question “WHAT HAPPENED???”  For the love of the Facebook gods, people, stop leaving status updates that say “In the ER…” or “My life is over” or “My heart is broken because the man I’ve loved for 13 years did this to me…”  JUST STOP IT.  I know that the ability to share these things (and evoke sympathy) is tempting, but either be explicit (as in “I’m in the ER but it’s because I got a pencil stuck in my ear again, so no big deal”) or keep it off of the internet.

(Ahem.)

I would apologize for the rant, but let’s face it, pet peeves do that to us.  My mom’s stare didn’t happen without passion and fury and all of the pain that the sound of cracking knuckles brings up for her.

Pet peeves make us rant and rave and TYPE IN ALL CAPS and unleash the DEATH STARE…

Passion is good.

And if these stupid, annoying things are what get my blood boiling… well, then I have it pretty damn easy.

Plus, I really, really like typing in all caps…

(PS: If we’re Facebook friends, I’m not talking about your Facebook updates.  Your Facebook updates are always awesome and witty and relevant.)

(PPS: Please still be my friend.)

My folks (especially my mom) had some very definite ideas about child rearing.  When my brother and I were young, there was a certain formality to the way things were done; how we were supposed to act; when we woke/ate/went to bed; and even how we were dressed – that was typical of the times.  Not surprisingly…our dad worked long hours in important jobs (of course), and mom ruled the home (and was the primary disciplinarian).

The “strict” nature of it all came in the form of discipline and manners.  My mom was a no nonsense woman when it came to her children behaving properly.  We were NEVER allowed to talk back, or (God Forbid) utter the word “No” to our parents…EVER.

Of course I tried it…once, and ended up with a mouth full of soapy water.   YUK.

From that point on, the threat of “don’t you say that – or use that tone – to me or I’ll wash your mouth out with soap and water” (lips pierced and wagging her finger at me) took on a true and ominous tone to which I would quickly back down (no matter what).

There were a few “spankings” along the way (until I got too big to fit across my mom’s lap and we both realized how silly the whole thing was) and more than a few banishings to my room.  But nothing much more in terms of actual “punishments.”

The worst was when my mom would get so mad at us that she would send us to our rooms and go to the kitchen and begin emptying the dishes (or pots) from the cabinets and begin washing them all by hand, while yelling at the top of her lungs (to nobody in particular) about how wrong/stupid/rotten we were on that particular occasion.

When the ranting began…we knew we had crossed the line.

As we got older, rules began to be placed on our comings and goings, and I started to feel the strict boundaries that my folks would place around me until I left for college.  You know…the regular things like curfews, restrictions on sleepovers, and the differences in “school day” activities vs. “weekend” activities.

The hardest was the curfew.  I HATED having to be home by 11:00 p.m. (on weekends!) all through high school, but I think I hated the “rationale” for the curfew more than the actual time I had to be home.

“Mom…why can’t I just stay out to midnight like everyone else!?!”

“Because I want to go to sleep at 11:00 and I can’t go to bed unless you’re home.”

“Sure you can…I don’t care if you’re up when I get home.”

I CARE”  “So you’ll be home at 11:00.”  “PERIOD.”

REALLY???? Can parents really get away with that?

You bet.  I did.  (More on that later)

I too was a stickler for discipline and manners (I am my mother’s daughter) as I wanted my kids to be polite and well behaved…mostly so that we could all go anywhere or do anything together without me having to worry whether or not the kids would act out (and because that’s how I was raised).

Oh they had their moments of bickering and snitty tones and slacking off around the house.

But I swear…they were amazingly good kids.

And sometimes I think it might have been despite my parenting.

I yelled a lot, especially when they were young.

I took the whole ranting thing I grew up with and raised it to an art form.  And I regret having yelled at them so much.

Because I think I scared them.

But as my kids aged…I think I figured out how to parent with a modicum of strictness (and yelling) mixed in with a healthy dose of humor and love.

But I still think I was pretty strict (mean).

They had curfews ‘til 11:00 on weekends too.  OK…Ally had it all through high school but I’m pretty sure we relaxed the rules when AJ got there (and I’m sure that inconsistency and lack of fairness will come back to bite me again and again…)

But I don’t think it ruined them.

They’re really wonderful people.

I’ve never been grounded.  (Really.)  But I don’t think that’s because my parents were especially lenient on anything – it was because I never did anything worthy of strict punishment.

I just chose to spend an incredible amount of time in my room.  I didn’t go out.  I didn’t run around after hours.  I didn’t lie.

And this didn’t happen because my parents were incredibly strict, either.

I was just a really, really good kid.

(I have sources to back me up on this.)

The truth is, I never had the desire to push their buttons or take advantage.

(Well, I didn’t really have a desire to actively push their buttons.  Like, I never took the car without asking or climbed out of the window in the middle of the night.  I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of them with the tantrums or typical teenage talking-back and bitching about things…)

I think that I would describe my parents as “laid back”.

They were our friends, but also clearly Mom and Dad.

They yelled sometimes, but I don’t look back on any of my childhood and think, damn, there was a lot of yelling.  I think yelling is just a part of every family.  And compared to other families I knew/know?  Our yelling was extremely tame.

They were never afraid to say “no”, but they chose to say “yes” a lot of the time.  And I think that’s the important part: saying “no” isn’t a bad thing.  Saying “no” is necessary, especially when a kid is young.  I see kids who have zero respect for their folks, and I can’t help but think that it has something to do with how much their parents let them get away with, especially when they’re young.

(I’m not saying to go all Tiger Mom on kids, either, but I think that there’s a balance.)

(My parents were pros at finding that balance.)

I had the normal rules that all kids have.  No making a mess in public, no talking back (I actually did break that rule a lot), manners, curfews…

If I ever had royally screwed up or pushed some boundaries or broken a single rule, then I assume my parents would have punished me in a traditional way (no TV, extra chores…).  Nothing too severe, but I doubt they would have let me off the hook.

When it came down to it, I just never, ever wanted to disappoint them.  I don’t know if that’s something that’s just a part of me – as a person – or if they ingrained that in me from the beginning.

(Maybe they hypnotized me as an infant or something…)

Either way, I’m very happy with how my parents raised me.

(I’m not just saying that.)

If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to raise my own kids in a similar manner.

I want to be friends with my kids, but I also don’t want to let them walk all over me.  I know it’s not easy to pull off, but – lucky me – I’ve got some great teachers.

(Seriously, I’m not just saying that.)

(Or, you know, maybe I just got so traumatized that I’ve blocked a bunch of horrible things out… I guess that’s always a possibility.)