Sunday, 27 January 2013

Will you still respect me in the morning?

Will you still respect me in the morning?
27 January 2013

There are some things that I am less proud of than others.  Some that leave me feeling mortified and I’m actually rather embarrassed to admit to them.  Scrap that – VERY embarrassed to admit to them, but here goes…..

When my Dad had cancer and it became inevitable that he would die, I found myself unable to cope.  I was a new mother to a little baby and I was trying to get a new business off the ground too.  I needed some escapism.  A break from a very harsh reality.  One I was unable to deal with.

Oh, the baby bit was fine – it was fun and oh so rewarding and Luke was just so blessedly cute!  The business bit was overwhelming and all new to me too, but I coped with it.  I loved what I was doing.  It was actually the dying father bit that really wound me up.

Reading was the obvious solution.  I had always been mad about reading and getting lost in a story.  But whereas I had previously enjoyed the odd neutral type of book, requiring not much thinking, possibly a spot of romance, a bit of adventure and intrigue, I found that this was not working.  It still required a level of concentration that I was not able to deliver at that given time.  In the past I had also enjoyed select biographies and autobiographies about interesting people, but these were even less appealing and successful in distracting me and holding my attention.  I could not take anything in.  As I was reading, the words seemed to bump and bounce right out of my brain.  If they even made it that far in the first place.  I would lose track of where I was and spend absolute ages reading the same page again and again.  Over and over with no comprehension of what I’d just read.

And then all of a sudden, I had a light bulb moment.  Oprah would have called it an “Aha!” moment.  The solution became very obvious to me.  I had to read fluffy brainless books, requiring no brain activity at all.  In fact, absence of a brain was even better.  Books that were predictable and simply always had happy endings.

Only one type of book met all of these requirements.  In fact every single last one.  And here is my cringe moment, my most embarrassing secret of all – I read Mills & Boons books by the truckload.  And when I say truckload, I’m not talking little eensy weensy trucks either.  We’re talking beeeg trucks.  Eighteen wheelers at least.  I could not keep up, nor get enough.  One after the other – again and again.  I even became a bit of a Mills & Swoon connoisseur.  Reading a select few authors’ offerings only.  They churn them out fairly quickly.  Releasing a few books a year.  I think they sort of follow a recipe to cook one up.  And hence it doesn’t take all that long.

The 2nd hand book shop became my favourite hangout.  The books were cheap, affordable and accessible.  And there were fellow equally mortified romantic novel fans there too.  None of us ever made eye contact.  So embarrassed were we to be seen there.  And as soon as I made my purchases, I would hide them deep in my enormous big bag.  I always went well prepared.  In fact, I stopped just short of hiding behind a hoodie and a big pair of shades whenever I left the shop.

The recipe for a romantic novel seems pretty straightforward to me.  Beautiful, charming, shy, yet refreshingly outspoken girl, from under privileged and poor background, meets handsome, ridiculously wealthy and rather austere man.  Preferably he is a count or some such and for some of other reason, he always has a square jaw.  Personally I don’t get the whole square jaw thing, but it seems to be a pre-requisite.  He is always a wealthy landowner and is usually a genius in the financial field, normally with a few businesses up his sleeve.  There is also usually a horrid ex-girlfriend or “family friend” in the picture – eager to make trouble.  Naturally he owns jets, yacht and villa’s galore.  Occasionally, even the odd small island. 

As for the young, beautiful girl on the other hand, she normally has a horrible abusive stepdad.  Or possibly even a stepmom.  Poverty is key to her make-up.  She is humble, sweet and kind to animals.  She is simply always unaware of her gorgeous good looks and usually a wardrobe make-over does the trick to bring her toned and voluptuous body to the fore. (Shame – she couldn’t really afford to dress properly before).

The reason for boy-meets-girl is usually pretty predictable too.  The reasons their paths should cross.  Being joint guardians of orphaned nieces and nephews a recurring theme.  Then there’s the working class girl who’s a secretary or works in a flower shop (I do find the flower shop thing pretty odd too – I mean how many flower shop assistants could there possibly be?).  Maybe she’s a lowly housekeeper.  Sometimes amnesia brought about by an awful accident, caused indirectly by our hero is the cause.  Often she’s in a terrible financial pickle, brought about by a reckless and selfish family member, leaving her to repay the debt.  An ill mother needing life-saving and expensive surgery also works quite well.

So see, it is quite addictive and soul cleansing to read this drivel.  Simply no sadness involved.  No one ever dies.  And if they do, it’s normally those awful stepfathers, or saintly ancient old grannies, way past their prime.  Their death is glossed over and causes no actual pain.  There is no hardship.  No cruelty.  No suffering either.

These books are always 185 pages long.  By page 10, we’ve been introduced by all.  By page 30 they’ve had at least one chance encounter and the sparks are starting to fly.  By page 70 things are starting to heat up.  The interfering ex-girlfriend is really stirring things up.  Alternatively, the sick mother has had her operation and occasionally, she even lives.  By page 100 they’ve had their first kiss.  But obviously they’re both still waging an internal battle, fighting their mutual attraction.  By page 130 they’re drawing ever closer and have had the odd romantic and tender moment.  There is clearly signs of hope.  By page 150, the evil ex-girlfriend has been exposed and they’ve had at least on trip in his yacht or jet.  By page 180, they both declare their undying love for each other.  He proposes and confesses his deep and abiding love for her.  Blah-blah-blah.  Segue yachting off to island for two where they will be staying in his villa.  By page 185, we’re hitting the epilogue with the predictable happy ending.  They’ve had their obligatory pigeon pair kids.  Naturally a boy first, that looks just like his handsome dad (strong signs of a square jaw already visible).  Followed by a cute little girl, looking just like her mom.

So see!  What’s not to love?  I would however like to gladly inform you that I have moved on.  No more Mills & Swoon or Harlequin Romance for me.  I read big girl books now.  Still happy endings though – I won’t give up on that.  Occasionally I hit a dud, but for the most part my book choices are successful.

But every so often, I have a little relapse and dip into some Mills & Boon some more.  Hey, don’t judge me.  I dare you to give it a bash yourself.  You know you want to. 

I promise I’ll still respect you.

1 comment:

  1. I just love your blogs! This one is excellent - written so honestly - thanks for sharing :)