To the writer of romance stories

Which means, I suppose, that this is here primarily for my benefit:

Romance requires an obstacle, eroticism requires a trespass. Don’t bother looking that up, I came up with it. A story about two people hooking up at a bar has no romance in it, not because of the trashy aspects, but because there‚Äôs nothing for the lovers to overcome.

Which may be why, as Lisa Simpson insists, “romance is dead: it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.”

So what we need would be more obstacles, right?

One time I hit the complete jackpot in that regard when I met a married woman who lived four hundred miles away and who hated my guts so much already she’d created fake accounts on a popular car forum for the sole purpose of slandering me. Oh yeah, plus she was a decade younger than I was and so medically depressed I continually worried she was going to jump out of her condo window. Talk about obstacles stacked on top of obstacles. The stage was definitely set for romance, although the resulting relationship was basically an Amtrak off the side of a mountain. Doesn’t matter. The journey, not the destination, and all that.

There is, I am assured, a thin line between love and hate. I figure I’m far too clumsy to be trusted anywhere in its vicinity.


  1. fillyjonk »

    3 September 2013 · 7:52 am

    I dunno, I am also reminded by that last bit of the line attributed to Elie Wiesel, that hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is.

    But yes, the “romance requires an obstacle…” bit rings true to me. And I haven’t even read many romances, unless you count Jane Austen. (I don’t). And I haven’t read any erotica (despite my claims of being perpetually 12, there are some things that embarrass me greatly)

  2. Jack Baruth »

    3 September 2013 · 8:33 am

    Women, I always say, are AM, not FM.

    The amplitude of their feelings is what’s important. The frequency can change at any time, from affection to hatred and back again.

  3. Tatyana »

    3 September 2013 · 10:29 am

    Read the comments @the original post…if that’s the typical audience of the car blogs/magazines, I have no regrets for being incurious.
    They are sad, sad and weird, these guys. And I can’t understand their GFs.

  4. fillyjonk »

    3 September 2013 · 10:40 am

    Most comments on most widely-public sites (e.g., newspapers, extremely-high-reader-count blogs) seem to reveal that much of humanity is either sad, weird, or very trollish.

  5. Jeffro »

    3 September 2013 · 8:34 pm

    Impressive! Mr. Baruth comments here!

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