The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sweet-Tarts and Secret Sauce

by Tamara Lee

When we were kids, there were a few things you could count on, on Valentine’s Day: a valentine from your teacher and a box of cheap chocolates in a heart-shaped cardboard box from your mother. The rest was just sugary coating.

Jimmy (or Jenny) Parker was not going to ask you to be his (or hers), and Tiffany Marcus, who collected her valentines like Jimmy collected hockey cards, would make a fan of her loot and waft all that love back and forth in front your face. And Buddy Comox, even that lug got as many valentines as you. It was a miserable day. Especially if you were pathetic at art, and the tissue finger-flowers lining your asymmetrical paper heart looked more like a science project gone awry. You were almost relieved when Buddy snatched it off your desk and turned it into a paper airplane.

Leapfrog a dozen years and it doesn’t get better. Life does, sure, but that day will forever be full of high expectations and low morale. You decide you hate that that kind of thing anyway.

Until you realise that it’s not romance you hate, it’s the day they tell you to love romance that turns you curmudgeonly.

Eventually, after taking your lumps in life and love, it occurs to you that romance is about minutiae, nestled between the well-placed pairing of words in a sonnet.

It feeds off the shared excitement over a great line in a song, and the mutual appreciation of a piece of art. It peppers an in-joke with that secret sauce. It’s in those moments that risk ruin if you try to explain it, or try to analyze its significance.

Romance is not necessarily about grand gestures and expensive dinners. It’s about waking up next to your bed partner, holding hands. And never mentioning how much it thrills you—that would only undo its beauty.

Negotiating to get a reservation for that trendy restaurant, fantasising about getting that $800 child-mined diamond necklace, or chattering to your friends about what you and your boyfriend did for V-Day all fly in the face of what romance really is: a private, inexplicable ‘it’ between two people.

Tiffany will probably marry Jimmy, and spend the rest of her life with him trying to recapture that old love. Buddy Comox will find love in the personals and surprise even himself.

And you, dear reader, you will write stories or poems about unrequited love, whirlwind romances, failed marriages, golden wedding anniversaries, and any number of variations of the theme. Because if there’s one thing your valentine-limited childhood gave you, it’s a certain perspective. No one sees romance like a closet romantic.

The closet romantic discovers romance is about two lovers sharing a singular moment amidst the madness to prove something. Two lovers quiet and still, because they have nothing to prove.

In this commodified world we live, that kind of true currency is rare, and its value continues to go underappreciated.

So whether it happens on the 14th, this year, or this decade: may you all get your fair share of that good ‘it’, the most valuable of currency.

Peace and love, babies.


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I just love this, Tamara. A beautiful piece of writing. That's all I can say.

Tue Feb 13, 02:22:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger MelBell said...

Great post, Tamara, and a very fine piece of writing. I love it.

Tue Feb 13, 11:12:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember those valentines that came in boxes of 30. I loved Paul in 3rd grade and swooned over his valentine. Students had to give each classmate one. No, heavy sigh, Paul's wasn't personalized.

Diane, from the Maple Room

Tue Feb 13, 11:13:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

If only everyone shared this view...

Romance is day to day and shouldn't be expensive gifts. Great post.

Tue Feb 13, 01:50:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Just what I needed today, Tamara. Lovely work.

Tue Feb 13, 05:20:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger tamara said...

Aren't you all lovely and swell. Thanks, gang :)

Tue Feb 13, 06:37:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

This is so great Tamara, wonderful work, wow!! smiling away...xox wishing the best to you as well..xoxo

Tue Feb 13, 11:16:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Well said, Tamara. Peace and love, indeed.

Fri Feb 16, 09:53:00 am GMT-5  

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