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How To Be Romantic

By Samuel Stoddard

Being romantic is hard work. Some people think that romance is easy, that anybody can be romantic with very little work. This is not true. To be romantic there are a lot of things you must know about romance and a lot of situations you must prepare for. For example, you and your beloved plan a date for next Friday night. You ask where she'd like to go. "Oh, I don't know," is her reply. "Surprise me. I know you'll think of something special." What do you do? Give up? Read on and learn the secrets of romance.

What Is Romance?

Romance is a nebulous thing with the curious property of being describable but not definable. We won't muck with your head and try to suggest there's an ultimate definitive definition out there. Some people will try to do just that and come up with some tidy little definition, like, "Romance is showing you care." Sure, it sounds good at first, but although draping your coat over a puddle and asking if she remembered to brush her teeth that morning may be actions triggered by this same motivation, they rate distinctly differently on the romance scale.

Although it's not so much a definition, as it is no more precise than the word "romance" itself, one way to describe romance succinctly is "what women want out of a relationship." In other words, men aren't romantic, and if you're a man, that's why you need this guide. If you're a woman, of course, you were born with an innate knowledge of this stuff and need not read further.

But though romance may not be definable, there are still some hard fast rules. Below, we have documented many of the atomic elements of romance. Mix these ingredients up, and you've got it.

How To Propose

Unfortunately romantic comedies and sappy sitcoms have taken most of the corn--uh, good ideas already. But there are still a lot of options remaining to you. And you want it to be perfect, because you own the moment -- you have as close to total control over it as you could possibly imagine. I will refrain from making the obligatory marital poke about how it might be the last such moment of your life. But you have a lot of options. If you're fond of a good adrenaline rush, I recommend the "sweep her off her feet" option, whereby you rent a trampoline, fire yourself out of a cannon when she's not looking, catch her in midair, and as you're both landing in a tangled heap on the trampoline, slip the ring on her finger before she knows what hit her. If you're looking to surprise her with your proposal, this will most likely do the trick.

On the other hand, if you're a more reserved sort of person who prefers not to be propelled by gunpowder any more than absolutely necessary, you may prefer a different option that suits your personality better. Sit your fiancee down in one of those chair desks they have in schools and, using a blackboard, slide projector, and laser pointer, give a brief but well-prepared lecture on why it would be to your mutual benefit -- legally, financially, and otherwise -- to get hitched as quickly as possible. Try to use the phrase "...and it is a remarkable fact..." somewhere in your presentation. Make an indisputable argument. How could she turn down such cool-headed rationality?

Then again, perhaps your fiancee is not quite as studious as you are. Perhaps she is something of a "party girl," as those who enjoy swift punches from zealous feminists might say. Perhaps she would prefer to share such a wondrous moment with a dozen or two of her very best friends. In that case, I would recommend taking her and a small throng of her friends out to a fine, elegant restaurant -- the kind where there is a different waitperson for each course and three for the wine. Sometime between the Chicken Teriyaki Vinaigrette Caesar Salad a la Mode and the Fettucini Tortellini Lamborghini Schnitzel Alfredo on the Rocks, clear your throat to get everyone's attention (in a gentlemanly way, of course, which means, among other things, that your napkin be involved in the maneuver). Stand up, bow to your beloved, take her hand, kneel before her, and burst into deep, resonating song. No matter if your singing voice is not so much like Luciano Pavarotti as Gilbert Gottfried; it's your exuberance and noble intentions that count. You own the moment, so milk it for all it's worth. Sing of love and pink bunny rabbits and whirlpools of thundering sweetness until your voice can't take it anymore. By the end, she'll be so moved to tears, she just might not recover until the wedding.

Whatever your method of proposing turns out to be, you must incorporate one key element, namely the element of not proposing like any other human being has ever proposed before. Any romantic proposal you see in the movies is definitely out, as are all the suggestions I've made in this section. So, just to be on the safe side, try proposing in some outrageous situation. Don't let her know what you're doing, of course. Maybe you could sneak your beloved into a parachute and onto a plane for a surprise mid-air skydiving proposal. If you have connections at NASA, the zero-gravity proposal technique is bound to succeed, as long as you figure out a way to kneel in mid-air.


To sum up, the fundamental message of this guide is that, no matter how hard you try, you can't be romantic enough. But if you study the pointers given above, learn them by heart, remain conscientious of them at all times, you might be able to buy yourself a temporary reprieve now and then. The next step is to coordinate when these moments occur, such as just before the World Series. Good luck.

If you liked How To Be Romantic, try our companion features:

How To Be Funny How To Be Persuasive