An Old Romantic

I have a confession to make.

A confession some may find hard to believe, particularly if they’ve ever had the pleasure of my Rottweiler-like customer service at work.

But here it is.

I am an old romantic.

I call it a confession because it seems in this day and age ‘Romance’ has become a dirty word.

Romance, in its truest, traditional, black and white sense has, ironically, been wiped off the face of the earth by a change in culture that we threw ourselves in front of horses to achieve.

It’s a clash of interests that tugs on my own inner conflict. I’m an old romantic but I am also, thanks to a matriarchal upbringing, and a very good education in Women’s Literature, a feminist.

I firmly believe that women should receive equality in all aspects of work and life… but then I’m also a sucker for good old-fashioned chivalry, and unfortunately, the two seem to contradict each other. We can’t exactly storm the streets on Slut Marches, burning our bras, just to reach the pub afterwards and complain that some guy didn’t hold the door open for us. By the same standards we would be expected to curtsy, and you certainly shouldn’t go around curtsying without a bra on!

Worse still, any gentlemanly gestures women do receive these days are so sparse and surprising we usually confuse them as sleazy. Granted, they often are, but it’s a sad state of affairs all the same.

It’s not often that I’ll commend any traditional belief or custom that comes out of Texas, but I relish the opportunity to serve our resident Texan at the bar, because when he says “Thank-you Ma’am” in his soft-spoken way, something inside me sings!

Something I inherited from my ancestors along with the womb and utter dependence on Tea and Chocolate, something that has grown tired and dormant through years of seclusion and neglect. All women, and men too, have it in there somewhere among the mess of hormones and internal organs, it is our old romantic, twiddling its thumbs in the faint hope that the Gentlemen and the Dandies will make a revolutionary comeback, wearing buttonholes and helping us in and out of carriages. Ah those were the days of sweet social constraint.

Yes, I know it doesn’t make any sense.

It’s the same reason that some of the world’s finest Feminist activists have a soft spot for Jane Austen and read Cosmo every month. We’re women; we are genetically built to contradict ourselves. And it’s romance’s fault.

But I still love it.

I am in love with love. I am in love with the flowers and chocolates and declarations of love from below the balcony. I adore stories of star-crossed lovers, doomed romances, the Hollywood kisses, and the black and white movies, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Yes it’s all very old-fashioned and cheesy but it would be nice to indulge in it once in a while.

At the age of 23 I can count my truly romantic experiences on one hand and even they are nothing to write a Rom-Com about. And most of these experiences, like most of any life-experience worth talking about, happened under the influence. It is a very lovely thing to be slow-danced down the middle of the Railway Road on a Saturday night but it’s not something either of us would have attempted in the cold light of day.

Young girls are brought up on a diet of fairytales and Prince Charming. Shrek brought it all to light a few years ago. Fiona grew up dreaming of the gallant knight who would slay the dragon and rescue her from the tower, yes she ends up marrying the ogre, but he still performs all the courageous duties of a hero to win her over.

And what is the modern age equivalent?

At the young and impressionable age of 17 my heart was won over on a tipsy walk home from the pub, when my childhood sweetheart risked life and death to run into the immaculate garden of an evil monster and snatch the perfect, beautiful, and singular Lily that took pride of place in the centre of the floral display.

I’m sure the ‘evil monster’ was in fact a lovely old woman whose garden, and in particular her prize lily, was her pride and joy, but I had to make myself feel mildly better about taking her pride and joy as a token of my young love.

That is the height of my romantic existence. And while the relationship powered on for another few years, the romance, like the lily, didn’t live very long.

Real life doesn’t give us much time for true romance or old-fashioned chivalry but it does exist. And despite all the evidence to the contrary, I endeavour to believe in true romance.

Yes, I am a contradiction. I won’t be anybody’s damsel in distress, let’s be honest, I am more likely to be mistaken for the dragon. I will not be found at the top of a tower sighing longingly at the thoughts of Prince Charming.

But I expect nothing less than a knight in shining armour.

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