Thursday, August 4, 2011

Verisimilitude: Natural Romance - Working Together

Reading thuRsday

I've mentioned before that the TV series Babylon 5 is a profitable case study in long-form storytelling. It's also a gold mine of character insight. One scene, in particular, sprang to mind as I considered how to develop this week's topic.

During an especially stressful time, when the titular space station was cut off from Earth by a civil war, a visiting minister advised the captain to find someone with whom he could share his burdens.
"You know, before I got married, Emily used to come by sometimes and help me clean out my apartment. Well, I asked her, "How come you're so eager to help me clean up my place when your place is just as bad? She said, "Because cleaning up your place helps me to forget what a mess I made of mine. And when I sweep my floor, all I've done is sweep my floor. But when I help you clean up your place, I am helping you." Of course, the way I lived back then sometimes the mess was too much for both of us, but ... it sure was nice to have the company."
Natural romances are also long-form stories. There are a lot of hours to pass when you're spending your life together and in the grand sweep of time, most of those hours will be spent on romantic things like sleeping and working.

"Sleeping and working," you may object, "are hardly romantic."

But if you enjoy the company and appreciate the help, just about anything can contribute to your romance if you're working together. When we were dating, I once took my wife to help me milk a cow. My sisters were appalled that I called it a date, but we had a lovely time (and it was the beginning of many such lovely times).

A number of species have mating dances, in which the partners synchronize their movements as they draw closer together. In many cases, the dance displays the health and vigor of the individuals and proves their suitability as a mate.

We are, of course, much more sophisticated than the creatures with which we share the planet and yet romance can be seen as a mating dance that spans dimensions from the physiological to the social. Our goal in each of those dimensions is to find out if we can work together because that's one of the main ways couples complete each other.

The verisimilitude of your romance will suffer if your couple does nothing except share candle-lit suppers and passionate evenings. In contrast, natural romances are often kindled between people who have done something difficult together: the shared experience provides strong evidence that they can work together. So when you're stocking up to provision your romance, don't forget the elbow-grease.


Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net