Valentine’s Day has come and gone and, once again, we have swooped past the feast day of everybody’s favourite historically-dubious, 3rd century saint in a whirlwind of aggressive envy or resentful obligatory affection, much as we always do. I normally find myself paying as little attention to it as is humanly possible in a society dedicated to the cynical fusing of romance and consumerism for capital gain. However this year was different as I was forced to console my romantically deficient friend.
This friend has a rather annoying habit of telling me things about her life, but then again I have an annoying habit of telling complete strangers about her life by way of pseudo-humorous articles in a college newspaper; so I guess we’re even. She was, as usual, complaining about the horrific luck which she seems to have with the opposite sex. I suggested she perhaps try online dating but she assured me it was a lost cause. To support this assertion she produced an online profile which was filled to the digital brim with nothing but propositions of sex and photographic evidence of their genitals. I explained to her that she was unlikely to get anybody that way; she later clarified that they were other’s genitals.
This did make a lot of sense as they were not the genitals which my heteronormative mind would have assigned her.
“She produced an online profile which was filled to the digital brim with nothing but propositions of sex and photographic evidence of their genitals.”
Regardless, I was shocked by these gestures. They seem to me to be a remarkably confident opening gambit. I personally favour the classic hanging around a woman long enough until you inevitably catch them at their absolute lowest ebb and trick them into going out with you; but each to their own I guess.
I had always assumed that stories of such happenings were purely the thing of cliché and legend but I assure you they were real. Now, this act alone is a source of amusement to many, but I feel that the thing most people are missing is that they’re not even good genitals. Now while I myself am not a partaker of such products, I am still aware of the difference between a good and bad pair. Suffice it to say, these were in the latter grouping. I felt sorry for my poor lovelorn friend who, despite her never ending complaints and neediness, still had somehow not managed to acquire a mate. It beggars belief!
That was until she uttered a long established platitude through her increased sobbing. “Why can’t I find a nice romantic guy, one who will write me poetry… Love is dead…” I stopped listening and walked away at this point as I had heard it all before. However this exchange was not completely without merit as it gave me the impetus to research a little about the origins of romantic poetry and see if romance truly was dead. It was while doing this that I happened upon one Francesco Petrarch.
For those of you not in the know, Petrarch was the pre-Renaissance poet who essentially created the love sonnet. He wrote reams of love poetry, all for his muse Laura. Beautiful, right? But scholars have worked out that this ‘Laura’ was not a woman he actually knew but somebody he seedily leered at while bored one day in mass. A lecherous young man, peering around pews in order to fuel his ever hungry sonnet bank; feverishly working at home later that night, writing highly structured romantic prose about the unsuspecting maiden.
This nagged me as writing romantic prose to women unaware of my existence is how I spent my teenage years and was chastised for it, not hailed as the most romantic man in all of pre-renaissance Italy. Although, looking back now, I can see other hurdles perhaps keeping me from achieving that title.
“Writing romantic prose to women unaware of my existence is how I spent my teenage years and was chastised for it.”
There is yet one further wrinkle to this supposed dream man that you ladies may want to know before you go racing for the nearest time-machine in an effort to convene with your puffy panted sweetheart and all his stalkerish glory. While his poetry undoubtedly has an amazing lyricism to it, he is somewhat problematically obsessed with hunting metaphors. In theory perhaps not so scary but, in practice, this gives his poems a scarily aggressive slant; a trait normally climaxing with his chasing down of his metaphorical prey with a more than slightly phallic spear.
When you look at the origin of love poetry in that way, the fact that 700 years into the future men have taken to sending photographic evidence of their penises to women by way of courtship kind of makes a bizarre perverse sense. So you see my friends, do not fret. Romance is not dead, it just never really existed in the first place.