Missing in Action: Romance

Romance. n. A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love … quality that makes something appeal strongly to the imagination, and sets it apart from the mundane.

(Oxford English Dictionary)

I wished for love and romance on my recent birthday. When asked how I’d define romance, it dawned on me that my definition might not fare well with our fast-paced, changing world.

Listen, I’m not into the Harlequin novels, okay. I’m a born-and-bred cosmopolitan girl who is used to walk, talk, and think fast. As any single girl past the age 28 knows all too well, relationships need more than flowery romance to work out.  And frankly am not keen with wishy-washy men spouting cheesy sweetnothings 24/7 either. Yet I’m witnessing what I sadly call the gradual death of romance around me.

Relationships have been fickle and feeble since the day Adam and Eve tried to co-decide what to do with that tantalizing apple. And as the world goes around faster these days, speed often throws a budding relationship, the phase it’s most fickly at, a spin so wild it gets blasé before it fully blooms.

I love instant gratification when it involves chicken noodles, ATM, liquid eyeliner, or the urge to watch Glee at midnights. But I want to savor a relationship, yet in these days of casual hookups not many know anymore the timeless grace of actually ‘courting someone’, let alone ‘wooing someone’.

Gone are the days when there’s the momentum-building timeline of what Hollywood dubs as ‘meet-cute’. A boy meets a girl upon which sparks fly, the first phone call, the ensuing first date before things develop. There’s the pending, butterfly-in-stomach, savory moments of sweet Saturday night dates or lazy strolls on Sunday afternoons, before things get fast-tracked into M-rate and the may-I-pee-while-you’re-in-shower stage.

Because of tight schedule and insane traffic I understand if guys don’t always pick up girls for a date. I know how to drive or hail cabs. Yet it’s sad when a man won’t escort a woman home afterwards, unless when it’s a blind date goes sour before desserts arrive. The chats in the privacy of that ride home can get more revealing, that may just result in another date, or if she lives alone, a nightcap.

Social media is flourishing that many are on two social networking sites. And it’s all great for getting news, rekindling old friendships, or making new friends. Yet so easy the use of email, SMS, chat, phone messenger or Twitter’s Direct Message that now it’s a ‘ping’ rather than a phone call, which somehow is considered more energy-consuming, to arrange for a date. Fewer seem to do it on agreeable time, which is even sadder since, let’s admit, calling past normal bedtime is mostly a bootycall. The even rarer is the courteous pleasantry afterwards that I’m convinced only in Hallmark-produced movies nowadays men will place a call to a woman or an order to florist to thank for a recent date. 

This isn’t boy bashing, okay. Women have also done our fair share of taking relationships, or sincere affection, for granted. I know of once card-carrying members of fitness or beauty centers who would forego a simple dab of lipstick, let alone twice-weekly aerobic class, once settled comfortably into a relationship. There are others peering through overly-practical magnifying glasses in their perennial quest to win the next trophy mate that the only “bunga” (flowers) matter is either “bunga bank” (bank interests), the name of a certain TV celebrity, or the latest line offered by an Italian jewelry brand.

Often it’s the little things that factor in for relationships to quickly lose romantic nuance and trapped into daily humdrum. We all have made those mistakes, often unconsciously. I may be promoting the revival of romance but I’ve even caught myself logging into Twitter when a date was turning rather stale. What matters more is to instill awareness of what we do, and make positive adjustments afterwards.

Venture out of the cliché pink roses to the ethereal white lilies or lush purple hydrangeas, if that’s what ticks your sweetie. Don’t wait for birthdays or Valentine’s. Better paying regular attention to your darling’s favorite munchies than an annual grand gesture of overpriced sweets your darling can’t enjoy due to inborn allergies. Also better quality dates when both not constantly checking their smartphones, than swapping passwords to monitor each other’s online activities.

And it doesn’t have to be so staged and grandiose that pressures set in before you even try. A man once fervently lectured me on the century-long death of chivalry, while he also once looked in three countries for a fashion magazine for me, blissfully unaware that, whether intended or not, that magazine search was a certifiably romantic act.

Be sincere and remain so, even when the gestures unwelcome or the feelings unrequited. Romance alone doesn’t substitute for love, yet sincerity and genuine romance leave treasured footprints, sometimes long after the love has run its course. Woo with class, far from everyday cheesiness and coarseness that are readily provided 24/7 in this increasingly borderless, boundary-less, banal world.

To end in a romantic mood, allow me to quote something that has been passed down to us circa 12th century:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough / A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou / Beside me singing in the Wilderness / And Wilderness is Paradise enow. (Rubaiyat, Quatrain XI — Omar Khayyam)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Anybody wanna woo me? Wink, wink.                   

Published on: The Weekender (monthly mag The Jakarta Post), Feb 2011 ed., pg. 34.                                                                                

This entry was posted in Love & Romance, Virtual World. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Missing in Action: Romance

  1. Alika says:

    Hey Lynda,

    I miss you! drop a line when you have a moment. Your blog is so interesting – very funny! Sonia is engaged! Dennis and I are happily married – I am glad to report, especially in light of the trend you write about!

    - Alika.

  2. Alika says:

    Hello Lynda,
    I miss you! Your blog is witty and cute, though a little sad. I hope you are doing well. Sonia is engaged now, Priya is going to Oxford this year. Dennis and I are happily married I am glad to report, especially in light of the trend you write about :(

    Drop a line when you can .

    Lots of love,

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