Have you ever noticed how romance novels and movies always find their way to the bestsellers list? (Especially on Valentine’s Day, but we’ll discuss the commercial holiday of Hershey’s kisses some other time.)
The thing is, romantic notions in books are not idealistic in real life. Far from it.
In 9th grade, I had a stubborn classmate who was resolute in his opinion that I loved him because he, a 14-year-old boy going through puberty at the time, liked me as more than a friend loved me so of course we were meant to be.
In a romance novel, this plot would induce ahhs and affectionate gasps from readers who are expecting some sort of The Taming of the Shrew story line. Sorry folks, no such thing. I was actually pretty annoyed that he was so obstinate. I mean, it’s one thing to form a crush on a girl (adolescents, what can you expect?) but to declare that she definitely liked him back? Excuse me, does the girl have no say?
Jane Austen would sympathize.
Here are some examples from popular books, movies, and songs for which ladies go ga-ga and guys try to replicate.
- The Notebook. Noah stalks Allie at the fair. After she turns him down the first few times, he chases her atop a merry-go-round and threatens to jump unless she goes out with him. The audience forgives him because Ryan Gosling is a stud muffin and is the equivalent of Prince Charming, but seriously?
- Beauty and the Beast. Now, I’m a huge fan of this Disney classic. It teaches people to look past the exterior. Still, a monstrous beast kidnaps the girl and forces her to live with him. But again, since we all know he’s a handsome Prince Charming underneath, all is well.
- Twilight. Sorry, Stephenie Meyer fans, but if my boyfriend secretly climbed into my room each night to watch me fall asleep, the first thing I’m thinking of is installing a new alarm system.
- “Say You Like Me” by We the Kings. About a guy who admires a girl who doesn’t say hi back because she’s “too shy to say hello.” (How do you know that? What if she’s just trying to give you a hint, Mr. Smooth?) Then the lyrics go, “I’m never giving up, I’m never gonna leave, so put your hands up. If you like me, then say you like me. Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh (repeat x3).” Enough said.
- 27 Dresses. Another chick flick where the handsome guy stalks a girl, only this time there’s a good excuse: he’s a reporter! And she’s single! How convenient
Still, the romantic aspect appeals greatly to some people. One only needs to glance at the plethora of romantic Fanfiction online to tell our society’s current interests. Granted, half of them are written by bored preteens with no homework on the weekends, but I still want to sue for copyright infringement when I hear of Fanfic stories regarding Harry Potter and Hermione “moving past third base.” But if J.K. Rowling’s not upset, why should I be?
Anyway, back to that guy I mentioned earlier. In middle school, apparently he wrote a fictional story online based on me. He didn’t use my real name or anything (good for him; otherwise he’d run into some libel suits right about now) but it was still… uncomfortable, to say the least. A small excerpt:
He enveloping her in a passionate kiss. He tugged on her gently toward the tent, and she went along with him. The fire burned, ignored by the two lovers.
It’s all fun and games until you find yourself the lead in someone’s fictional romance story. One, you’re scared to wonder what else went through their heads. And two, well… it’s just awkward. On the bright side, my character in the story was a super assassin. So I suppose that balances out the other stuff.