Right, I’m going to cut to the chase here people. A lot of nonsense is talked when it comes to the notion of romance and with the aid of Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan, people have come to set some rather outlandish, utterly unrealistic standards when it comes to showing just how “romantic” you can be. As with most things, I have an opinion and I’m not afraid to use it.
Ask most women for the key qualities that they’re looking for in a man and they will reel off a list of completely reasonable demands (tall of stature, firm of buttock, bulging of wallet) and then they throw in something utterly unreasonable; he must be romantic. I’m not saying that it is unreasonable to hope for romance in a lover, but I am saying that far too much emphasis is placed on romance being something you buy from The Grand Gestures Store, located on Terrible Movie Cliché Street and therefore, not exactly attainable. Listen up people, listen up good and hard. Romance isn’t fine dining, it isn’t little green boxes from Tiffany and it isn’t a private jet to the opera, it’s something so much more. Well, actually, it’s so much less.
Romance, like the contents of an Oompa Loompa’s pants, is the little things. It’s buying her flowers for no reason, it’s washing her dishes for her while she’s working late, it’s standing in the rain talking to her on the phone for an hour when she’s scared at home alone, it’s meeting her at the airport with a can of Diet Coke, it’s lending her your jacket even though you end up with nipples that could cut glass, it’s remembering the names of her tediously dull friends and asking about their tediously dull lives, it’s buttering her toast right to the edges, just because she’s slightly mental about symmetrically spread bread. Sure, it’s all these amazingly wonderful small gestures (trust me, any one of these will be a sure fire way to get yourself some serious brownie points, and by brownie points, I mean the sort of points that can only be redeemed in the bedroom) but actually, I think true romance is far more gritty and far less likely to be seen gracing the front of a Hallmark greeting card.
Romance, in my eyes, and the true measure of a man’s love, compassion and graciousness, can only be truly tested when a woman farts. You read that right – when she farts. Women, for those of you still in denial about the harsh facts of human biology, fart, and it’s only once that happens do we get to see the full glorious beauty that is romance.
Picture it now. She glides seductively across the room to meet him, their eyes playfully meet, they kiss, she lets one rip. He, being the romantic type, pretends he never heard. She stifles a nervous laugh, he stifles a gag reflex as the egg sandwiches she had for lunch flood his nostrils and a magical moment of romance is born. She may have other suitors who shower her with diamond encrusted race horses but if they can’t leave her with an air of mystique and dignity after she leaves them with an air of egg and pestilence, they may as well send those sparkly nags straight to the glue factory.
More than just keeping a poker face while their beloved makes musical methane, the romantic man will maintain a loving gaze while she throws up everything she ate since last November, due to having imbibed one Vino Collapso too many on a Saturday night. Not only will he tell her he still loves her and that she looks beautiful while she transforms into a vomiting version of a Picasso painting (a set of false eyelashes sliding down one cheek, her lipstick sliding up the other), he will absolutely never mention the incident to her, or anyone else, the next day. He held her hair back the night before and now he’s holding his tongue. You can keep your Michelin star restaurant dinner, the true romance is in rubbing a girl’s back while she makes pavement pizza.
Any man can go to the shops and return with a pricy trinket or a mass-produced cuddly toy for his lady-love, but only the truly romantic chap will return from the shops bearing tampons or anti-diarrhoea tablets for his sweetheart, when nature, emergency and a distraught woman dictate. Nothing says “I love you” like a hastily purchased pack of Imodium and trust me, you can’t use a designer watch in situations like that. Well, you can but they’re really not as absorbent as they seem. And it takes a real man to march into the feminine hygiene section of the chemist, unaided, unattended and unarmed. He may return red faced and ruffled of feather but he also returns a romantic hero.
Above all the overpriced presents, above the grand over-complicated plans and above the finance focused labours of love, the romantic gesture I hold most dear, the one that lets me know he’s a keeper and a deeply sensitive, loving man who will stand by my side through thick and through thin, the romantic gesture above all romantic gestures that earns my undying adoration, is his willingness to pretend that even in the smallest of flats, he can’t hear me in the bathroom and that there is nothing but the faint waft of my Chanel No. 5 hanging in the air when I exit.
So, the next time you’re compiling a list of the qualities you want in a lover and are tempted to look to the plot of a Meg Ryan movie for inspiration, don’t. I truly believe that the most romantic thing a man can do, is to pretend that it’s love in the air, not last night’s curry.