In case you were wondering who the most beautiful woman in Spring Valley, Ohio is, the answer is “Crystal Patterson.” I Googled this for verification, and though I couldn’t find any documentation supporting this claim, I know it’s true, because it’s spray painted in huge blue letters on the wall of an underpass on one of the bike trails I ride. The opposite wall proclaims the spray painter’s love for Crystal Patterson in an equally huge scrawl. It’s such a romantic gesture of adoration (or psychotic obsession) that it completely cancels out the vandalism. The police could never make such a charge stick. It’s like Dennis the Menace scrawling “I love Mom” all over the walls. How can you spank someone for that?
About a month ago, Tom and I were cycling on a trail that runs beside the Little Miami River. As we rode, I suddenly became aware of the sounds of music coming from the direction of the water. It was so lovely that I stopped my bike and peered through the foliage to see where it was coming from. Down in the water was this perfect looking guy: his teeth were snowy white against his tanned complexion and he had such perfect chin stubble that I could see it from a hundred yards away. He was wearing a cool straw hat and cut off shorts, and was sitting in a canoe with a beautiful woman in a flouncy hat and a colorful, flowing wrap. She was coolly doing needlework while he serenaded her from the opposite end of the boat with a violin that he’d conveniently brought for the occassion.
Tom said something like, “Yeesh,” but I was transfixed by this beautiful scene. It was like a painting, a concert, and a romantic movie all at once. At the end of each song, all of the other canoeists on the water applauded, then Gorgeous deftly moved on to the next selection in his repertoire, effortlessly gliding from classical to Cajun to bluegrass to contemporary. Cary Grant couldn’t have orchestrated it better.
“I’m getting you a violin,” I told Tom. “And we need a canoe.”
“Yeesh,” he replied.
I would like to offer a few tips to those men who, like my boyfriend, may be slightly romantically impaired. NOTE: I am not a paid professional. Please try this at home.
1: If your partner asks, “Do I look fat?” Do not say, “We work with what we have.”
2: My ex-husband’s motto was, “Romance is a clean kitchen.” If this is yours, don’t be surprised if the little woman gives you a broom and some Platex Living Gloves for Valentine’s day. I suggest a different motto. “Romance is a Merry Maid,” for example.
3: Lie. Lie through your teeth. Not about the important stuff, like fidelity and love, but about the really shallow stuff, like beauty and sexiness and how PMS and pre-menopause are intriguing and only add to the hotness of your relationship. And about how small her butt looks in those jeans.
4: Death Wish XXVI: not romantic. Under the Tuscan Sun: romantic. Try not to roll your eyes, sigh, or say, “Oh brother,” while viewing.
5: If you screw up and drool on your menu when the cute waitress takes your order, or if your head involuntarily turns 90 degrees each time a hot young thang is in your vicinity, immediately turn to your woman, pat her hand or thigh and say, “Thank God for you.” Or something equally as grovelling.
6: If your mind is far away, and you’re fondly reminiscing about some past lover, have an answer at the ready when your partner asks what you’re thinking about. “I was just wondering how Barney sees in that big giant costume,” or “Was Jacques Cousteau’s middle name really Yves?” for example. This will keep you from getting a meat platter embedded in your head.
7: Camo is not a good pattern for lingerie. Buy solids.
8: Sharing a combo meal on the tailgate of a pickup is not a romantic dinner for two, even if there are stars in the sky.
9: “Cat Scratch Fever” is not a love song.
10: A Hershey bar and a box of truffles are two entirely different things.
Please, oh please don’t think that I’m man-bashing here. I just think sometimes guys need a little gentle guidance in the romance department. At least mine does. But take heart– we women have long memories. Long memories for the bad stuff, like what you said when you saw that awful new haircut fifteen years ago, but long memories for the good stuff too.
Several months after Tom and I had been dating, he and I were sitting on my porch on a dusky evening. “Oh, I brought you something. I almost forgot,” he said, and went to his truck to retrieve it. I was expecting a book he’d been talking about, or a garden shovel he was going to loan me. Instead, he came back and sat down beside me.
“About a year ago, I discovered this little shop on one of my bike rides,” he told me. “I saw this Celtic knot ring that I really liked, and I wanted to buy it for myself.” He held out his hand and showed me the ring that he always wore. “Then I started thinking, You know, one day, I’m going to meet someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with. So I bought two rings– one for myself, and one for that woman I would one day meet.” Then he reached in his pocket and handed me a box. Inside was a perfect silver ring, identical to the one he had on his hand. I haven’t taken it off since.
So, no matter how unromantic things may get at times, or how often the wrong thing seems to pop out of his mouth (or mine) at just the wrong time, he’ll always be my Dennis the Menace, scrawling “I love you” in crayon on the walls. And I’ll always feel like his Crystal Patterson.
Sometimes, you guys do things soooo right.