I will never forget the breathless nights we spent together. You with that chest, those eyes, that chin, that hair. Me imagining us galloping off toward some castle in the air where you would do all those things implied in the covers of thousands of romance novels.
I can almost laugh about it now. Maybe, after my tears have dried, I’ll look back on our brief wild fling and be thankful to have known you at all.
But not yet. Though the passion that once burned so brightly still smolders, I can no longer pretend I don’t know that it’s over.
When, a few years ago, in a desperate and calculated move to improve the odds of getting published by a traditional publishing house I joined the Romance Writers of America, I was, as usual, naive about romance. I thought you would understand. To me, romance meant Jane Austen novels, in which no one ever embraces, much less gropes, on the page, and every discourse is civil and literate; yet, in spite of, or perhaps because of this, the reader is keenly aware of the passions cloaked by good manners.
But as I came to know you, and learned of the millions of romantic conquests you have made, I realized it would be a challenge to hold your interest with good conversation and manners. How quickly I learned the folly of my illusions.
I could blame my foolishness on the countless fairy tales I read when I was a young girl, stories from which I absorbed the idea that to make great sacrifices for love was thrilling. However, as I grew older, I learned that in real life happy endings are temporary at best.
Sentimental fool that I am, though, I still believe in true love and still fight tears during weepy reconciliation scenes any astute observer of current culture could have predicted from reading the liner notes. But I am growing weary of the lust for…well…lust.
Do I protest too much? Perhaps. I only know that I can no longer pretend I’m one of them – the romance writers. I tried to read their books. I tried to engage with heroines whom, quite honestly, I found either unsympathetic or unbelievable or both, who were pursued by or pursuing male characters who struck me as either arrogant jerks or charmless oafs.
I guess I should have known this would be the case. Sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover, and I should have realized that if the majority of romance readers yearn for a man like you, I’d be a fool to stand in their way.
I’ll always be a romantic, wishing the world were a bit kinder and gentler. But I’m through trying to pass myself off as one of the thousands of women who churn out “blazing hot reads” for the rapacious editors and agents who are convinced that, in order to succeed in these challenging times of decreasing literacy, they must entice readers with soft porn. Their heroines do it in the elevator. On the road. On horseback, at the castle, on the misty moor. But you and I, Fabio, will never do. I can see that now.
I want you to know that I will always remember what we never exactly had, and wonder what on earth I was thinking.
Don’t take it personally, my love. It’s not you. It’s me.