Tonight I watched Zac & Miri followed directly by the last half hour of Shakespeare In Love. I'd wager that if you asked "most" people which movie was more romantic, they'd choose the latter. Obviously, Shakespeare knew what he was doing when it came to writing love stories but I'd like to throw it out there that he is followed in close second by Kevin Smith. Hear me out.
In Shakespeare In Love, Will and Viola are forbidden from seeing each other due to their place in society, the taboo of his profession, and her engagement to another man. None of their circumstances prevent them from developing feelings for one another though and despite all the obstacles in their way, the passion never subsides. Their relationship is short-lived as she is sent off to the New World with her new husband, a man whom she can barely tolerate (although I'd argue that any girl reading this now would swoon over Colin Firth himself!) Perhaps their story seems so incredibly romantic because they are so swiftly parted without Viola every knowing that Shakespeare spends most of his time divided evenly between the playhouse and the pub. She never has time to see his faults or let his annoying habits (like biting those ink-covered nails) get on her last nerve. Their love remains pure, her face un-aged, sweet memories preserved in a bubble forever, ne'er to be tainted by time or treason.
I wonder if she would have minded being married to a drunk pauper for the rest of her life, scrubbing the sweat from other women off of their marital bed as he scraped by for rent money while posing as a poet.
Then we have Zac and Miri, two friends who have been by each other's sides through thick and thin (he's thick and she's thin.) They have survived living together for many years, much of that time spent working minimum wage jobs, scrounging up whatever spare change they can find in the hopes of not getting their power turned off the night before Thanksgiving. They know every last embarrassing detail about one another, from her granny panties to his lack of ambition. It takes being apart for them to realize just how much they really do love each other and how much they hated being apart. I argue that finding someone you can stand even when the water isn't running and there's no heat in the apartment is a far better fate than a fleeting affair that ends with an urgent kiss and a sweeping exit.
You see, real love isn't like the movies and if it is, it's closer to Zac & Miri's version than to Shakespeare's. (Yes, I know that he wrote plays but I'm referring to the entertainment media in general.) While real romance exists, it happens on such rare occasions for most people that a floor picnic with takeout Chinese food passes where once only sonnets under a balcony would suffice. No one makes grand gestures anymore. We're lucky to be graced with thoughtful consideration.
Last night, my mother and I came home from a long day in the city to find that my father had put a fresh pot of coffee on and set up her mug so it was ready when she walked in the door. That's considerate. My dear friend just gave birth to triplets (God bless her) and her husband stayed by her side through the entire process, tending to her and all of their brand new babies' every need. That's considerate. My sister's husband leaves a note for her every morning saying that he already fed the dogs or washed the dishes or cleaned the snow off her car so she could sleep in a little longer. That's considerate.
My new friend today told me that her date Friday night took four phone calls from another woman during their dinner together. That's NOT considerate. My ex used to throw his dirty clothes in the vicinity of the hamper, never quite making it actually into the actual laundry basket itself. Again, NOT considerate. Then there is the story of the boy who greeted his wife when she walked in from a fourteen hour day at work by asking what she was making him for dinner. Sooooo NOT considerate.
You see, men, I don't think that you realize what woman really want from you is not necessarily romance but simple consideration. Do we love getting flowers? Of course we do. Do we appreciate when you make an effort to seduce us instead of assuming sex will happen whether or not you've showered today? Yes, we're definitely more in the mood when you don't smell particularly offensive. Do we enjoy little gifts or surprises for no reason? Absolutely. I'm not telling you to stop those things. What I'm saying is that if you ask a woman what her idea of romance is, she will likely not say making love under a waterfall. She will say that you putting the toilet seat down so she doesn't fall in during her 2 am bathroom run was romantic (aka considerate). That you making her a cup of tea, listening to her when she talks, or sending a text message that simply says 'I'm thinking about you' is the most romantic thing you could do.
In my latest poll, I asked you all to vote on the most desirable quality in a partner. Not one person said attractiveness. Sexy got a couple of votes, outnumbered by smart and funny. But considerate was the most popular answer by far. We love it when you plan a night out at a fancy restaurant with wine and chocolates, dinner and dancing. We love when you get dressed up in your good suit and take us to a Broadway show. We sincerely appreciate the rose petals on the bed and Frank Sinatra on the iPod. But the thing we want the most is just for you to notice us, make us feel special and important, treat us nicely, and let us know you care.
Dear Mr Shakespeare, I have always been a fan of your works but I believe that you may be the root of much disappointment in this world. Young girls who read your plays have a skewed vision of romance. They believe that it is all sonnets and prose and iambic pentameter. They think that men's tongues should be flowery and overflowing with poetry. These girls do not understand the way you painted life in Elizabethan England has no place in modern New York. Therefore, dear bard, I believe that were you alive to write now, your scripts would take place during the commercials of the Jets game where a man takes out the garbage without being asked for that is the most romantic...nay, considerate thing a person could do.
Copyright Kimberly Spice 2010