Easy guide to romance

Romance is a nebulous thing with the curious property of being describable but not definable. We won’t muck with your head and try to suggest there’s an ultimate definitive definition out there. Some people will try to do just that and come up with some tidy little definition, like, “Romance is showing you care.” Sure, it sounds good at first, but although draping your coat over a puddle and asking if she remembered to brush her teeth that morning may be actions triggered by this same motivation, they rate distinctly differently on the romance scale.

Although it’s not so much a definition, as it is no more precise than the word “romance” itself, one way to describe romance succinctly is “what women want out of a relationship.” In other words, men aren’t romantic, and if you’re a man, that’s why you need this guide. If you’re a woman, of course, you were born with an innate knowledge of this stuff and need not read further.

But though romance may not be definable, there are still some hard fast rules. Below, we have documented many of the atomic elements of romance. Mix these ingredients up, and you’ve got it.

  • Intrinsic Romance

    Some things are inherently romantic, like hearts. This is very useful, because you can pile things upon the object of your affections and win romance points without expending any additional effort or thought. The trick is to figure out what is romantic and what is not. There is a basic rule of thumb to follow: if it’s cool, it’s not romantic. For example, high powered rifles are not romantic. Science fiction is not romantic. DVD players are not romantic unless they’re playing Sleepless In Seattle.

    But a whole ton of things are intrinsically romantic, and you should use them to your advantage.

    • Cute Things

      Teddy bears are romantic. Puppies are romantic. Cherubic baby archers are romantic. Those photographs where two little kids exhibit an unnatural affection for each other and only the roses are in color are romantic.

      Taking advantage of the intrinsic romance in cute things obviously depends upon recognizing which things are cute. The rule is simple. Small things are cute. If you see a food product in a grocery store that comes in a smaller package than usual, get it, because there’s a very good chance it’s cute. The same goes for travel size shampoo, toothpaste, and so on. Find a store that sells doll house stuff, and your supply of cute things can be limitless.

    • Low Light

      Candles are romantic. Sunrises and sunsets are romantic. Any kind of low light, you see, is romantic, hence why dinner dates after dark are more romantic than lunch dates at noon. Combine low light sources, and it stands to reason that the air of romance will be so thick, your beloved will be blind to anything else but the radiance of her shimmering knight in armor. Open the curtains on a sunset and light some candles, and you might even be able to get away with watching a football game during dinner.

    • Red

      Red is romantic, because red is the color of love and passion. Consider roses. Red roses mean, “I love you.” Yellow roses mean, “Let’s just be friends,” which is synonymous with, “You are irritating, and I hate you.” So you do not want to be wrong. Get her red roses, red ribbons, red balloons, red teddy bears, red puppies, and red tickets to the World Series, and she’ll fall hopelessly under your spell.

    • Background Music

      Background music is romantic, and note the word “background,” because not just any music is romantic. For music to be romantic, it must be too soft to hear. Also, it may not be lively or funny or good. Elevator music is the most romantic genre of music out there.

    • Chocolates

      Chocolates are not only romantic, they’re complimentary. When you give a box of chocolates to your beloved, it says, “You could pig out on this tub of lard and bloat out to three tons, but you’d still be the apple of my eye.” It doesn’t matter if it’s true — it’s the message that counts. But the real reason to give your loved one chocolates is because any loved one worth her salt will turn right around and offer you some. It’s a win-win no matter how you look at it. Buy her a red one shaped like a heart, and you’re in like Flynn.

    • Fancy Curly Things

      Flair and flourishes are romantic. Whenever you get her a greeting card, get one of the ones with all the curly pink scribbles on it. When you write her letters, make the tails of the ‘g’s and ‘y’s really long and the loops in the ‘d’s and ‘b’s and ‘p’s really big. That’s way romantic. Notice how romantic the title banner at the top of this page is? The ‘R’ is particularly romantic, because it’s red.

    • The Most Intrinsically Romantic Thing Ever

      Based on the data above, the single most romantic thing in the universe can be calculated scientifically. It is, simply, a small red candle made out of chocolate and shaped like a teddy bear holding a heart with scribbles all over it that plays a tune when you wind it up. Toss her one of these at sunset on your way to a frat party, and you’ll be able to stay out all night and still strengthen your relationship.

