Friday, February 13, 2009
Love Is More than a Bottle of “Catnip Nights” and a Diamond and Ruby Cat Collar
“Mommy, what’s ‘romance’?” my cat Angela asked me this afternoon. She had seen some Valentine’s Day commercials on TV and was all in a twitter lest she miss out on something.
“It has nothing to do with cats,” I replied. “It’s an idea humans have devised to make money in February because the weather is cold and people don't shop as much especially in a recession.
"What else, Mommy?" Angela persisted. So I pulled up a chair and gave her my take on the subject. “You see, Angela,” I continued, “somewhere along the line, human females were led to believe that the amount of happiness and fulfillment in their relationships was directly related to the amount of goo-goo eyed, hearts-and-flowers, Bridges of Madison County type romance they experienced.
“And if we accept everything we see and read,” I said, “this ‘romance quotient’ is measured in certain quantifiable, demonstrative displays—such as how many times the male wines and dines the female (with candles and minimum $21.99 bottle of Merlot; in your case it would be fresh shrimp and warm milk); and how much and how often he compliments the female, and professes his undying love.
"Romance is also supposedly measured by the amount of gifts the human male showers upon the woman, high among which are bon-bons from Godiva (a Whitman Sampler in a pinch); expensive fragrances with names like “Longing” and “Take Me,” lots of jewelry; long stemmed yellow (red is out) roses, expensive Iphones, and at least one impulse get-away trip to a Caribbean island, or because money is tight, a weekend in the Amish Country or a day at the Bronx Zoo.
"If any of this is missing, Angela, the human females are led to believe this thing called romance is finis, because the human male is either taking the woman for granted, bored to tears, or just plain doesn’t love her anymore. Even worse, since romance is reportedly the glue which keeps relationships from falling apart, then it is only a matter of time before said human male will take off in search of this romance in the arms of another human female in a late-night Starbucks where they’ll plan to spend the rest of their lives (when they’re not on-line or at the gym) kissing and calling each other “sweet-ums” and “honey lamb.”
Mommy thinks this is poppycock. She thinks it's what is responsible for unhappiness and divorce, too. She doesn't believe that romance is the same thing as love, that there is no love if you don’t have romance, and that the romance a woman does have should be equal to or more than her neighbor’s, and as electric as the day she and her partner first decided to become an item.
Then, too, though romance is nifty,Mommy doesn't believe it’s the be all and end all of a relationship. And if, as the song bemoans, the human male doesn’t “bring flowers” anymore. So what? He pays the mortgage or maybe does nice things like rakes the leaves, empties the dishwasher, takes the kids to the mall so the woman can have some time for herself, or plays “Mousie” with you guys—actions which—while they may not categorically be considered romantic—are just as meaningful a sign of love than any diamond and ruby circle pin.
Angela, if I had a human daughter, I’d teach her to separate love and romance as soon as she stopped crawling. Love, I’d tell her, is a permanent, real-life, reality-based bond that allows partners to cherish each other—warts and all—while they experience good times and certain life challenges, such as recessions, house alterations, cats, kids, job losses, death, differences of opinion, diets, hormone changes, hair transplants, aging, and the like.
Romance, on the other hand, I’d say, though it is thoroughly enchanting, is merely a lot of fluff and stuff.
"Okay, Mommy," said Anglea. "But can I still have the fresh shrimp and warm milk?"