Where's the love? Are women outgrowing romance?

we were moving from Hawaii to Florida in two weeks and my mother didn't want me to become "too attached." Not that I hadn't been falling for him for the last two years or anything.

I think encountering such mind-blowing romantic ideals in middle school has inevitably set the tone for my expectations of the portrayal of romance. My high school boyfriend, a budding graphic artist I also dated throughout college, would often create Photoshop works of art on his computer, portraying the two of us as Jasmine and Aladdin, Phantom of the Opera and his Christine, and Aragorn and Arwen among other character couples, always drawing beautiful framed sketches of the two of us that I saved long after we broke up.

I am not a picky person and I think the little things shared between two people are special, too. It doesn't have to be big and flashy to make me --- or any other woman --- feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but I also know when to appreciate bigger romantic gestures.

And then I saw an episode of Sex and the City called "The Ick Factor." Lately I've developed a habit of staying up till 2 a.m. watching old re-runs of Sex and the City on TBS. I used to work nights when the show was originally on, so it's a nice way to catch up with the girls every now and then. I was sitting on my couch, noshing on some red licorice when I saw this scene from "The Ick Factor":

The scene begins as Carrie Bradshaw's current muse, Aleksandr Petrovsky (played by Mikhail Baryshnikov) is playing a beautiful song on his piano. He gestures for Carrie to sit by his side and tells her it is a little song he's just composed for her, French title and all. They kiss --- how could you not after hearing something like that?

Next we see Carrie and her friends --- Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha --- sitting around the table, openly mocking her boyfriend's actions and talking about how cheesy the whole idea is. They are almost offended by it. Carrie even says she's embarrassed and can barely reveal the translation of the song's title, "The Woman with Eyes that Sparkle."


I stopped eating my licorice mid-chew. How could they be so callous? I began to wonder if I was the only female viewer whose stomach was turning at their comments. Only Charlotte stood up for him, saying that New York women (and perhaps all modern women) are so starved for romance we don't know what to do with ourselves when we come across it.

Later in the episode, he asks Carrie to dance as music plays in the background on a New York street. Carrie faints from all the excitement, and tells him to tone down the romance because, "It's too much." They end their date at McDonald's rather than at The Opera. How romantic.

What's going on, ladies? Are we so jaded by all the romance we see in movies that when it happens in real life we feel a need to laugh it off with our friends? Or are we just letting our guys off the hook so much we can hardly recognize it anymore? Are we starting to think that old school romantic gestures should be left in the past or do we just not believe they'll be around in the future? This brings up another question: How much is too much? Are women setting their expectations too high or are men just not trying as hard as they used to?

In the past, women could expect flowers, love notes, letters from lovers abroad, even poetry. Now women on television make fun of love songs. I ask you, where is the love?

When I was in the sixth grade, the first love of my life surprised me at lunch time. He sat down at the desk across from me, pulled out a CD player (remember those?) and speakers, put in his Tyrese CD, jumped up on my desk and serenaded me with the chorus of "Sweet Lady." This was the highlight of my eleven-year-old life. Until two years later when the same kid turned around at the end of the day and sang "You Are So Beautiful" to me before asking me to see Pearl Harbor with him in front of the entire class.

10 years later, both songs still bring me to another place and time, remembering that sweet, grinning face singing me such romantic lyrics at such a young age. I have to wonder if it was that fleeting romance or the resulting heartbreak that brings a new meaning to both songs now. I was 13 and thrilled that my middle school crush had finally seen the light —- only to be told

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