Tuesday, October 05, 2010

If I am a Romance Heroine

Romantic comedy movies get a bad rap, probably because there really are a lot of bad ones and the people who make them seem to think you can churn out any old garbage and get away with it. But a serious student of them, like myself, can pull out many life lessons from them. Hey, maybe I ought to write an advice book on the subject! At the very least, I could do the romance heroine version of the Evil Overlord List. So, here are the life lessons I've pulled from romance novels, romantic films and romantic comedies.

If I'm ever a romance heroine ...

1) If I meet someone I really like, I will exchange contact information with him.
I won't trust in fate to bring us together again. I won't arrange a meeting at a certain date in a certain place, with no plan B, in case I want to meet up but can't on that day. Things come up that may be entirely outside anyone's control, and I don't want to miss my chance at happiness because someone has a death in the family on the appointed day or gets hit by a taxi on the way to the rendezvous or he doesn't find the used book I scribbled my number in and then sold. It sounds lovely to say that it's up to fate or the will of God, and that if you're meant to be together, you'll find each other again, but that's actually wimping out and avoiding making your own choices. I can just hear God saying, "Hey, I brought you together in the first place. What more do you people want?" I'll set up the romantic meeting a year from now, but I'll have a backup plan in case something happens and we still want to see each other again.

2) I will make my decision about who I really love before the wedding ceremony.
The wedding ceremony is not the time to be wavering about which person I really love. If I'm wavering at all, then maybe I shouldn't be planning a wedding. If I'm still pining over someone I believe to be unavailable, maybe I shouldn't be planning to marry someone else. Not that I should put my life on hold while waiting for the unattainable person to become available, but if I'm able to be that sidetracked by the idea of someone else, it's probably a good sign that I'm not really into the person I'm planning to marry. If I know that I'd leave the person I'm marrying if the one I really love became available, then I won't get married. The other person deserves more than to be a consolation prize who'll get tossed aside as soon as the real prize comes up.

3) I will listen to the explanation.
If someone I love or even really like tries to tell me something, I will listen. It's probably important. If I don't listen, then I don't have the right to be angry at him for not telling me when I hear it later from someone else. If I get a piece of bad news about the person I love, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and give him the chance to explain. It may not be what I thought, and it doesn't say much about what I think about him if I'm able to leap directly to the worst possible conclusion. Before taking action based on an assumption, I will ask about it, even if I'm afraid of the answer. Better to ask, "So, who was that woman you were having lunch with today?" and then give him a chance to answer than to cancel the wedding and return all the gifts because I think he's cheating, and then find out it was just his sister.

4) I won't make assumptions based on superficial appearances.
This applies to first impressions -- the "gardener" I meet when I arrive at the grand estate almost always turns out to be an earl who takes a great personal interest in the grounds of his estate -- as well as to things like that lunch with the sister. Seriously, this lesson has been showing up since ancient mythology, it's a staple in folklore around the world, and fictional characters still manage to entirely miss the possibility that the poor person might be a rich person/king/god in disguise. Meanwhile, that person he's having lunch with is almost never a fling. If it were a fling, I wouldn't catch him so easily. If I find him in bed with the other woman, then yeah, I'll have a hissy fit and call things off, but if I see him in a restaurant with someone, I will go up and talk to him and introduce myself to the other woman before I call off the wedding. (I don't know how well this one holds up in real life, but I don't know that I'll run into that many grubby gardening earls. I might run into nerdy software billionaires, though.)

5) I won't get hung up on differences in one particular thing.
So I love weddings (I don't, but I'm being hypothetical here) and he hates them. How big a difference would that really make in our day-to-day life together? And does it really mean what I think it means about the kind of person he is? Maybe he just hates making a big fuss in public. It doesn't mean he can't be romantic. Likewise, I won't reject anyone offhand just because he doesn't like my favorite movie, doesn't like my favorite band, went to the wrong school, cheers for the wrong team, has money, doesn't have money, etc. Though I might make an exception if he went to Texas A&M. Some mixed marriages just don't work. And if he doesn't like Firefly, then we might not be very compatible. Okay, maybe there is something to this, after all, but only for important stuff, not for something silly like whether you like weddings. And if he is otherwise perfect, he probably would enjoy Firefly if he got the chance to watch it.

6) I can probably wait to tell him I love him.
Unless he's moving out of town forever or getting married to someone else that day, I don't have to chase him across town to tell him right now. And if he is moving out of town forever or getting married that day, isn't it a little selfish to expect him to change his life plans at the very last second, just because I've suddenly decided I love him? If I follow rule #1 and have exchanged contact information, then I can take my time to work things out and make a decision that's not a spur-of-the-moment thing. If he's following rule #2 and he's still getting married, then that means he's made his decision and disrupting his wedding to tell him that I love him would be tacky.

7) Sex can probably wait, too.
If I hated someone until just a second ago or was deeply involved with -- even engaged to -- someone else until I had a big epiphany a few minutes ago or if I've just run away from my own wedding, jumping into bed with someone else right away might not be the best idea. If I've only just now decided that I don't really loathe this person, after all, then there's a strong possibility that when the heat of the moment fades, I'll go back to loathing that person. Meanwhile, rebounds seldom go well. If it's for real, it can wait, and maybe taking some time to get used to the idea of this person and how I feel before we take the relationship to a sexual level will make the relationship more solid. I'll be able to tell whether it's really love or just lust.

And now I seem to have ruined the plots of most romantic comedy movies, especially the more recent ones. But if you eliminate all these things and then force yourself to come up with some new conflicts, maybe you'll get something good.

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