Romance on the Street, at the Mall, on the Beach

Where’s the best place for romance? Some would say “anywhere,” but romantic moments deserve romantic places, don’t they?

If you cut to the chase — or go even further to when the chase is over — the best place for romance is probably a hotel. At least, it’s certainly the most practical.

In my featured image (above) the hotel is not far away. However, this couple’s romantic moment is most likely a farewell embrace at the end of a holiday, rather than the start of something new.

Sex is a zillion years older than romance. Although I suspect human beings have always offered enticements to each other (which could be construed as a form of romance) what we think of as “romantic” behaviour is probably the legacy of courtly love from the Middle Ages. What a rigmarole that was!

A Long Tale
At university I was obliged to read “The Romance of the Rose” — the complex allegory written by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun in the thirteenth century. In the event, I quite enjoyed it. It narrates the various attempts of a courtier, The Lover, to woo the target of his affections, the Lady — or, as the poem would have it, The Rose.

I shouldn’t tell you how it all ends, but the Lover must overcome many obstacles along the way, eventually to be rewarded by a single Kiss at the end of part one. In the second part, which is four times as long as the first, Jealousy imprisons the object of The Lover’s affections. There seems to be no limit to the frustrations this causes, but they are eventually defeated with the help of carnal love, represented by Venus. She sets fire to Jealousy’s castle, allowing the Lover — at last — to pluck The Rose.

Courtly love did not always culminate in consummation. It was essentially a game in which a knight performed arduous tasks to win the love of a noble lady, who, in all likelihood, was already wedded to someone else. Originating around the time of the First Crusade — when many noblemen were in danger of being killed in battle — the practice of courtly love was an excellent way for less wealthy, stay-at-home knights to advance their status.

One Thing Leads to Another
In the culture of the west, courtly love was the precursor of the kind of romantic love which took over when arranged marriages went out of fashion. For a while, lengthy wooing became almost obligatory. Thank heavens for the Sixties and Rock ‘n Roll!

Today, people negotiate a minefield of mixed expectations and cultural practices when they embark on new relationships. Fortunately, Venus is never far away and always ready to lend a hand with some heavy artillery.

Now, here’s a thought. Is it possible that Venus herself is being defeated by our modern obsession with mobile phones? If there had been mobile phones at the time of the Crusades, noble ladies would have been constantly chatting with their husbands in the Holy Land, much to the distress of the poor knights who were trying to woo them.

Woman talking to man on her mobile phone

The conference call in my picture (above) doesn’t look very romantic, but who knows?

By contrast, here’s an image (below) which certainly does seem romantic: a young couple by the water’s edge on a perfect day. Oh no, they’re checking something on a mobile phone! At least it seems to bring them together rather than keep them apart.

Couple by water's edge

Maybe it’s best to dispense with courtly love and mobile phones altogether and just enjoy the sunset in close proximity.

When the sun is sinking and you’re paying your debt to romance, Venus waits — none too patiently — back at the hotel.

Couple on the beach, watching sunset

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