  • Impracticality

    Practical things are not romantic. Why do you think blenders and toaster ovens are so notoriously unromantic? Because they have an alternative use, of course. But get her a poofy thing that sits on her dresser behind her jewelry box, never to be touched or moved again, and she’ll melt in your arms.

  • Personal Stuff

    Romance is personal. To be romantic, you must be personal and do personal kind of things. It’s sort of romantic to buy a mooshy greeting card for your loved one, but to be really romantic, you should sign it. As far as birthday presents and so forth go, you can make the gift personal by carefully considering your beloved’s interests and choosing a gift uniquely suited to her personality. Flowers always works.

  • Your Time

    One of the required ingredients of romance is your time. Nope, there’s no way out of it.

  • Blindness

    An important part of romance is selective blindness. You must not acknowledge anything about your beloved that could possibly be construed as a fault. If a nightmare suddenly woke her up from a twenty minute nap after four straight days of not sleeping at all, don’t even say she looks “tired.” If “radiant” isn’t the least of your comments about her appearance, you’re sunk. If she’s rude to someone without cause, prattle on about how much nerve that other person had for being such a big fat jerk. If she spilled pizza sauce on her chin, don’t say a word, nor give any other indication that her complexion is amiss. Paradoxically, if she gets home, looks in the mirror, and finds it still there, she’ll hate you for not telling her, so you’d better find a surreptitious way of removing it without her ever noticing — and afterward, keep that stray globule of pizza sauce your best kept secret to the day you die.

  • Remembering Birthdays and Anniversaries

    Remembering your beloved’s birthday and your anniversary isn’t so much romantic as it is a stay of execution, for surely you’ll forget someday, and when you do, you’ll find out how not romantic cold shoulders and tears are. Your safest bet is to find someone whose birthday is on Christmas, then marry her on New Year’s Day, because nobody forgets those days.

  • Pet Names

    To be romantic, you have to call each other names carefully crafted to make yourself and everyone around you throw up. This romance technique doubles as a passion meter way more accurate than those quarter eating machines in arcades; if you use these pet names and don’t throw up, you’re genuinely in love.

    Here’s how to construct your own pet name. Mix up the syllables “pook,” “wee,” “hon,” “oop,” and “ums,” (never use the syllables “skuzz” or “elch”), rhyme a lot, and make liberal references to baked goods. For example, (WARNING! WARNING! TURN YOUR FACE AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!), “Sweetie Pumpkin Pookums” is a perfectly acceptable and effective pet name, as are “Moopsie Cutie,” “Hunny Wunny Cakes,” and, for the extravagant, “Snookie Wookum Weetie Bunny Pie.” (It may seem odd to novices that cooked rodents would be romantic, but they are.) For best results, speak these pet names with a big dumb grin, an admiring gaze, and a high-pitched squeal, and follow it up with an exaggerated sigh of dreamy contentment. The most important thing to remember about this is never ever do this in front of me.

    If you need help coming up with a suitable mooshy pet name, we at RinkWorks have provided a service to help. Visit Fantasy Name Generator and select “Mushy Names.”

  • Style

    Even if you get all the essentials of romance right, a lack of style could still foul you up. Try to be as “suave” and “debonair” as you possibly can, as this is the optimum romantic style. Be as much like James Bond as you can, except for the infidelity, compulsive gambling, chain smoking, and killing people parts. Be elegant, humble, refined, independent, thoughtful, responsible, compassionate, spontaneous, reputable, graceful, polite, literate, entertaining, discreet, funny, upstanding, sensitive, fun, sophisticated, pleasant, selfless, reverent, and genuine. And if you can’t, fake it. And don’t overdo it. Subtlety is essential. If she doesn’t notice, you can always find an opportune moment to work a whispered pointer into the conversation, such as, “Notice how elegant, humble, refined, independent, thoughtful, responsible, compassionate, spontaneous, reputable, graceful, polite, literate, entertaining, discreet, funny, upstanding, sensitive, fun, sophisticated, pleasant, selfless, reverent, and genuine I am.”

