Friday, February 8, 2008

Pay Attention

by Cassondra Murray


I’m about to tell you a secret.

It’s the secret, I think, to why we fall in love with heroes, both fictional and real. I think it’s the secret to romance.

We’re approaching Valentine’s Day, and to illustrate the secret, I’m going to tell you about one of my best romantic gifts ever. It was from my husband, a few years after we were married. Now let me preface it by saying he’d made his share of blunders in previous years. There was the anniversary when he gave me a rug.

Yes, a rug.

Poor fellow. He’s learned a lot since then.

But this best year ever, he left me a note that asked if I would pick up something for him at an office downtown at 11:00 in the morning. I went. The receptionist handed me a wrapped box with my name on it.


Inside was a set of lingerie from Victoria’s Secret and a note that told me to go to a florist around the corner. The florist gave me a bouquet of gorgeous wildflowers and a note that told me to go to my chiropractor’s office. The chiropractor’s receptionist gave me another box with another gift and another note. That one sent me next door to the massage therapist for an hour-long massage.

V-day. The day that men dread. The one day of the year specifically dedicated to that thing most men find completely baffling—romance.

But if you think about it, romance, in all of its forms, boils down to one thing. When we’re dating and falling in love, this one thing comes naturally. Men do it with great focus, and to that focus, if there’s any chemistry at all, women respond with intense passion. It’s irresistible, you see, this one thing that is ultimately romantic.

I’ve already told you what it is.

The one thing guaranteed to bring about romance is….paying attention.

Once we’re in a committed relationship we tend to forget that. We begin, perhaps, to take one another for granted a bit. Or maybe we get too busy. Life gets in the way. Maybe we get lazy.



This next week, roses will go for three times the normal price because demand is so high. But honestly, is it really ROSES we want? I don’t think so, though they are lovely and wonderful to receive. It’s not chocolate either, though that never hurts. Jewelry isn’t a bad substitute, but that’s what it is—that's what they all are--substitutes. Tokens. Material attempts to say what we feel--or at least what we want to feel.

Paying attention is how we’ll know what to give to our beloved on the day set aside for romance. Paying attention is what will make the gift work, because really, the true gift--the gift only the loved one can give-- is the attention. The tokens we give—the dinner out, the evening in, the meal cooked and served—that’s the external indicator. It’s very telling that people run
around like mad at the last minute looking for something….ANYTHING….to give to their love for Valentine’s Day. Those people haven’t paid attention, and often the gift will be nice but will….well…it’ll ring just a tad hollow.

Because it’s the attention we crave. That undivided attention we got from our mate when we first discovered one another. That belief that we were truly interesting enough to arouse deep passion in another person. Having someone know us at a level far deeper than surface. To be known—to be seen—and to be loved and appreciated. That’s addictive. We want it, and we never stop wanting it.

I’ll remember that scavenger hunt forever because he cared enough to pay attention to what would make a wonderful day for me, when I hadn’t even asked for anything. Wasn’t expecting anything. It was stunning, and I was speechless.


Here's that ad again....the one I used in my Killer Kisses blog last fall. Really now, does this guy look like he's thinking about the football playoffs?



Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as turning off the tv. If you're a guy, the first time you kissed her, I’m betting you didn’t have one eye on CNN.


Ladies, The first time he kissed you, I bet you weren’t worried about who’d get off the island on Lost. The first time, I bet you were looking at, and thinking about, each other.

All those novels we Banditas write--and the ones we ALL devour as though they were the very air we breathe? Those heroes tend to be...well...focused...on the heroine. And I think part of the fix we get from the stories is living out the fantasy of having that undivided attention many of us haven't experienced since we were dating. Based on the entertainment men frequently choose, I have to wonder if part of the fix for them is also the fantasy of having someone who's not just hot, but hot specifically for them. Maybe, maybe not.

Could that be the secret to rekindling that first-time feeling? Remembering to really look at one another again, inside and out? Stopping long enough to pay attention?

So how about you, Bandita friends? What’s the most romantic thing someone’s done for you?

Have you done something incredibly romantic for someone else—something he or she LOVED?

What sets your senses tingling and captures your focus like nothing else?

What’s your idea of an incredibly romantic, but real-life, here-and-now possible date? And what about it makes it romantic? Is it the setting? Is it the person you’re with?

How do you recapture the romance in the craziness of modern life?

When was the last time you, or your significant other really, truly paid attention?


Is there a character in a novel that stops your heart and takes your breath because.....he's paying attention?

83 comments:

Helen said...

Yay he is back in Australia
Have Fun
Helen

Cassondra said...

Congrats Helen!

It's gotten cold here again. Hey, I'd rather be down there in the warm sunshine with y'all too.

Helen said...

What a beautiful post Cassondra and how true we really tend to take each other for granted and not pay attention to each others needs and wants I think back to the early days of our relationship and although we were young we only had eyes for each other and what would make each other happy and pleased. My hubby has never forgotten a birthday or anniversary or valentines day in the 36 yeras we have been together presents may have been small at times because we were struggling with 4 children on one wage but there was always something a card a box of chocolates even a small bunch of flowers out of the garden and I too have always given him something whether it be a fancy dinner at home and time alone or a gift. As we get older I find spending time alone with my husband is wonderful watching a movie together and having a nice home cooked meal is always good.
As for one of the hero's I have truly loved in the books I have read there are so many and I don't think I can choose one although Devil Cynster from Devil's Bride by Stepahnie Laurens comes to mind and Kylemore from CTC are probably my favourites.
Something special we did together was go away for the weekend to the Blue Mountains in NSW for our 25th wedding anniversary what a weekend fantastic.
Great post
Have Fun
Helen

Kirsten said...

