Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Lately I’ve been getting interesting responses to some of my social media posts. Recently I asked a simple question, specifically the most romantic thing anybody has done for the reader, or that the reader has done for another. My regular readers know that when it comes to romance, I’m rather over the top. When I was married, I purchased a stack of gift cards for clothiers in the mall, and a deck of cards. I removed the cards, all but the jack which I used to cover the plastic window in the box and replaced them with the gift cards so I could hide it in my wife’s purse as a random surprise when she found it. On the flip side of the coin, I was married to a woman that was upset with me because one of the cards was for a store that specialized in plus sized fashions. I heard about that for months.
But surely romance isn’t dead, is it? Most of the responses kind of indicated that I may well be the last of my type. I hope people are still buying flowers and candies for their loved ones, but it seems as if that might be the extend of romance, and even that is rare. “Romance” to many men in this day and age seems to be linked to sex, and how fortunate she is if he “gives it to her good”. Handwritten letters and all night phone calls have been largely replaced with texts. Heck, men won’t even get out of the car to knock on a date’s door, instead favoring honking the horn.
But I must say, women have not lost their sense of romance, although the bar does seem to have been dramatically lowered. I’ve had several of my female friends mention something about how romantic it is that he is always there for her, and always comes home at night. What I would call “fidelity” has somehow become romance. Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said for a man who is always there, always supportive (within human reason as we all have “off” days), and always faithful which, sadly, is less common these days than it should be. Some have even commented how everyday actions, like cooking, is a sign of romance.
One of my friends, in particular, came right out and said that romance is simply dead. Another friend insists that nobody has ever sent her flowers. And a third is upset that my wife did get regular love letters and still was upset that I didn’t realize that the store was for plus sized fashions.
Today, as I write this (about a week before it posts), I am busy with my fountain pen writing just a few love letters. None will result in anything for me personally as none of the recipients will be interested in pursuing anything with me, but just once, I want to surprise them with something romantic. Frankly, they deserve to be surprised, and all of them richly deserve to have at least a little bit of romance in their lives. None of them want this spark of romance to come from me in particular, but at least they’ll get a nice little romantic surprise.
The bad news is that the bar for romantic gestures is scraping the floor, but the good news is that with such a low bar, it’s incredibly simple to become known as one of the most romantic men in the world. I still hold doors for women, something that I have gotten into trouble for (“Do you honestly believe that I need YOU to open my door?!?”), but it’s just a gesture, a way of saying that, yes, she DOES deserve to have somebody hold the door for her. There was a time that gentlemen always walked on the inside of the sidewalk when next to a lady. This seems counter-intuitive today, and many men will show chivalry by walking on the outside of the sidewalk so if a car gets to close, it is the man who is in peril. The original orientation, actually, comes from a day before indoor plumbing. It was not uncommon for people to simply dump their chamber pots out the window, so by walking on the inside of the sidewalk, it was the gentleman who was in greater fecal peril.
But this is just another way that the gentleman would put the needs of the lady ahead of their own. Going to the door to meet her and her parents is a great act of chivalry today, and far more notable than honking. I honestly believe that it is time for women to once again begin to hold men to a higher standard. Maybe great fathers and husbands can be exempt (if they are truly great), but how can anybody assume a man will be a good husband or father if they won’t even get out of the damned car???