Saturday, March 10, 2018
The Black Holes of Romance Books
My mind has taken a bizarre twist today. I have two sons. Boys find body humor hilarious. I think we all did as kids but as adults, we supposedly grow out of it. Yet, no matter our age, 8 - 80, when a toot occurs in an incongruous arena and takes us by surprise? We revert to the inner child and giggle, snicker or disguise our laugh with a cough. No matter what, we tap into the humor. Yes, it might be embarrassing for the tootee, but it's hard to keep a straight face sometimes.
Romance stories tend to gloss over or outright ignore the basic things we do. Sometimes, daringly so, an author will include it. If they include the scene just right, it can be hilarious. But that's the exception to the rule. For most, they simply don't exist! The black holes of romance.
1) Lovers wake up in the morning and immediately proceed to engage in passionate kissing. Some actually dare to mention 'loving his or her smell'. Really? Morning breath has fans? It's a great scene when an author can make that moment funny. There are a few books out there that address this. Most just ignore it. Personally, I find it very hard to ignore. Oral hygiene is one thing that tends to fall into a black hole.
2) It goes by many names but I'll just refer to it as 'toots'. Rare is the book that can mention it in a comic sense. There's only ONE book that comes to mind and it's The Corset Diaries by Katie MacAlister. It was the first occasion I had ever seen a toot used in hilarious context and the memory of it remains to this day. Otherwise, it's another black hole when it comes to romance stories.
3) Burps. I'm not talking about burping babies, or manly belches after consuming beer. I'm referring to scenes in a romance book where the natural result of eating or drinking fast never happens. Have you ever opened your mouth to say something and a burp bursts out? How about meeting the parents of your date at a nice restaurant and a burp makes a loud entrance? Burps happen. Often at the most innocuous of times. Yet, I don't read about it in romance book scenes. Burps all fall into a black hole.
4) Brushing teeth. There are some who do broach that subject. A few call it by name, many refer to it as 'freshening up'. But to have a his and hers teeth brushing scene? It's not really romantic, is it? So, unless it's put in there as a means to get beyond 'morning breath', it's not really put in there. IRL we all do it but since it's fantasy, heroes and heroines have perfect teeth all the time. Unless it's the book How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks. Ms. Sparks made a vampire needing a dentist, funny. Otherwise? Another black hole moment.
5) A long shower without sex. Seriously. Most of the stories I've read fall into two categories - long showers for sex, alone or with others, OR they are the fastest dang events in history. If a heroine has long hair and she takes a shower, HOW can she be 'ready in 10 or 5 minutes"? When I freshen up, it's shower, drying, teeth, and body function (you pick the order), perfuming and/or powdering - HOW can that be done in less than 10 minutes? Of course the hero looks at the heroine with appreciation and compliments her on how sexy and well put together she is. Seriously? My hair would be a limp rat down my back, I'd probably still be damp and will have toothpaste stuck to the side of my mouth. And makeup? Forget it! So, realistic bathroom procedures go down into a black hole.
6) Meals. They are always perfect. They always have the best, fresh ingredients. They are always ready in minutes, no matter how complicated they are. And what's with always making this pasta Bolognese dish? From the recipes I've checked out, it's not exactly fast and I would NOT just happen to have the ingredients on hand. That would take planning. But, in romance stories, they never plan and their omelettes never turn into scrambled eggs. Having a kitchen experience I can relate to in a romance story is nonexistent. A culinary black hole.
7) I can't think of one book that I've read in the past 5 years that even has a hero or heroine blowing their nose (without being sick), having an embarrassing nose goblin or sneezing in a realistic manner - you know the kind, it sort of echos, has moisture torpedos zooming across the room at mach speed and you feel dizzy with relief afterwards, which quickly morphs into embarrassment when you notice everyone is looking at you? Never happens in romance books. A nose's antics are definitely black hole-worthy.
I think the only author that even approaches tackling some of this black hole list in her books and makes them funny is actually Katie MacAlister. I'd be curious to know if you have found other authors who ingeniously, and perhaps even hilariously, interweaves some of this list in the course of telling their romance story. If so, please share. I'll add them to my TBR pile. It would be nice to find out the black hole in romance isn't as deep as I thought.