February 13, 2014

Him, Her, & That Wild Thing Between Them

Love Sick graffiti by Banksy
Love Sick graffiti by Banksy

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.

Love Is In the Air, graffiti by Banksy
Love Is In the Air, graffiti by Banksy

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.

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  • Post authorchristineblackthorn

    Sadly, you almost lost me after the horsey. I want to know what emotional scars you left on him. 😉

    I am also not sure I agree wholeheartedly with you. I love being in love – but I do not miss those first moments, those first few months. I prefer the deep familiarity of today (13 years on) to those crazy high-flying emotions of that time. I love that I know how to touch him, and he me, without fault, that I know what the smallest twitch in his muscles, the faintest tone in his voice means. I love that I know he is part of everything – I don’t want that craziness of the beginning back if it would mean to lose that intimacy.

    Reply to christineblackthorn
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      First of all, horsey was perfectly good afterwards. He no longer wanted to be MY friend, of course, but he was perfectly polite to me after a few make up carrots.

      Secondly, I agree with you– the comfort of true love NOW after so many years is much preferable to all the discomfort of those first months. I was rather obsessive. It’s just if the choice is between not being in love at all vs. being uncomfortable and tortured, I vote for tortured.

      Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    Hmmm, spanked with a goat skin? Clearly doesn’t do much for fertility, but it’s certainly . . . interesting.

    And you’re certainly right, we do love love. It’s no secret that there are endless books, songs, poems, paintings, dances all centered around that one crazy, wild, unpreditible, make-you-insane, fascinating, wonderful emotion. It’s a trip!

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      Well, from what I read, it’s like those proper Roman citizens just went bat sh** crazy at that time of year. Sort of like a Roman version of mardi-gras.

      Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorBarbara Mikula

    I only had that intense magnetic feeling that pulled us both across a room once. Glad I had it, wouldn’t want to have missed it, not sure I want to do it again. The romance lasted a few months but didn’t end well. Ahhh, young and foolish. Now I try to put that feeling into my books to enjoy again the safe way. I’ve had lots of other great experiences, but that particular thing was a one of a kind! I found that person on Facebook – LOL – found out he is (or was) suffering from bipolar or some such thing. Explains a lot! Life is an adventure or should be! – Skye Michaels

    Reply to Barbara Mikula
  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    Wow! Skye, that’s intense! What a cool intense feeling to experience. I’m not surprised the person was bi-polar. There is that knife-edge of crazy when attraction is involved. I’m the same way as you. I want to experience that feeling–but in a safe way. Through books, by writing them. But the stories that you hear about real life are so intense. They blow me away. It’s like you don’t really know what someone is capable of until you’ve seen them in the obsessive grip of undeniable attraction/love.

    Reply to Madeline Iva

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