on the inadvisibility of fairy tale romances

I watched about five minutes of The Bachelor tonight, until I couldn’t take it anymore. (Lest you think I regularly watch dating-type reality shows, I was half-watching The Little Couple, which is followed by The Bachelor.) In those five minutes, women talked about the amazing dates they had been on with the current bachelor, dates that ranged from a private concert with fireworks to follow, to a walk on a private beach at sunset, to time spent on a yacht. One woman said it was so romantic, she felt like a fairy-tale princess.

no castles for me. A regular house will be just fine.

Perhaps it’s that I’ve never wanted to be a princess. I was too much of a tomboy growing up to ever grow my hair long enough to be Rapunzel. And you can bet I wouldn’t get locked up in a tower like Cinderella (although talking mice would be cool). I’ve grown into my femininity, learned to love dressing up and feeling pretty and applying makeup. But I enjoy those days spent in jeans and a sweater with only a touch of mascara too much to want to wear dresses and heels all the time. For Pete’s sake, I can’t even get myself to wear contacts part of the time, relying on my glasses even though supposedly ‘guys don’t make passes at girls that wear glasses’. What I mean is that I’m much too practical to want to take part in a fairy tale. (Or it could all just be a defense mechanism. I bet my therapist would have something to say about this. Which is precisely why I won’t ask her.)

Anyway, this aversion to fairy tale transplants into real life is why those dates didn’t seem all that romantic to me. Romance, for me, is not all violins and roses. It’s my boyfriend keeping pace with me run after run, encouraging me to keep going and walking with me when I can’t, even when he can easily outrun me twice over. It’s standing in the kitchen together, making pumpkin lattes and tasting in tandem whether it needs a touch more of various spices before it’s perfect. It’s planning a day trip somewhere and hearing him say how much he’s looking forward to spending the day with me wandering through an unfamiliar city. It’s him watching the Wizard of Oz with me and my sister even though he hates musicals. Romance lies in the small things, not in the big gestures. The candles, the wine, the sunset or helicopter ride or fine jewelry, that’s all just outer trappings. Fine (and fun) for a night, but it’s not love. Not to me at least. And I’m glad I’ve found a guy that feels the same way.

Even if it does mean I’ll have to live my life without having a star named after me. I bet you can imagine my disappointment.

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