The missive started out harmless enough.
‘Dear Lisa, based on your past purchases we are offering you a selection of this months new releases in your favourite genre’. Well OK. I wasn’t aware that I had a favourite Mr. Genre, as my son says. However I’m mildly curious to see how you have played this, I reply. Speaking conversationally to the screen.
I scroll down.
I read the first four suggestions with a growing uneasiness. Like last night’s risotto just decided not to digest.
Crystal Cove – One woman who has been cursed never to find love and one man without a soul who wants her more than life itself. They meet in a small town in the Pacific Northwest where magic is in the air and fate is a force to powerful to defy….
Beauty Awakened – Combining passion, humour and pulse-pounding action and just plain fun. A tormented warrior is brought to his knees by the most delicate of humans….
Lord of Darkness – He lives in the shadows. As the mysterious masked avenger known as the Ghost of St Giles and his only goal is to protect the innocent of London. Until the night he confronts a fearless young lady pointing a pistol at his head…..
Never Too Far – He had held a secret that destroyed her world. Everything she had known was no longer true. What do you do when the one person you can never trust again is the one you need to trust so desperately?
Hold me back!
I’m about to make a ‘never-in-my-life’ proclamation. To a donotreply address. When you have something important to say, make sure you tell it to the thin air. With passion.
I believe Mr. and Mrs. Bookseller have recommended romance novels. How the hell can this have happened? My last purchase was Season 1-4 of the Walking Dead. And before that, Origami for Ghouls. I can feel my arteries hardening. With feminist rage and too many gin and tonics. With midnight blogging and abandoned love letters. No. This is not possible. Never in my life have I purchased a romance novel. Never. Ever. Never.
So I address Romance directly. I have spoken to Romance before. At length once or twice. It wasn’t a conversation. It was a narrative. A monologue really. Romance did all the talking. It went something like… You don’t believe in me do you? You know what they say about little girls who don’t believe? They grow into women who don’t believe. And women who don’t believe don’t get to go to the ball. Or find the shoe that fits. Or have a nuclear family. Or put those stickers on the back of their car that say ‘Mums taxi’ and ‘The Goddess is alive’. They don’t get to dream the dreams of Venice in a gondola or champagne in the honeymoon suite. No, no, no. You will end your days alone, blogging at midnight with only a cat for company.
Umm Romance. Haven’t you heard of the creative commons? Are you going to let a few more people contribute to the development of this story? Who made you Boss of the world? Where do you think the energy to keep you alive comes from? From little girls. From little boys. From old women. From old men. From queer folk. From gay folk. From round folk. From straight folk. From unicorns. From the hearts of people. You are not all there is to say on the matter. So you take your seductive nevers and your soothing, pre med administering voice and you can have your turn in the room of mirrors. I hope they have fluorescent lighting.
I feel like I’ve squared that one away. I’m not Genre confused.
And I’m walking. Purposefully. Businesslike as can be. On my way to a meeting. To do important grown up professional woman type talking. Well, it’s a week day. Work is happening. That’s what people are doing. Right?
It’s early morning city. People are out. Spilling into the life of the day. Some with briefcases. But many carrying business of a different kind. Today. The day of Valentines. I adjust my eyes to the new colour of the day, I smell it. It is a vintage fragrance. Timeless. Poetic. Heart bendingly beautiful. Roses in boxes on trolleys, in bunches in buckets, in arms of suitors, on lapels of lovers. Love walks in every shape and every genre on this day. Today it is everything Romance promised it would be. And more. So much more.
Later, I take a reflective journey home on the train. Wondering just which cross I need to get off. Or on. There is a grisly looking biker sitting across from me. All facial hair and leathers. And roses. I’m staring at those roses, breathing them in. Long, long stems, slightly unfurled buds, deepest red. Cradled gently.
He catches me staring and smiles. ‘For my Mum’ he says.
Happy Valentines Day.