The Myth is Romance

I was having a moment; a restless and frustrated moment. One of my girlfriends came to my rescue with the suggestion that my problem is I need some romance in my life.  What she proposed as romance was a novel entitled “Slave to Sensation”.  Spare me from girlfriends bearing romance novels.  I’m a cynic.

They started us early on the deception of romance.  They insidiously fed us a female fantasy built on lies and happy ever after fairy tales. Why didn’t we have pragmatic, feminist literature teachers to show us the error of the romantic dream?

I remember being a starry-eyed school girl in love with heroes like Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester with his incomparably manly demeanour, sitting astride a big black horse.  Ah, the symbolism! Or Heathcliff; I  longed to be carried off by Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff, the bad boy of the Bronte novels; a dark brooding lost soul; impossibly handsome, haunted, passionate, and intense.   And, who can forget Rhett Butler, the irresistibly charismatic and charming rogue.

That was when we were first introduced.  What did they turn into?   Heathcliff became a miserable abusive drunk.  Mr Rochester turned out to be lying adulterer with bigamist ambitions and Rhett Butler proved an egotistical philandering slaver. It always ends in disappointment; but the pursuit of that romantic illusion continues.

The early teens were Mills and Boon addiction; where each story is the same. They hate each other in the beginning. They love each other in the end.  We never fell in love with the over bearing arrogant Alpha-minor men who, later, passed through our lives.  It doesn’t happen like that.  Our innocence gets lost. Real life makes you cynical.  Sylvia Plath is real. Barbara Cartland is myth.

I remember the song ‘it’s raining men’. We girls used to dance around singing with joy.  And then, there was the grief and disappointment of betrayal we felt the first time we saw the video and realized that it wasn’t raining men at all; it was actually raining speedo clad nancy-boys in trench coats doing perfect ballerina pirouettes.

So now I have “Slave to Sensation” the story of a woman of icy character with dark honey toned skin and “hair that curls so wildly that she is forced to pull it into a severe plait every morning”.  Obvious imagery – this chick is suppressing or concealing a passion to which, no doubt, she will later give full vent. She encounters “the most dangerous man she’s ever seen”.  What makes him so dangerous?  He is Alpha; “pure lean muscle and tensile strength”.  

See what I mean?  Who has tensile strength?  Is that any way to describe a human being? Oh, and “her first impression of him is as something wild, barely leashed”.  So, he’s also passion repressed and will later give vent, and I suspect that it will take two hundred long, tedious, questionably written pages of thin, repetitive storyline before full vent is eventually given.  I don’t think I can stand it.

The blurb on the back of the book describes our protagonist as “a woman who will sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation”.

That’s the story?  Yep, that’s it, a sexually repressed ice maiden who meets a dangerous, barely leashed man with tensile strength who leads her into darkest temptation.  It just makes me impatient.  Besides, it’s ridiculous.  Do people get led you into things like ‘a taste of darkest temptation’?  Actually, if they’re talking about the name of a chocolate bar, I was led there last week.  It was Belgian chocolate.  It was delicious.

Half way into the first chapter of “Slave to Sensation” and I’m aggravated.  This sort of book creates and then feeds aggravation.  There are elements of such incomparable silliness.   The heroine has a bottom that is ‘a heart shaped enticement’, for heavens sake’.  Who describes a woman’s bottom? Is that the semi-literary parallel of tensile strength? Anyway, no one’s bottom is like that.  Bums are peachy, or pear shaped or big. That’s bums.

And then, to all of our incredulity, it is revealed that this man isn’t even a man.  Men, our author seems to have realised on her walk through life, cannot be romantic heroes any more.  Men are flawed.  Men are Mr Rochesters, Heathcliffs, and Rhett Butlers.  So, now we need something above men and our author has come up with a thing called ‘a changeling’. He is half man, half beast; the ultimate Alpha.

Our male protagonist morphs between man and panther which I’m sure, accounts for all that tensile strength.  And to add insult to intelligence he is a metro-sexual half man half beast. He wears cologne, designer gear and drives a sports car.  I’ll bet when he’s panther he pees on the carpet, leaves fur on the sofa, and chews the toes off her Jimmy Choos.  I am thoroughly unconvinced. I can’t read on.

Restlessness and frustration are restored.  I’m in need of psychic regeneration and truth; something befitting my mood.  I’m reaching for Sylvia Plath. She’s full of poetic madness, depression, perversity; and other stuff that a person can believe in.


About Tselane Tambo

I share myself in these desultory ramblings. It’s my thoughts and memories; some anecdotes and opinions. It’s an accidental autobiography. When you’ve meandered through these pages you’ll be within reach of a little piece of me. Thank you for dropping by.
This entry was posted in Nocturnal Ramblings of a Mind Unplugged. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Myth is Romance

  1. Thank you for this one, a laugh when I was crying, didn’t see it coming & by all means stop punishing yourself with the marshmallow text that leads to nothing. if Plath is your poison then by all means, anything but that.

  2. Charlene Smith says:

    A few weeks ago I saw the Smith Mountain Lake mansion of a woman who writes novels like the one you write about. It was the best Tuscan kitsch delusional women could pay for. The man I was with had organized staff to clean it’s 158 windows. Her husband is an electrician, she was a housewife, once. There is a lot to be said for writing at kitchen tables. Scalloped lawns, leapt and swept, and whoopeed all the way down to the water. All I could think of was what fabulous exercise it would be for one’s thighs to walk the long, curving path to the mansion and sit on the porch and drink sweet southern lemonade as the men you had hired with all that moolah swept and crept, and hammered and yammered about how much money women will pay for cheap pulp kak. I regret that while I love to be wined and dined and flattered, and given armfuls of flowers and expensive gifts, I just don’t have it within my generous heaving bosom to write, with a trembling, quivering hand how desirous I am to be swept off my feet (at this stage, it would probably break his back, either because of my weight or his back; age has its disadvantages). And so I will never own a southern mansion bought on unfulfilled desires. But I do hope to buy a Cambridge townhouse bought as a result of hard work, talent, and self belief. And the man? He’ll come. He’ll be a clever, fascinating man, at peace with himself, someone who enjoys clever women. They’re out there…

  3. Hahahaa! Loved it! The thing about reality is you can reach out and enfold it in the middle of the night. Fantasy may charge the imagination, however improbably, but the real thing warms the body and its memories in ways that leave fantasy flat.

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