Saturday, January 24, 2009
IMHO: I'm more than pleased to welcome Brenda Scott Royce to the Romance Roundup Gift Basket party (or as I'm sub-dubbing it, "The BIG BASKET OF LOOOOVE"). How many other authors' work has Janet Evanovich called "as delicious as a jelly doughnut"? Well, I have no idea, really, but I'd bet Brenda's is the only one.
This award-winning author of Monkey Love and Monkey Star has not only had her work compared to yummy pastries, but had it read on-air by Regis Philbin. Monkey Love was featured in OK!, Elle, Quick & Simple, and Entertainment Weekly magazines. Monkey Star won the Book Buyers Best Award for 2008. And why is that, you ask? Because she's funny, and she writes that way, too. She'll be putting one of her Monkey books in the basket (she's decided to surprise IMHO and the winner as to which one), so maybe you'll be the lucky winner.
BSR: Thanks, TJ, for inviting me to discuss what romance means to me!
Romance is about having fun. Oh sure, the big flowery stuff is fabulous from time to time, and the day-to-day niceties (like my husband bringing me my favorite Starbucks beverage out of the blue) cause my heart to skip a happy beat. But for me, laughter is the glue that bonds a relationship.
A shared sense of humor is one of the elements of a lasting marriage. When other things fade, people want someone they can laugh with. I know I do.
Love itself can be pretty darn funny. Is there any one reading this who hasn’t done something crazy in the name of love? I have, many times. One of mine involves a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and a rented gorilla costume.
Let me explain. My husband is more of a traditional romantic. Our first Valentine’s Day together, I came home to find my apartment transformed into the coziest little love nest you could imagine. He’d thought of everything—chilled champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, long-stemmed roses, scented candles, soft music … the list goes on. All this after he’d duped me into thinking he was sick and wouldn’t be able to come over for Valentine’s Day. So when I trudged up the stairs after a late class, turned the key in my door and saw him standing there—did I mention, in a tux?—he took my breath away.
The next year, he turned the tables on me, saying it was my turn to make our Valentine’s plans. I knew I couldn’t possibly top what he’d done. Moreover, going the traditional route made me feel like I was following a checklist: flowers, check; wine, check; Hallmark card, check; boring, check…
So I scrapped all that. Well, not all of it. I planted a Valentine’s message in his car and left a box of chocolates on his desk. Then I picked up a bottle of wine, a dozen roses, and a rented gorilla costume and drove to the campus of the college where he teaches.
I didn’t just pick “gorilla” out of the blue. My college degree is in primatology, and I used to work as a chimpanzee caretaker at an animal sanctuary. And at the time I was writing my first novel—in which a monkey figured prominently. So surprising my soon-to-be husband while wearing an ape suit wasn’t a completely oddball idea.
I could go into detail here about the challenges of sneaking onto a college campus in a gorilla suit without causing a scene, trying to see through the eye slits and not pass out from the heat inside the hairy costume, attracting a growing trail of curious students. I could tell you how sweaty my hands got inside the gorilla mitts and that the bottle of wine ultimately ended up slipping from my grasp and crashing on the sidewalk. Twenty feet from my sweetie’s classroom, I panicked, wondering if crashing his class in a wine-soaked gorilla costume could have an adverse affect on his continued employment. He wasn’t yet tenured, after all.
But the horse, so to speak, was out of the barn. I sprinted the last few yards and barreled into his Intro to Philosophy class, panting and gasping for breath. I had planned to sing a love song, but only managed to choke out a few words before falling to one knee and presenting him with a dozen roses.
He was dumbstruck. His students were clapping and laughing. The room quickly filled with students and professors who’d spilled out of other classrooms to see what was up. Everyone was asking, “Who’s the monkey?” But my husband later said he’d recognized me instantly even though all he could see were my eyes. He swept me into his arms and kissed me on my fake lips. And he dismissed his students for the rest of the period so we could go monkey around.
That was almost seven years ago and my husband still tells the story with a twinkle in his eye. In fact, when I told him I was writing today about what romance means to me, he told me to write about the gorilla suit. I scoffed at his suggestion, saying I planned to craft some creatively flowery prose about romance and the magical moments it inspires—fleeting glances, coy winks, fingertips lightly dancing across bare skin … that kind of thing.
I said all that with a straight face. He just looked at me and burst out laughing.
I was indignant for about a half second. Then I laughed, too.
Now that’s romance.
IMHO: What a wonderful story, Brenda. Funny and romantic. How about you folks? Have you ever done anything crazy (in a good way) in the name of love? Remember, to have a chance at the Big Basket of LOOOOVE, you'll need to comment on at least two authors' posts.