Cassondra, this was an absolutely beautiful post. Really really lovely, dear. I'm just so impressed.

Yes, you're absolutely right. It's paying attention to each other that matters. For parents with young children, this is almost impossible. You simply don't finish sentences, pay attention to your spouse, or pay attention to yourself until they're about five. As Susan S. likes to say, she doesn't even get to go to the bathroom by herself, let alone pay attention to her husband.

So the best gift I ever gave my husband was arranging for us to spend a night together in a hotel. We don't have any in-laws in town, and our kids are still pretty young (seven and four at the time), so this isn't something we'd ever done before. But our dear friends offered to take the kids overnight, and I got the whole thing arranged without his knowing. It worked like a charm. And we had fourteen straight hours together. It was incredible. We gazed at each other over dinner, talked about things other than the kids, went for a walk...things we did BEFORE we had kids.

This reminds me...this year is our 10th anniversary. We both forgot our 9th. I think I'll have to get busy planning for that hotel room again...

And the best gift he ever got me? That's easy. He planned a surprise party to celebrate my book deal, and then FLEW SUSAN SEYFARTH across the country for the weekend to celebrate some more. Total surprise and it was so wonderful.

Thanks for reminding me what matters, Cassondra!!

Helen said...

Cassondra not sure about hot here at the moment it has been humid and very rainy I think we have had as much rain in the past couple of weeks as we got all year last year.
But we will have fun together there are Tim Tams and a couple of bottles of red wine.
BTW Christie's book arrived yesterday so we have some great reading to do
Have Fun
Helen

Cassondra said...

Helen said:

I think back to the early days of our relationship and although we were young we only had eyes for each other and what would make each other happy and pleased.

That's exactly it, Helen. I remember that so well. And how QUICKLY it vanished when we got married and had bills to pay and were struggling with all kinds of life stuff.

It sounds like you have managed to keep it going though. That's so wonderful to hear. Your story of falling in love young and still being in love is so inspiring!

And your trip to the Blue Mountains sounds wonderful. Sometimes getting out of town is exactly the thing it takes to switch gears.

Cassondra said...

Kirsten said:
And the best gift he ever got me? That's easy. He planned a surprise party to celebrate my book deal, and then FLEW SUSAN SEYFARTH across the country for the weekend to celebrate some more. Total surprise and it was so wonderful.

Yup, I'd say that one was worth some points girlfriend. You got yourself a keeper I'm thinkin.

And you know, some days I don't have time to take a shower and I have no children--well, none without fur. I honestly don't see how couples with young children survive.

Cassondra said...

Helen said:

But we will have fun together there are Tim Tams and a couple of bottles of red wine.
Helen, as far as I'm concerned, that's all it takes. Although I haven't had Tim Tams yet, I'm led to understand they are nectar and aphrodisiac in one.

BTW Christie's book arrived yesterday so we have some great reading to do

WOOOT! It's out in the Barnes & Noble here too. Four copies, face OUT right next to Sherrilyn Kenyon's books. On the top shelf too! Couldn't get much better placement than that. I finished Every Night I'm Yours last week. Love the hero. Yummm.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, great catch for the Aussies! Congratulations!

And hey, Kylemore is one of your faves. How cool is that?

Actually Cassondra really touched on something fundamental here. I think the greatest quality of a romantic hero is that he is so focused on the heroine. One of my favorite films is The Last of the Mohicans. Nathaniel is focused on Cora from the moment he meets her. He recognizes how important she is and he takes responsibility for that. Always just makes my heart stop!

Cassondra said...

Anna said:

One of my favorite films is The Last of the Mohicans. Nathaniel is focused on Cora from the moment he meets her. He recognizes how important she is and he takes responsibility for that. Always just makes my heart stop!

Mine too FoAnna. There are a few moments in films that replay over and over in my head even years later. One of them is that moment when they see one another for the first time.

And the thing that makes it so fundamental to all women I think is that it's impossible to ignore that level of focus. At least it's impossible for me, as a female, to ignore that kind of male attention focused specifically on me. And it seems to be universal for most women I know.

Christine Wells said...

Now that's just not right. How are the rest of us going to live up to that post? Fantastic, Cassondra. How did you get to be so wise? Your husband sounds like such a sweetie. Give him a big kiss from me.

Just a week or two ago I flew to Sydney for a romantic night with dh. Dressed up, swanky restaurant, hotel room, bliss! As for the flowers and chocs variety of romance, the biggest dirty rat of a boyfriend I ever had was great at the flamboyant romantic gift, so I don't particularly trust that style of romance. I like the specific thoughtful gesture, the one no one else would appreciate. As you say, that means paying attention.

Thanks, Cassondra. I hope your message is spread far and wide to the men of the world. And the women, too, I suppose:)

Woohoo, Helen! The Girls from Downunder nabbed the GR again.

flchen1 said...

Congrats, Helen! Pamper the ol' GR!

Cassondra, thank you for today's post! You really hit the nail on the head with it. The attentiveness is what I love about those perfect movie moments, the most well-written stories, the best dates and gifts I've received--it's the look in his eyes when he's telling you that you are it--you're his world.

Hmm... gotta go think about how to do that in some smaller ways :) Thanks again for the wonderful reminder! (And wow, your hubby did good that year!)

And Kirsten, yep, what an awesome DH!

Donna MacMeans said...

Wonderful post, Cassondra, and so very timely. I particularly enjoy a gift that suggests my husband took some time, thought it out, planned a little. I guess because that meant for that planning time, I was a priority. Now I know that when he stops to think about it, I'm always a priority in his life. But it's easy to set aside the important things in life to deal with the annoying fires that crop up in the day-to-day living. When I receive a gift that required some advance planning, I know he knows what's important.

