â€œOkay boys,â€ my professor addressed our stadium seating Human Sexuality 101 class, â€œWhat is romance?â€
Like the first kernels of Jiffy Pop, one by one the boys slowly popped out with, â€œNaked.â€ â€œWarm.â€ â€œBeing close.â€ â€œBeing together.â€
â€œYes! Naked, warm, and being together,â€ my teacher repeated, smiling because theyâ€™d played right into her hands. â€œOkay, now girls. What is romance to you?â€
Like the boys, we were slow to warm, â€œChocolate.â€ â€œCandlelight.â€ â€œFlowers.â€
â€œYes!â€ my professor exclaimed with the same orgasmic enthusiasm as Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sallyâ€¦
â€œYou see the problem here?â€ she asked. â€œWe are different. We see romance differently.â€
She went on with another of her legendary funny-yet-informative lectures, but I donâ€™t remember it. Great as she was what I remember most of her class was what I learned in that one â€œding-ding-dingâ€ moment.
Maybe because it was reinforced later that week…
See, me and my then-boyfriend/now-husband were celebrating our first Valentineâ€™s Day. And he wanted it perfect because he knew how sentimental I was.
And though he doesnâ€™t like Italian food, he even ordered in from a fancy Italian restaurant because that was neutral ground for a vegetarian like me and a heathen, I mean, carnivore like him.
Long story short, it didnâ€™t go well.
That lovely Italian place he ordered from just for me? They took over two hours to get us our food. Cranky and hungry, it was all we could do to not bite each otherâ€™s heads off, much less get all lovey dovey and sentimental.
When the food and wine came, we were thinking, â€œGreat. It can only go up from here.â€
Now, Iâ€™m not a big wine-o and I was ravenous so it took me a couple bites before it hit me that my eggplant parmesan wasnâ€™tâ€¦right.
Did I mention I was pretty hardcore vegetarian at the time?
So I took another bite, chewing carefully. â€œUh, I think this is veal parmesan.â€ (I mightâ€™ve dry-heaved around here.)
â€œNuh-uh,â€ he said in total disbelief. â€œHere, let me try,â€ he speared a bite. Swallowing, his face fell.
â€œItâ€™s okay. Iâ€™ll eat around it.â€
He rolled his eyes, â€œYou canâ€™t eat around that.â€
â€œSure I can.â€
But it was nothinâ€™ doinâ€™. We switched plates so I could at least pick the pasta out of his shrimp dish.
He was so bummed. â€œI just wanted to make this special for you.â€
â€œBut you donâ€™t have to. What makes tonight special is us being together.â€
Hmmâ€¦where had I heard that before? Oh yeah! The Romance lecture!
â€œYou know what would make tonight really special?â€ I asked.
â€œNo,â€ he says, eyes on the floor, the picture of disappointment.
I took my top off.
That got his attention.
â€œTonightâ€™s special because weâ€™re together. The other stuff doesnâ€™t matter.â€
And it didnâ€™t.
Wait! Do you hear that?
That was our door slamming.
Letâ€™s just say, I got my romanceâ€¦and he got his.
Dana Diamond is Co-Media Director for OCC/RWA, a contributor to OCC’s e-zine A Slice Of Orange, and hard at work on her next book. For past interviews visit the Orange Blossom section of OCC’s award-winning website.