by Madeline Iva
Hey Ladies, Gents! Happy Snow Day if you live on the East Coast.
At this snowy fluffy Valentine-y time of the year I’d like to stop and consider one aspect of what a famous romance author calls ‘the holy trinity’ of romance.
You’ve got your hero, your heroine, and then you’ve got that mysterious thing going on between them.
What is it? Unseen but strong. Felt by parties–and even by the people around them at times. You know what I’m talking about, right?
One time when I was a youngun, I was hanging around this horse barn and hopped up on the wooden fence of a paddock to say hello to a nice horsey with a big blaze down his nose. He came right over and stretched out his nose for a kiss. Little did I know I’d been touching the electrical fence the whole time. The current flowing through me suddenly leaped out to Mr. Horsey through my teeth when he was about two inches away. My teeth bit together with a hard clack, the electricity shocked him hard, making him shy away violently. This invisible force–it’s like that. Not always pleasant, but certainly strong and very memorable.
I’m not talking about love exactly, nor just lust. It’s the wild chemistry along with the ability to be friends–but it hurts a little too. It’s the whole snarly whatever-it-is thing, including acceptance, antagonism, tenderness, and fortitude.
It’s hard to name, but this force–this ghostly spirit–is what we romance writers try to capture when we sit down to write a book that will grip you by the back of the neck and shake you–because you like it that way.
It can be a little ugly and rough around the edges . It can be pure, and based on the hope of more later–even much much later.
Your heroine can be plain Jane, the hero tortured by fate or whatever (not my favorite kind to read about)–but something about that thing between them sucks you right in and won’t let you go. It’s like the gravitational pull of a planet and leaves you spinning. Romance wouldn’t be romance without it.
So here’s to this mysterious wild force that draw two people together–whether they were always ‘meant to be’ or are a case of opposites attracting.
Here’s to the energy flow between them that can clack their teeth together and leave them feeling kinda sick but also different for forever. This is the kindle and spark of passion that is built into the atomic structure of romance–whether in movies, books, or what have you. It’s what binds you to your true love, and what binds you to the romance genre.
It can make you feel dizzy and without appetite, listless, sleepless, and exhausted. The french say amor fou–crazy love–perhaps a slightly meaner version of what we call love sick. Koreans go eat a bowl of black noodles over it to celebrate and despair of it at the same time.
I would say that it’s better to be in love than not–even if it’s making you feel miserable. You’re experiencing the best kind of ‘real’ magic that exists in the world. It’s a fascinating phenomenon–enjoy.
Meanwhile, here’s a very naughty article that proposes Valentine’s Day was once a Pagan Spanking Fertility Ritual.
Here’s a tamer article on the origins of the holiday from NPR.
Seemed the day was all about unleashing the repressions that built up (a day of amor fou?). It was too popular to give up when the Christians came along, so they took it in another direction (less amor fou, more love sick).
Happy St. Valentine’s Day.