Hmmm... best gift? Well, you know about the pink corset. That was a winner. He surprised me with our first ever cruise for our 30th anniversary. I remember on Valentine's Day when my daughter was a baby and he was in FLorida on business - I drove the baby 150 miles to my mother's house, then hopped a plane for Florida to surprise him at his hotel. That was memorable.

The kids are adults now and we do get to spend more time listening and talking to each other. Unfortunately, he'll be away on business again this Valentine's Day. Thanks for the reminder to do some advance planning to make this one a memorable V-Day as well.

Denise Rossetti said...

Cassondra, you've absolutely nailed it - paying attention, YES! And your husband is obviously a man of great insight and charm. Lucky, lucky you!

The best seduction technique in the whole world - total focus on the loved one. *sigh*

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, you are brilliant. Yes, attention is the key to a great relationship, at the beginning and all the way through. One thing marital therapists always focus on is how much time a couple spends together. Not doing stuff, but just talking and spending time together.

As Kirsten said, parents of young children have little time for this. But the impact lasts longer than early childhood. Once they can self-feed and self-bathe and more or less take care of themselves, their lives become full of activities (some the parents' doing and some the kids'). Then you both become taxi drivers, ATMs and social directors.

All that busyness often coincides with the time of life when each spouse realizes they have no hobbies or activities of their own. So they find one (or six)! It can be just as hard to find time together when the kids are older as when they are young. And, I must confess, there was a time when I so enjoyed "alone" time that I really wanted to be just that: all alone. No kids, no pets, no spouse. Just me.

Fortunately, that era has ended and my dh and I actively make time to spend together, especially when the still-at-home children are away. Hurrah for choir tours and handbell festivals and Girl Scout camp! *g*

As to romantic gifts, the one I remember most was a poem my husband wrote me for Valentine's Day. He is SO not the poetry type. I'm not sure he's written anything since then, either. But I knew he had worked and agonized over it just for me. It was incredibly sweet and thoughtful! (Um, he won't be winning a poetry prize, though. *g*)

Beth said...

Lovely post, Cassondra, and so true! I'm lucky - my husband is wonderful and always pays attention to me *g* Since we only had one income up until recently, we never did the big, fancy gifts. Instead we write each other letters for birthdays, Valentine's day and our anniversary. I save them all :-)

I love hearing about everyone's best gifts! Cassondra and Kirsten, your husbands are definitely keepers! What wonderful surprises *g*

doglady said...

Congrats on the GR Helen. He as obviously craving some sunshine and Tim Tams!

What a fantastic post Cassondra. Your hubby is definitely a keeper.

I have to agree that Anna C writes some fabulous, intensively focused heroes. Both Kylemore and Matthew have that "this is my woman" intensity. Another favorite of mine is Sebastian St. Vincent from Lisa Kleypas's Devil in Winter. The little things he did for her - kept the foot warmer filled in the carriage, ordered her mourning dresses in comfortable material, made sure she ate when she didn't want to - THAT'S paying attention. My kind of guy.

My late hubby was a letter writer. He always wrote me a letter on Valentine's Day. When I was in Austria/Germany and he was in Mississippi doing his internship he always took care to write about what my friends at USM were doing. He kept me up on their performances, the gossip because he knew they were important to me.

He also made sure I got roses after every performance - in the States where he came to the foot of the stage to present them himself and in Europe where they were delivered by stage hands.

Of course when we went shopping he always paid close attention to the books and other things I picked up and then passed on because of price. He kept this little notebook in his pocket to write things down.

I miss him every day. Now for Valentine's Day since his passing the older of my two younger brothers makes sure that I get flowers and a box of Godiva's chocolates every year. He does the same for my Mom who is also a widow. What can I say? We bring 'em up right down South!

Kate Carlisle said...

Cassondra, this post is so beautiful. I agree with everyone else, you are a brilliantly talented writer, and I am in awe!

Now if we could just get that rooster back...hmm. Guess we can't compete with Tim Tams and red wine. Have fun, Helen!

I can't remember the last time my husband and I took a day to just relax, talk, read, hang out, enjoy the moment. There's always something to do or fix or buy or worry about. A few years ago, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he said he wanted a whole day where he didn't have to make any decisions. How sad is that! I managed to give him that day, though. We drove up to wine country, no real agenda except to have fun and wander and enjoy the day. Believe me, we don't do that ever! He was so happy. He didn't even have to drive, which he really appreciated. We need to do that again. Soon.

And a hero that personifies today's subject? Roarke, of course. I love his total focus on Eve. So sexy!

Alice Audrey said...

The most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me was hike four miles through hilly woods to bring me something I'd left in the car. You're right - it was paying attention to what I wanted and then going the extra mile that made the difference.

Deb Marlowe said...

Wow, Cassondra--you said it all and then some! Lovely reminder of what romance is really all about.

I envy Beth and doglady their letter writing husbands! Mine wrote me a lovely poem one Christmas. I cried buckets. It was so sweet and heartfelt. He could do that every holiday and I would never get tired of it!

Really, Valentine's Day has gotten very easy! You walk in the grocery and are faced with a selection of roses, cards, food, even packets of rose petals. We try to spoil each other throughout the year, rather than go for the obvious.

Cassondra said...

Christine said:

As for the flowers and chocs variety of romance, the biggest dirty rat of a boyfriend I ever had was great at the flamboyant romantic gift, so I don't particularly trust that style of romance. I like the specific thoughtful gesture, the one no one else would appreciate. As you say, that means paying attention.

Hi Christine!