    Better yet, follow the old adage, “Show, don’t tell,” and demonstrate these admirable attributes, each in turn, so she’ll be sure to take notice. Wear a tuxedo, bow to the object of your affections, kiss her hand, and say, “Why did the chicken cross the road? But seriously, you are looking beautiful today, and may I suggest we adjourn and spontaneously give thanks to God while I empathize with your inner woman in private, if indeed you’d consent to receive the fervent attentions of my lowly self? And afterward, we could go to Disneyworld.”

  • Not Having Food On Your Head

    It’s disturbingly common for romance counselors to neglect to mention this essential romance ingredient, in spite of how terribly important it is. Other romance guides blissfully skirt around this important tip, potentially leading their unwary followers to a fatal misstep. The unfortunate fact is that if you do everything else right but have a chicken pot pie oozing down over your ears, it’s not romantic at all. It’s embarrassing to the object of your affections, and embarrassment overrides romance. So when you’ve set the mood, the lighting, the background music, and put yourself in a chivalrous frame of mind, don’t forget to make sure there are no edibles above the neck, or your efforts will be in vain.

How To Propose

Unfortunately romantic comedies and sappy sitcoms have taken most of the corn–uh, good ideas already. But there are still a lot of options remaining to you. And you want it to be perfect, because you own the moment — you have as close to total control over it as you could possibly imagine. I will refrain from making the obligatory marital poke about how it might be the last such moment of your life. But you have a lot of options. If you’re fond of a good adrenaline rush, I recommend the “sweep her off her feet” option, whereby you rent a trampoline, fire yourself out of a cannon when she’s not looking, catch her in midair, and as you’re both landing in a tangled heap on the trampoline, slip the ring on her finger before she knows what hit her. If you’re looking to surprise her with your proposal, this will most likely do the trick.

On the other hand, if you’re a more reserved sort of person who prefers not to be propelled by gunpowder any more than absolutely necessary, you may prefer a different option that suits your personality better. Sit your fiancee down in one of those chair desks they have in schools and, using a blackboard, slide projector, and laser pointer, give a brief but well-prepared lecture on why it would be to your mutual benefit — legally, financially, and otherwise — to get hitched as quickly as possible. Try to use the phrase “…and it is a remarkable fact…” somewhere in your presentation. Make an indisputable argument. How could she turn down such cool-headed rationality?

Then again, perhaps your fiancee is not quite as studious as you are. Perhaps she is something of a “party girl,” as those who enjoy swift punches from zealous feminists might say. Perhaps she would prefer to share such a wondrous moment with a dozen or two of her very best friends. In that case, I would recommend taking her and a small throng of her friends out to a fine, elegant restaurant — the kind where there is a different waitperson for each course and three for the wine. Sometime between the Chicken Teriyaki Vinaigrette Caesar Salad a la Mode and the Fettucini Tortellini Lamborghini Schnitzel Alfredo on the Rocks, clear your throat to get everyone’s attention (in a gentlemanly way, of course, which means, among other things, that your napkin be involved in the maneuver). Stand up, bow to your beloved, take her hand, kneel before her, and burst into deep, resonating song. No matter if your singing voice is not so much like Luciano Pavarotti as Gilbert Gottfried; it’s your exuberance and noble intentions that count. You own the moment, so milk it for all it’s worth. Sing of love and pink bunny rabbits and whirlpools of thundering sweetness until your voice can’t take it anymore. By the end, she’ll be so moved to tears, she just might not recover until the wedding.

Whatever your method of proposing turns out to be, you must incorporate one key element, namely the element of not proposing like any other human being has ever proposed before. Any romantic proposal you see in the movies is definitely out, as are all the suggestions I’ve made in this section. So, just to be on the safe side, try proposing in some outrageous situation. Don’t let her know what you’re doing, of course. Maybe you could sneak your beloved into a parachute and onto a plane for a surprise mid-air skydiving proposal. If you have connections at NASA, the zero-gravity proposal technique is bound to succeed, as long as you figure out a way to kneel in mid-air.

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