78. Love: A Novel Approach

78. Love: A Novel Approach

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

Love: A Novel Approach

You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love;
the running across fields into your lover’s arms can only come later when you’re sure they won’t laugh if you trip.

~Jonathan Carroll, “Outside the Dog Museum”

It was reading romance novels that let me know — my relationship with David is fizzling rather than sizzling. David is sweet, sensitive and reliable, but he’s also becoming way too rational for my taste. He folds his underwear before climbing into bed, sits in an easy chair instead of snuggled next to me on the sofa and is too busy doing yardwork to slip away for an afternoon tryst. I decide to be brave and find out how bad things really are.

“Darling,” I say to David, as I hand him a dish of chopped onions for the stir-fry he is making, “do you ever have to suppress a sexually charged groan when you step close to me?”

“Huh?” he asks.

“Does the passion rise so fiercely that you have to groan to keep yourself from tearing off all my clothes and ravishing me?”

“No,” he says and adds broccoli to the frying pan.

My worst fears are confirmed. In the romances, the handsome heroes frequently have to suppress passionate groans. And that’s just from being in the same room with the long-legged, tousle-haired, full-bosomed heroine.

While David and I eat dinner, he tells me about his out-of-town client from Nebraska. I’m discouraged to note he does not suddenly shove away his half-eaten dinner and impetuously pull me toward him for a rousing embrace. In fact, he goes back for seconds.

“Do you ever longingly look at the hollows of my knees?” I ask, as we clear the dishes.

“No,” he says. “But I did notice you seem to be biting your fingernails again.” He smiles as if this observation should win him a sensitivity award.

“How come you never cry out my name in a hoarse, impassioned whisper?” I ask.

“You mean like this?” He lowers his voice and hisses “Deborah” like he is a spy about to be caught.

“Well, with more of a sense of sexual urgency,” I coach.

He pants a couple times, flexes his jaw muscles and says my name like a steam engine with laryngitis.

In the books, the guys emit these throaty unrequited whispers all the time. What’s wrong with David? Why is he causing me to miss out on love as it’s truly supposed to be?

Maybe David needs a little more assistance in transforming himself into my romantic ideal. Accordingly, I make a list of gestures that will enhance and strengthen our relationship.

At dinner the next evening, I read David the list:


1. Gaze longingly at me.

2. Crush me in your impassioned embrace.

3. Watch me hungrily when I enter a room.

4. Push back my tousled hair and smile into my eyes.

5. Groan with the impossible task of suppressing your surging sexual urges for even a second more.


David frowns. “I thought we had a great sexual relationship,” he says. “I thought you were happy.”

“I am,” I tell him, “but more romance will deepen our relationship.”

He stares at me with a stricken look.

“What’s wrong?” I say, as the silence stiffens.

He keeps looking, his mouth turned down, his eyes in pools of agony.

“David,” I put my hand on his. “Darling, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he says blithely, “I’m staring longingly at you.” And he continues his mournful gaze. I feel as though a basset hound has developed a huge crush on me.

He follows me into the kitchen and lurks about as I clean up the dishes. Suddenly he seizes my arms, pulls me to him and envelops me in a huge bear hug. I can barely breathe.

“You’re crushing me,” I tell him, pulling loose.

“Exactly. Isn’t that what you’ve been yearning for?”

I don’t know whether to kiss him or kick him.

The next day, I worry that my romantic ideas are being misconstrued. Maybe I should start with something simpler, like a loving missive tucked under my pillow or slipped into my briefcase.

I intend to discuss the nature of such a missive at dinner, but David stops me by plunking down a pile of paperbacks on the table.

“I’ve been doing some reading,” he says. “How come your nipples never strain against the gauzy fabric of your enticing summer frock? How come you never moan out my name and bite your full, fleshy lower lip in a beguiling profusion of confused sensuality? Why don’t you shudder with ecstasy at my merest touch? What is it with you — don’t you love me anymore?”

He reaches out to me. I do feel a little row of goose bumps when he touches my arm. Not quite enough for a full-blown shudder but plenty for a gentle little shiver.

I look at David and smile. I pick up one of the books and open it toward the end, wanting to get to the “good” part. David begins to read and I move closer, hanging on to him and his every word. Neither one of us can wait to see what will happen next.


~Deborah Shouse
Chicken Soup to Inspire a Woman’s Soul

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