You're right. The flashy gesture can easily hide the not-so-dedicated heart, can't it? There's certainly nothing wrong with this, and it's fun to get, but the little things that say "I noticed this about you" are the ones that PROVE he's paying attention.

Love your night in Sydney.

Cassondra said...

flchen1 said:

it's the look in his eyes when he's telling you that you are it-

Yup. A lot of times just getting the time to actually LOOK at one another--that's hard. And you know what, if there's something going on--unfinished business between you--a fight or a disagreement, it's hard to just look at one another, isn't it? Does anybody else notice that? It's easy to go about being busy and ignore it and let it fester. If you LOOK at the other person you can see the hurt. Sometimes I wonder if that's why men don't want to look, really LOOK--because they don't want to deal with the difficult stuff.

But that focus--that "look"--that undivided attention is irresistible.

Cassondra said...

donna said:

it's easy to set aside the important things in life to deal with the annoying fires that crop up in the day-to-day living. When I receive a gift that required some advance planning, I know he knows what's important.

Donna I agree, and it's easy to let the littlest things become "important" isn't it? When in fact they're really not. I was a straight A student, but I remember blowing off classes and homework to spend time with a guy I had fallen for. When we're adults, we have things we can't "blow off"--child care and jobs and such--but I think sometimes we could shift our priorities a bit more than we often do.

Cassondra said...

Denise Rosetti said:

The best seduction technique in the whole world - total focus on the loved one. *sigh*

Yup. Nothing else works quite like that, does it?

I have to wonder if a lot of disillusionment in marriages comes when people STOP doing this. I can't say exactly why it happens. I understand that people get busy, but when we're young and in love, we find ways to focus on the loved one even when we're busy with something else.

I have to wonder what happens as we grow older. Hmmmm...

That IS what makes seduction work though, isn't it?

Cassondra said...

Oops Denise, misspelled your last name. Apologies. The fountain of life has bubbled its liquid but it hasn't hit my bloodstream yet, late-rising vampire that I am....

Eva S said...

Thanks Cassondra for such a great post! What a wonderful scavenger hunt!

The most romantic thing my husband has done for me was last Monday, it was my birthday and although he had been away for a while on a business trip, I had behind my door a huge bouquet of roses ( 50!) with a wonderful card "Hugs, I miss you, with love!"And he couldn't understand why I cried on the phone...Men!! He even phoned our daughter afterwards to check that everything was ok!It wasn't the roses...

I so agree with Helen, it's a wonderful time now when the kids are grown up and we have more time for each other..
And congrats!

Cassondra said...

Caren said:

As Kirsten said, parents of young children have little time for this. But the impact lasts longer than early childhood.

It does! I'm not a parent, but I see it all around me. Kids are so busy now--not a moment left free to just "be" and parents are required to facilitate all this activity! AAAAHHHHHH! I don't see how you do it.

At some point, I wonder if it becomes habit to not pay attention, and maybe a lot of couples forget how? I think it's great that you and your husband are making an effort to find time for one another now. I see a lot of couples, once their kids have gone, that are two people living together and that's about it.

There must be some way to keep that kindled even during the kid years. I don't have the answer, but I want there to be one. (grin)

Cassondra said...

Beth said:

Since we only had one income up until recently, we never did the big, fancy gifts. Instead we write each other letters for birthdays, Valentine's day and our anniversary.

Beth, I think these are the best gifts of all. They force you to focus on the other person and what you love about him/her.

That's actually harder, in my opinion, than going out and spending a gob of money. And it means more in a lot of instances. The wallet will never be the heart after all.

Cassondra said...

doglady said:

I have to agree that Anna C writes some fabulous, intensively focused heroes. Both Kylemore and Matthew have that "this is my woman" intensity.

Doesn't she though! I think that's why we love them so much. We want that. Certainly not to be kidnapped, but that focus is irresistible.

And Doglady, every time you talk about your husband I tear up. What a wonderful man you had. Keeping a little notebook of what he saw that you wanted...THAT is paying attention.

Cassondra said...

Kate said:

A few years ago, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he said he wanted a whole day where he didn't have to make any decisions. How sad is that! I managed to give him that day, though.

Kate, I've said this EXACT thing. I've also said, "a whole day where I don't have to be anywhere or HAVE to DO anything. A day to do what I want." It's epidemic, this busy-ness.

How cool that you were able to give him that day!

I can't remember the last time my husband and I took a day to just relax, talk, read, hang out, enjoy the moment. There's always something to do or fix or buy or worry about.

There is for us too! We live in a 158-year-old house under perpetual restoration, so it never ends. I've been wanting, lately, to go to an aquarium. There nearest big one is Chatanooga which is quite a little drive, but I desperately want to say "oh, hang it," and just GO. Just fill up the gas tank and GO. Disappear and not answer the cell phone.

Cassondra said...

Alice audrey said:

The most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me was hike four miles through hilly woods to bring me something I'd left in the car.

Oh, Alice! There's more to this story. I can tell there's a good tale behind this tidbit. Will you tell? That IS romantic.

Cassondra said...

Deb Marlowe said:
Mine wrote me a lovely poem one Christmas. I cried buckets. It was so sweet and heartfelt. He could do that every holiday and I would never get tired of it!

Oh, Deb, me too! My husband is actually quite a gifted writer, though he doesn't do much of it--especially poetry. But when he decides to write poetry it's phenomenal. He's written me two or three poems over 20 years. I consider them my most treasured gifts.

jo robertson said...

Wow, Helen, you broke the AC spell! Congrats.

Tender post, Cassondra, and so true. There's nothing else quite like being in love for the first time.

For me, the best gifts have always been the ones that lightened my load -- getting up with the baby at night even though I was breastfeeding, cleaning the house , running errands.

