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Isn’t It Romantic? (Not)

Happy Valentine’s Day, to those who celebrate. I tend to find the holiday annoying because it seems so artificial. Celebrate your love on a day that means something to you, by doing something that means something to you, not by doing the expected things (flowers, chocolate, dinner) just because the calendar says so (aided by massive ad campaigns).

The other thing I find annoying is that this is when everyone pulls out the “look at these romantic things!” articles, and most of them are really off-base. The lists of “romantic” books tend to be lists of books written by men that are definitely not romance novels. Many of them are “guy” romances, which means the couple has a brief time of passion before either someone dies or they go their separate ways. The “happy ending” of a guy romance seems to always involve the guy either being single or dead.

Then there are the things everyone thinks of as romantic that really aren’t if you think much about it. Like Romeo and Juliet. That’s somehow become the epitome of romance, but I don’t think even Shakespeare meant it to be seen as super-romantic. It says right in the prologue and epilogue that it’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of a family feud, that when you have two polarized sides that are that entrenched, bad things are going to happen, and it took two kids dying to snap them out of their idiocy. The classical radio station has been playing romantic music today, and of course the Romeo and Juliet ballet music comes up. I may have shouted at the radio, “That’s not actually all that romantic.”

They’ve also played music from The Phantom of the Opera. I recall being rather irked during a recent touring production when all the ads promoted “the most romantic story ever told.” It is kind of romantic if you think of it as the love story of Christine and Raoul, childhood sweethearts reunited, and his love for her helped her escape an abusive, murderous creeper, but I don’t think that’s what they meant. But since the radio station played “All I Ask of You,” which is the romantic duet between Raoul and Christine, I’ll let it count as romantic.

For my celebration today of my most successful long-term relationship (me), I think I’m going to make something chocolate and watch Stardust, which is my favorite romantic fantasy movie. We’ve got a couple who initially dislikes each other, for good reason, then begins to like each other when they have to work together to escape from danger, and then falls in love. I need more movies like that.

Meanwhile, I’m writing while listening to the music the classical station considers romantic.

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