MJD: So, for Valentine's Day, I'm apparently going the the ballet.Yes, it's true: the ballet is in my future.
Tina: Does she know you hate ballet?
M: I don't hate ballet. I hated Dracula. I don't mind the classical stuff, and can even get excited about it. I don't necessarly get it, but there's good music and nifty things going on. I just can't wrap my head around the more modern styles at all. They make me feel stupid because I don't get them "conceptually," whatever that means.
T: Why don't you do something you'll both like?
M: Because that's not what Valentine's Day is about. It's about guys doing things they don't want to do just because women think it's romantic. I have a feeling that the most romantic things in life are things that no man enjoys.
T: *suddenly can't stop laughing*
I admit, I don't mind. I won't lie and pretend to be excited about it (though I might actually get excited about an excuse to put on a suit and have a pretty lady on my arm), but I'll sit through it and find a way to make it work for me.
Honestly, if it hadn't been presented to me before I caught wind of the show, I'd have probably offered to take her, anyway: I've been scanning the ballet schedule off and on for a couple of months trying to find something I might be able to work with. This is probably because my idea of romance is "stuff I don't like to do." Thus, when I find something I don't want to do, my first thought is often, "Hey, that'd be a great date!"
This could be why buying flowers doesn't seem "romantic" to me. . . I like to buy flowers for people. It's fun, and often unexpected. But it's not romantic in my head. But going to the ballet is. I understand, though, that there are certain actions that women find "romantic", and I try and do those actions from time to time.
Finding romance in stuff I like to do is hard. I mean, I like to geek out over Star Wars from time to time, or hike, or pray, or write rituals, or watch movies and TV shows on DVD, or play video games. . . the list goes on and on. But nothing there is considered "romantic" by most standards: heck, most of it's individual. Sure a hike can be romantic, but I like to *hike* when I hike: it's not "romance" when you find more joy in the open trail you're on than the person hiking with you. Watching a movie is good, but I like to *watch* them, not make out during them (though, ya know, if you're gonna make me, I won't complain too loudly. . . but I'll watch the movie again sometime without you).
This, of course, is different from "spending time with a person," which I also don't consider "romantic" because I like to do it. If I go hiking to spend time with a person, then I'll enjoy their company, but I won't consider it a "hike". If I go to a movie with the express purpose of making out, then I'll go and make out and enjoy spending time with the person and ignore the movie (come to think of it, I should really go to a movie to make out sometime: I missed that phase of adolescence). These are good, fun things to do, but they're not romantic, they're just fun.
Romance, generally, is a game to me. That's how I have to see it to make it work. I look at it and say, "Hey, I'll bet this'll work well!" and I do that. I enjoy the end result (that mushy, melty pile of woman that I end up with if I manage to play my cards right), but getting there is somewhat calculated and cold. To be romantic, you have to follow the rules and make the right moves. The hardest part, of course, is that the rules are different for every girl you encounter: every one is unique, challenging, and oh-so-certainly worth the effort.
When I characterize romance as a game, it allows me to remove a lot of the coldness I feel toward the actions involved. A game of romance demands a level of seriousness that trying to be seriously romantic just couldn't ever manage to instill in me. But then, that is the role of play in our lives: to help us take things seriously that we could never take seriously under any other circumstance.
In turn-about, because that's always fair play, I don't think I've ever felt that something was romantic when done in my direction. "Fun", "thoughtful", "sexy", or "nice", sure, but not "romantic." I have sketchy ideas of what might be romantic, but they're undefined in my brain. I find myself appreciative toward relationship items (someone buying me dinner, or going for a walk, or writing me a love letter), but to actually feel "romantic" about it is hard for me. This could, centrally, be why I have trouble with romance in general. I do expect that it's me who's broken, honestly, not the romantic drive. Romance isn't dead, it just doesn't live in me, that's all.
Now, flirting. . . that's a whole other story for some other time. . .