Recently, I'd gotten up several mornings early (5:15 a.m) to help out my single-parent son get his kids off to school and Boyd took over for me so I could sleep in.

You're right. It's NEVER about the gift -- it's always about the actions.

Cassondra said...

eva said:

it was my birthday and although he had been away for a while on a business trip, I had behind my door a huge bouquet of roses ( 50!) with a wonderful card "Hugs, I miss you, with love!"And he couldn't understand why I cried on the phone...Men!!

Haha! They DON'T get it, do they?

And Happy Birthday, even though it's a bit late!

Cassondra said...

JoMama said:

For me, the best gifts have always been the ones that lightened my load -- getting up with the baby at night even though I was breastfeeding, cleaning the house , running errands.

Well.....with your having reared SEVEN children, could this come as a surprise to us? No, I don't think so. Your honey is a hottie and a sweetie too. Can't beat that combo.

terrio said...

Man, talk about hitting the nail on the head. This is EXACTLY what I've tried to explain to people in the past. And it doesn't have to be Valentine's Day or in regards to a significant other. This past Christmas I was disappointed in what I received from my parents for this exact reason. What they bought had absolutely nothing to do with me. *sigh* But they tried and I love them.

This would explain why we need to keep our h/h in close proximity. Keeping the focus on the other person. Really letting them get to know each other even if reluctantly. I hadn't thought of it that way but makes total sense. Yet another Aha! moment found at the Lair.

If...err...when I ever publish, y'all have to be in the thank you section.

Congrats on the GR, Helen. That's one tough bird for all his globetrotting.

Michelle said...

This is so true! That's exactly what tends to fall by the wayside in lone term relationships, particularly when you have children and the focus invariably shifts to them...as it should, but still, you lose that one on one intensity that initially began the relationship. With an almost-two year old, my husband and I have definitely let the romance slip, but now I feel inspired to do something special for Valentine's day...

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, thanks, C and Doglady. I must say that focus is something my guys have in spades! There's no shilly-shallying once they meet the girl of their dreams. That just seems to be part of their character - perhaps to me because that focus is just the sexiest thing ;-) So Cassondra, I was absolutely 100% with you on this blog!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hmmm...very thought provoking post, Cassondra. And I do think you're right. It's the undivided attention we want from our significant other, our hero.

The most romantic thing my dh did. Well, when he was in school to finish his degree we were poor. Three teenagers, husband in school on student loans and me bringing in a nurse's salary. Yep, some weeks we weren't sure how to feed the kids. One week I hocked my wedding band and diamond earrings to buy groceries.

Two years later, when we'd moved to Texas and had two incomes, my dh went to the jewelers, bought me a gorgeous wedding band and engagement ring set, (I'd never had an engagement ring before), for Christmas.

After all the gifts were opened, he got down on one knee in front of our three kids and popped out this black velvet box and asked me if I'd stay married to him!

Yep, major hero points there!!

Cassondra said...

terrio said:
This past Christmas I was disappointed in what I received from my parents for this exact reason. What they bought had absolutely nothing to do with me. *sigh* But they tried and I love them.

Yeah, parents are often the worst this way. And grandparents. It's like they refuse to accept that you aren't as they see you or something. Imagine that (grin).

One memorable Christmas when I was fifteen I got a package of underwear from my grandmother. It was children's underwear...it would have fit me when I was seven or eight. I looked at it and said, "Oh, thank you." It took me, at that age, a few days to figure out what had happened. She still saw me as a little girl and bought accordingly.;0)

And we'll be waiting for your debut release--with thanks to the rowdy bunch in the lair. When. Not if.

Cassondra said...

Michelle said:

With an almost-two year old, my husband and I have definitely let the romance slip, but now I feel inspired to do something special for Valentine's day...

You GO girl! Let us know how it turns out!

Cassondra said...

Anna C said:

perhaps to me because that focus is just the sexiest thing

Yup. No contest. All the flowers in the world won't make the magic happen if the focus is not there.

I honestly don't know how Daniel Day Lewis pulled that off in the film, Fo. He looks at her with such intensity, and you KNOW. You just KNOW. That's a hell of an acting job IMO. I've never seen another actor do that "look" better.

Cassondra said...

Suz said:

After all the gifts were opened, he got down on one knee in front of our three kids and popped out this black velvet box and asked me if I'd stay married to him!

Oh, Suz, this made my heart pound! What a guy! And you know, it's the stuff that they don't HAVE to do that means the most.

Did that not just break your heart, hocking your wedding band? You did what you had to do to feed your family, no question. But that made his gift so much more meaningful--he recognized your sacrifice from two years before.

FilmPhan said...

I think it's romantic when the guy you love just grabs you and kisses you. Like if you are mad at him or something but you still want him and then he just goes in for an amazing kiss. How can you stay mad after that? Two great examples of this type of kiss are both done by James McAvoy in "Atonement" and then in "Becoming Jane" (both wonderful movies by the way). In the first one, I'm talking about his and Keira's first kiss in the library. In the latter, there is a scene where Jane is frying mad at him and he kisses her. There is something so sexy about it.

Anna Sugden said...

Awww *sniff* what a lovely post, Cassondra. As ever, you neailed it.

I'm so lucky in that my hubby always gives me the most thoughtful gifts. Big or small, he always does it right. Whether it's a game-worn jersey from my favourite hockey player or a pic of a red gerbera daisy (my fave flower) from the airport lounge while he's travelling ... and everything in-between ... He's the best.

This year, for Christmas, he made me a calendar using pictures of the two cats we lost last year and our two new babies. *sigh*.

The hero that stands out for me like that is Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail. I love the scene where he beings Meg Ryan daisies.

