Last Sunday night I quickly grew depressed then resigned as I squinted through the glitz to see teeming rows upon rows of plastic expressions, over-processed hair, and inflated lips. It's as though stars no longer grow old, but instead grow ludicrously comical and ridiculously fake. Fifty on screen no longer looks like Perry Mason or Edith Bunker, but like a cartoon duck. Why fight aging just to end up with a booby prize? Why fight aging at all? Are wrinkles really so much worse than bubble lips and sucked in cheeks?
Is it so bad to live life and show the evidence?
Damn it, I kind of stepped in a puddle here. I uh, em, dye my hair. Ever since the age of 28, I've been having the gray highlighted out of the blonde. I'll never forget the first time I asked my hair guy extraordinaire Jordy if he could touch things up a bit.
Me: Could you maybe highlight it a little? I've got few strands of gray here in front.
Jordy: Honey! You've got gray all over!
So, I, too, fight aging in my own way. By keeping my fly-away split ends as sunny golden as they were when I was a kid. And you know what? You might not like the way my hair looks. You might think I should condition it, perm it, heck, on some days brush it.
But that's okay. Because I like the way I look. And today's stars – or at least the agents of today's stars and LOTS of fans - like the way they look. I'm okay, you're okay. Or even if you're not, it's not my business. And vice versa, I'm sure, to quote Sherri Ann Cabot. I think it's cool to be cool with one another. Sound good? Truth is, lots of people thrill to this idea of acceptance.
How do I know? Because it's the essence of romance and lots of people read romance. Romance reveals the journey of two people becoming more tolerant, more understanding of one another. The Walls of Jericho come down, bit by bit, (not necessarily with the fanfare of a toy bugle) so that two people can recognize and feel that pulsing core of some truth, some frequency, some rhythm that they share. And it is this simpatico that will keep them happily together.
The story starts out, and the two people clash, as do Elizabeth and Darcy, Mindy and Danny. But it's there, early on - a vibe like the hum from a refrigerator that tells you these two would be so good together. For Elizabeth and Darcy, their manners are quite different, yet neither one performs to anyone. Each lives according to exacting truth. But they have to overcome the barrier of disparate manners in order to realize the values they share. And Mindy and Danny? In the first episode, it becomes clear that they know each other on a deep level because each knows exactly how to cut the other to quick. Danny tells Mindy she needs to lose 15 pounds, and Mindy derides Danny for having gotten divorced. But at this point in their relationship, their feelings find expression only through insults and one-upsmanship. As the series progresses, they break down each others' walls and move in closer.
And that's the kind of romance I like. Not one that begins with a mutually immediate sexual spark, but one that begins with something...else. Some subtle hint that lets you know that these two are skating along the same wavelength, that they've got what it takes to be amazing together. It can be just one word, just one action, just one brief exchange. Like Ron's awed amazement - “Hermione!” - when she slaps Draco.
I planted my first clue that Lisa and Jack hear the same distant bongo beat in Chapter Two of my novel She Likes It Rough. It's there for anyone to see by browsing through the beginning of the book online.
Think you can find it?
And by the way, in case you love pop culture references and trivia as much as I do...
1. When Sherri Ann Cabot says, "Vice versa, I'm sure," what is she doing?
2. Who buys the toy bugle?
3. What provokes Hermione to slap Draco?
4. Who is Larry's Lizzy?