People love to declare that romance is dead. I don’t think it is. I think it’s alive. It’s just changed. Instead of taking someone to the sock hop and giving them your pin, you declare that you’re “in a relationship” on Facebook and surprise them with a Starbucks latte. Maybe I have low standards for romance though. If you don’t believe that romance still exists then google “wedding blogs” and come face to face with smiling young couples wearing fake mustaches in their wedding photos and take your cynicism elsewhere.
HOWEVER. I do think that romance is NOT way two way street. I think that in our society (again, I blame the Internet, no reason) only the man can be romantic. Let me explain. If a man surprises a girl outside of her window with a boombox blasting, everyone cries and falls in love. If I showed up at my boyfriend’s place doing that, he would feel awkward and ask me what I was doing and why I was playing Phil Collins at 3 in the morning and I would scream, “IT’S PETER GABRIEL!” and he would tell me to go home. OK actually my boyfriend wouldn’t do this because he knows the difference between Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel and I think he would be impressed by my upper arm strength. But my point, and I don’t think it’s a groundbreaking point, is that when women try to be romantic it’s seen as desperate, strange, and sometimes even creepy. Imagine every romantic comedy. Now flip the genders of the two leads. At some point wouldn’t the audience think of the lead women, “Oh my God girl, let him go. People think you’re a stalker. He’s just not that into you.”
When women describe qualities in men that they’d like, there’s a good chance that “romantic” will be one of them. But I don’t think men really care if their prospective girlfriends are romantic. They might use words like “smart” “pretty” and “good sense of humor” but they will likely not say “romantic.” (Prove me wrong, dudes, prove me wrong.) I don’t know if it’s because romance isn’t important to them or if they define romance in ways differently than women do. Women (not ALL women, I know) want their boyfriend to suddenly declare their love for them, preferably with a guitar, like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer when he surprised Drew Barrymore on the airplane with his love for her in song. But when I’m overcome with emotion and decide to be spontaneous and shout my love for my boyfriend, I’m asked to leave Trader Joe’s.
“That was so sweet!” we say to Adam Sandler. “That was so shrill!” we’d say if it was Drew Barrymore. For women, where is the line between being romantic and coming off as desperate?
Elisa — Serge Gainsbourg — I think this is one of the most romantic songs. But when I tried to translate it on the internet, I got something about “lice” and “your nails in the jungle of my hair.” Any French speakers want to help me out?