Anna Sugden said...

Oh and I think Colin Firth has the perfect hero's focussed look in both P&P (the scene where she's turning the pages for his sister at the piano) and in Bridget Jones (when they're making blue soup!)

Cassondra said...

filmphan said:

I think it's romantic when the guy you love just grabs you and kisses you.

Yup. I agree.

Now I have a story about that kissing you when you're mad. My husband used to do this. I'd be trying to talk to him about something important to me--some disagreement we were having--trying to work through it, and right while I was talking he'd just kiss me right on the mouth. It took me a couple of years to figure out what he was doing. He was shutting me up. I don't think he even realized it, but nothing ever got worked through and I nailed him on it and he quit doing that. It wasn't any passionate kiss or anything. Just a peck on the mouth that would stop the conversation.

I still get mad thinking about it. But that's not the same thing. When the hero and heroine are arguing over nothing and fuming...that can make for some high emotions there..and yes, it can be very sexy.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Cassondra--
I just can't resist your blogs. I'm totally buried in life right now, have barely been able to come up for air for weeks, & I read your blogs & have to squeeze out the time to write a comment! It's a tribute to your talent!

As for sweeping, romantic gestures, well, I don't know. Like Kirsten, we have little ones (4 & 1) so sometimes I have squint & think really hard before I remember what romance even is. But my husband did buy me a laptop for my birthday a couple years ago. As you all know, I'm chronically unpublished, so I try not to spend a great deal of money on my writing. I always figured I'd be fine on the big lumbering beast of a desktop we share until I actually sold a book & could buy a laptop with my earnings. But my husband, who has always considered my writing a legitimate career whether I'm making any money or not surprised me with a laptop, which is WAY out of the usual birthday budget. He just said I deserved it.

He was paying attention. He knew a laptop was my heart's desire, but nothing I thought I'd earned or deserved. He felt differently & took the matter out of my hands. I loved that as much, if not more, than the laptop.

Susan

p.s. Isn't Kirsten's husband a sweetie, too? When he called to see if I could come for Kirsten's first sale celebration *I* almost cried.

Cassondra said...

Anna Sugden said:

I'm so lucky in that my hubby always gives me the most thoughtful gifts. Big or small, he always does it right.

Anna you have such a keeper!

And I haven't seen "You've Got Mail" so I'll have to go immediately and rent that one.

Do you suppose Austen was the first to capture that "focus" and perhaps that's why we consider her to be, in many ways, the founder of the genre--this is arguable of course--and rightly so--but her works are timeless. Was she the first to grab this fundamental part of what draws us in?

It's there in the writing too I notice--it's part of what she "did" as a writer...it's not just the actors on screen who make it so. And I'm not aware of another writer who did that before her. Am I forgetting someone?

Cassondra said...

Susan said:

He was paying attention. He knew a laptop was my heart's desire, but nothing I thought I'd earned or deserved. He felt differently & took the matter out of my hands. I loved that as much, if not more, than the laptop.

*Deep sigh*

Yup. That's it. Right there. *Deep sigh*

There are a few good men left.

And thanks for saying such nice things about my blogs Smoov. And THANK YOU for taking time to comment when I know you're barely treading water.

p226 said...

I wasn't going to comment on this entry, well, because V-day just isn't my thing. Trust me. Mushy stuff makes me want to crank old school Slayer on the cd player and mentally follow Kerry King's light-speed raging guitar riffs. And V-day is all about mushy stuff. *shudder*

But something in the comments caught my attention.

flchen1 said:
it's the look in his eyes when he's telling you that you are it

The cinematic portrayal of that moment does not jive with reality, in my admittedly uninformed opinion. Especially the first time it's said. For a guy, especially a guy like me whose skin tends to crawl at the thought of mushy stuff, it's a very different thing. It's not the equivalent of thumping your chest and yelling "*I* am Sparticus!" No, it's much different. And what's never portrayed appropriately in books, in film, anywhere I've seen, is that such a proclamation carries a weight of fear. That's the one emotion always missing. There is exposure in that statement if there's any sincerity behind it.

No one ever mentions that. No one every accurately portrays it on the screen. Not that I've seen, anyway.

FWIW and all that. I'm certainly no expert on this subject.

p226 said...

And, as an afterthought... Damnit, Cassondra....

I've gotta get better at paying attention.

You're such a master at pointing this stuff out.

*grumble*

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

And what's never portrayed appropriately in books, in film, anywhere I've seen, is that such a proclamation carries a weight of fear. That's the one emotion always missing. There is exposure in that statement if there's any sincerity behind it.

It's not missing from romance. In fact, much of the book is often built around the fear of saying those words, and of exposing the self in that way. It's the facing of that fear--the coming to the knowledge that the emotion is even there, and then the dangerous admission of the truth of it--that is the very spine of the romance novel.

That's why we read them. The more skillfull the writer, the more accurately he or she portrays this fear, and the characters' choices of how to face it and deal with it.

The vast majority of our books are based on precisely this turning point.

Cassondra said...

226 said:

And, as an afterthought... Damnit, Cassondra....

I've gotta get better at paying attention.

You're such a master at pointing this stuff out.

*grumble*


I ain't apologizin. *grin*

p226 said...

The vast majority of our books are based on precisely this turning point.

Well then... you learn something new every day!

Cassondra said...

P226 said:


Well then... you learn something new every day!


Keep hanging around the lair and there's no telling WHAT you might learn. We as a group have recently been called "rowdy" in sundry places around the internet. However would they get THAT idea?

flchen1 said...

p226, I agree that what's portrayed in the movies doesn't always reflect most people realities, but then again, I think that sometimes movies aren't so much a mirror as one person's vision of an ideal. In this case, I don't recall being on the receiving end of such a look with a declaration of feelings, but were one to come even now, I would be thrilled to bits. :) FWIW, and of course, YMMV ;p

Cassondra said...

