When I was really young, my idea of perfect love was straight out of the pages of my aunt’s meticulous collection of Mill & Boon books. A man (and oh what a man he was) and a woman met in imperfect circumstances and waded through their disdain for each other inspite of their initial attraction. Eventually they fell so deeply in love that they were alright with losing those parts of themselves that had been most vital to their earlier identities. Yes there were the bits where they compromised on self respect and addressed each others’ genitals quite a lot more florally than feels right - but those were the bits you appreciated because you hadn’t yet been introduced to the internet and its vast reserves of porn.
Years later, when I had graduated to more important literature (and had internet access), I too scoffed along with everyone else at ‘those crappy softcore porn books’ but somewhere I knew it was still the kind of romance I longed for. Then I met a man (and oh what a man he was), disdain inspite of attraction happened, and eventually…well I fell in love. I have to believe he did too, just not like in the Harlequin romances.That was the first time I felt faith falter.
I realised that love is not as easy as just waking up from a coma after 2 years to find yourself in the arms of the woman who put you there in the first place. Or taking over a multinational conglomerate only to fall hard for your archrival’s disreputable lawyer. Love takes time, and effort and bus tickets and cold dinners and clipped conversations and did you pay the bill because I didn’t and if we have to bathe in icy water one more time I’m leaving you.
That was when I met another man. Make that boy, I met a boy. There wasn’t initial disdain or attraction. But the conversations were refreshing, the jokes original, the comfort unbelievable. And I wondered if those M&B writers weren’t being too single-minded – uneventful romances can be just as exhilarating. Here there were embarrassingly floral descriptions too. Only not out of passion, or even lust. But because we both knew a lot of different words. In the end, they were the death of us, especially since he was saying all those words to someone else too. And faith took a tumble good and proper.
I gave up on even tidy romances. I started taking solace in being left to my own devices because while they made for ennui sometimes, they never hurt. Then I met another boy. Our conversations were stilted, just like me he was smarting from his previous relationships, our interests couldn’t be more diverse and he was…vegetarian. Still we co-existed, enjoyed each others' unfamiliarity and I’ll say it: if this were indeed a Mills & Boon, I’d want to very badly skip to the unholy parts. But it never caught and I don’t know why. With each passing day, I saw our potential for being the love of each others’ lives dim.
And so here I am once more. Come full circle you might say. Wondering if Harlequin romances do happen and if I just need to wait it out. On the other hand, and not to put too fine a point on it, my aunt did die a spinster.