Based on the discussion about proclamations and such:

I think it's important to notice that in The Last of The Mohicans, as far as I remember, DDL never actually proclaims anything to the heroine. He looks at her, and he remains focused on her through the film, and it's clear that the feelings are mutual and he simply goes about being who he is. At that point, who he was included rescuing the heroine in the course of the story.

So there was no proclamation. It was the paying attention that drew the heroine to him, and the continued focus and attention--even though there were all sorts of other things happening around them--that held her there.

I believe THIS is the reality,and that's what I was aiming for in my blog. The point is that when you pay attention, the small acts or the large ones are so pointed and well-placed that they get the message across.

That doesn't mean we don't need to actually gather our courage and TELL the other person how we feel, but it's the paying attention that makes it matter. A man can stand there and tell me he loves me and I won't believe it for a minute if his actions don't follow suit.

I don't actually think paying attention is mushy at all. And I think Valentine's day is a reminder to pay attention--not to get mushy, though that's what the commercial V-day vendors have made of it.

I don't particularly enjoy mushy, and especially when it's not backed up by actions, or when it's meant to replace what should have been done in the first place. Those kinds of things leave me cold. Like the last-minute box of candy bought because someone forgot, and because it's that day and you're "supposed" to.

Paying attention is an entirely different thing and takes a relationship to an entirely different level, for me at least.

flchen1 said...

Thanks, Cassondra--that's what I mean :) That's why you're a writer, and I'm a reader :)

Cassondra said...

Actually flchen, I thought you said it quite well.

Who wouldn't be thrilled with that look and being told that somebody cares more for you than any other person in the world?

Well, as long as he's not a stalker, ya know? ;0)

Anna Campbell said...

Awww, all these stories are making me all mushy! Beware, P226!

Cassondra, another scene that has that focus is the end of North and South (warning, Richard Armitage fangirl moment coming up). He looks at her like she's the whole world just wrapped up in one gorgeous package. I don't think he declares his feelings in words either then (although he does earlier and gets humiliated for his courage, poor darling). But his eyes, the expression on his face, the reverent way he touches her? Oh, yeah, that tells everything!

P226, I think the fear is inbuilt in every single romance novel I've ever read. That's part of the enduring appeal of the genre - that bit is so true! Cassondra, well said!

Cassondra said...

Anna said:

Cassondra, another scene that has that focus is the end of North and South

*heavy sigh*

Another one I haven't seen (ducks the flying fruit). I know, I know. I've got to make time to see these.

I think the fear is inbuilt in every single romance novel I've ever read. That's part of the enduring appeal of the genre

Do you suppose it's because if it's easy, it doesn't mean as much? If you have to face down the real inner demons to get what you want, it's clear that what you want is important.

And I think by the time the characters have gone through the torture we put them through, and actually come to the point of saying it, it's an all-or-nothing thing. There's nothing else left but to say it or, metaphorically, die.

Suzanne Welsh said...

I think it's important to notice that in The Last of The Mohicans, as far as I remember, DDL never actually proclaims anything to the heroine. He looks at her, and he remains focused on her through the film, and it's clear that the feelings are mutual and he simply goes about being who he is. At that point, who he was included rescuing the heroine in the course of the story.

C, he does tell her "No matter what happens, stay alive....and I'll find you!"

Big sigh here in Big D

Keira Soleore said...

Cassondra, I adored your blog from that first golden picture down to the last word. Fab-fab writing!

If you think a rug is the worst gift, consider a mixer/blender. Oh yes.

OMG!!! I'm in love with your husband. Wanna trade? (just for the next couple weeks or so)

Here's the story of the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me. story

Most romantic date? At the beach on a sunny day in deep conversation with ideas flowing and lots of laughter.

Best Kiss: The last two scenes of North and South with Richard da man Armitage.

Jeanne: I just finished listening your National 2007 workshop. I adored it! Absolutely adored it. My office is a huge mess. I keep doing incremental changes, but really, it needs a complete rehaul.

Cassondra said...

Suz said:

C, he does tell her "No matter what happens, stay alive....and I'll find you!"

Yes, he does. Underneath the waterfall--"no matter where they take you, I'll find you..."

BUT that's not the big THREE WORDS ya know?

As far as I remember, he never says those words in the film.

Cassondra said...

Keira said:

OMG!!! I'm in love with your husband. Wanna trade? (just for the next couple weeks or so)

Well, he's been sick and real whiney lately. I'm not so sure that'd be a good trade for you at the moment.

And based on that STORY you told, I'm thinkin it might be a trade up for me. We have our high points and low points, same as everybody else. Lately when I'm picking his clothes up off the floor, there've been a few murderous thoughts....

Cassondra said...

Oh, and Keira, considering the mixer...if it was one of those hot red $300 Kitchen aid numbers....I might be won over...(grin)

Suzanne Welsh said...

C- No, he doesn't but then would any woman if he told her that in such an intense way? She got the message...Loud and Clear! hehehe...so did I!

Cassondra said...

Suz said:

C- No, he doesn't but then would any woman if he told her that in such an intense way? She got the message...Loud and Clear! hehehe...so did I!

Yeah, me too Suz. And I think that says a lot. There wasn't any doubt because he was so forthright and so focused on her. No hem-hawing around about it. His actions spoke for his intentions. Clearly. And there was no.."wow, you've got a hot sister" going on either.

I think that's part of the point. You don't have to be Shakespeare if you pay attention to what's needed at the time and rise to the occasion.

Keira Soleore said...

(hastily) Thanks for your super offer, Cassondra, but I might have to rethink my offer to trade. :)

Yep, it was one of those super gadgety numbers. BTW, that wasn't my story, it was Sophia Nash's. As for me, a jar of Nutella and an hour of conversation (see, I don't come cheap, an hour's an hour's an hour) will win me over faster than any gadgets, rocks, what-have-yous.

p226 said...

His actions spoke for his intentions.

THAT, is the way I try to be. Probably the way most of us try to be. I think we usually fail.

*g*

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

THAT, is the way I try to be. Probably the way most of us try to be. I think we usually fail.

*g*


Well, there was another sentence after that one that said "clearly" and I think that's the part a lot of guys miss. You know, buying the wife a power tool he really wants for her birthday.....ahem...yeah..stuff like that. (grin)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

*Mushy* is for mud and peas. Bleech. Romantic? THAT's good. Cassondra, what a wonderful post!! You're always so insightful.

I LOVE Mohicans. In fact the soundtrack went with me to Labor and Delivery on my first child...the nurses got REALLY tired of it. (It was a long, stormy night.) Originally, I saw LOTMohicans b/c it's filmed near my adopted hometown of Asheville, NC and my brother's an extra. I read the book - didn't like it - so I wasn't that hopeful for the movie. *sigh* OMGoodness.

Cassondra and P226, I'm so with you on that "actions speak louder" thing. It's my barometer. When my DH proposed, he set up the most amazing dinner, night out Event I could have ever wanted, including a gorgeous suite in a hotel and he even remembered to bring us both a change of clothes AND my contact lens case! His actions spoke VERY loudly of his care and committment. They still do.

You DID nail it, Cassondra, it's all about attention. I love that I still have his attention, and I try to be sure to give him mine, even wth the kids. :> I think he would say the best thing I did for him was on one of those "0" birthdays. I pulled off two major surprises, including a trip to Chicago with great Cubs tickets, and some of that precious alone time someone mentioned. He's STILL talking about it two years later. Grins.

Kiera, so glad you liked the class! Even incremental changes in your space help, so go for it!

Oh, and FWIW, I love power tools, so if my DH gets me a Home Depot gift certificate, I'm in heaven. Snork. Then again, he does pretty good with jewelry too - or did before the college funds became the priority! (I still get power tools, though! Grins)

Cassondra said...

Jeanne said:

Oh, and FWIW, I love power tools, so if my DH gets me a Home Depot gift certificate, I'm in heaven. Snork. Then again, he does pretty good with jewelry too - or did before the college funds became the priority! (I still get power tools, though! Grins)

Me too, Jeanne. I love them. I have a bunch of my own. But there are those guys, you know the ones, who buy HER what HE wants....?????

(insert the "no-no, bad boy" emoticon here.)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, man, where is that emoticon? I want one. :>

I'm really lucky that my guy's never bought me a tool or "thing" that really, he wanted.

p226 said...

Now, I just want to make something clear here. When I used the term "mushy" I was describing Valentine's day, not Cassondra's post. I'd hope that was obvious, but I just want to be crystal clear. Because, as usual, she has this uncanny ability to make neanderthals like me look inward and go, "doh!" Mush wouldn't have that effect on me. I would've surfed on to Dilbert by the first paragraph.

Alice Audrey said...

Yeah, actually, there's a lot more to the story, but I'm not at liberty to talk about it. I will say that the object retrieved was a drum - not a comfortable thing to carry - and that I had been on the verge of breaking up with him when he did it. What's more is I ran into him on the trail head with it in hand when I started out to get it myself. Also I'll add that I married him.

As to powertools - I get all mine from my mother. Dh has no interest in them.

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, C, you put things so beautifully. You're right about the fact that these characters reach a point where they have to express their feelings or that's it! And hey, do yourself a favour and get out N&S. You won't be sorry, girlfriend ;-)

Esri Rose said...

Boy, you are so right. It is about paying attention.

Angel Joe once gave me a microwave for a present. I think that's right up there with your rug.

He did well, though, by taking me on a surprise trip for my birthday. He wouldn't tell me where it was, and from the stuff he put in the trunk, I thought we might be going camping in Utah. Then we took the highway exit to the airport, and he told the driver we wanted Mexicana airport. I had never been out of the country and didn't have a passport. Joe had contacted my parents and had them mail my birth certificate (this was a long time ago). He was paying pretty good attention that time, I have to say.

Terri said...

Great post! I loved this and plan on having my husband read it. It is amazing how we do forget the romance in our lives. It was so easy when we were dating but it just vanishes. We know it is there but it just needs to be brought back to life.

Cassondra said...

Esri said:

I had never been out of the country and didn't have a passport. Joe had contacted my parents and had them mail my birth certificate (this was a long time ago). He was paying pretty good attention that time, I have to say.

Yes he was! Wow. That's a tough one to pull off--a trip out of town. Did he pack your makeup and all that stuff too? There is no WAY my husband could pack for me. I'd have thirty pairs of socks and no underwear. I'd end up wearing his clothes. (grin)

And yes, I have to admit. Your microwave does rate right up there with my rug. Although, it wasn't a particularly pretty rug....

Cassondra said...

Terri said:

It was so easy when we were dating but it just vanishes. We know it is there but it just needs to be brought back to life

Yup. Not always easy though. Like Caren and Susan said, when you have little ones especially. They take about 150 percent of your energy!

Hey though, you guys did great with your cruise! I saw the pics and it looked wonderful!

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

Now, I just want to make something clear here. When I used the term "mushy" I was describing Valentine's day, not Cassondra's post.

LOL! Yeah, we knew that. (grin)