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A romantic interlude with the librarian

Mike Drummond, Columnist
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The other day, the coaster for my morning coffee was a book – “1,001 Ways To Be Romantic” by Gregory Godek.

“A refresher course, dear,” my wife said amiably.

And I thought we were ALREADY living a romantic life. Just the two of us, in a little (mortgageless) cottage in the woods, our modest material needs met by my equally modest income as a writer.



Sounds romantic to me.

But then, I wasn’t the one who deposited a 275-page dissertation on the coffee table. As the caffeine kicked in, I read.




Apparently, true romance is more about breathing than about heavy breathing. Like happiness, romance is a process, not a speci.c event.

The romantic life as described by Mr Godek involves shopping – a major stumbling block here at Clear Creek Ranch. That process was easier when we were city dwellers with multiple credit cards.

Flowers, cards, chocolates, mood music, perfume, dinner, lingerie. Cliches? Certainly, but they worked. That’s how they got to be cliches.

Now the only store within easy commuting distance specializes in livestock feed and gasoline.

Hardly a bastion of endearing geegaws and alluring fragrances, unless one is a tractor mechanic.

I can pick wild.owers from our meadow any time. But my wife is quick to note that their fragile beauty is best appreciated in a natural setting.

Indoors, they fade, wilt, and can’t set seed for next year’s show in the meadow.

Cut fowers from a forist bring not romance, but concerns about my extravagance. And a crossexamination on their cultivation – whether they are organic – triggers discussions of systemic fertilizers,

bene.cial insects, soil depletion, groundwater pollution and the exploitation of Third World nursery workers. And store-bought .owers

never smell as good as the home-grown varieties.

A gift of perfume can cause a stink. It is expensive and probably contains a .xative like ambergris from slaughtered sperm whales or the musk glands of African civet cats or American spotted

skunks.Toilet water is .ower-based, but sounds like something the dog would like to drink.

Lingerie is both frilly and frivolous (if it’s any good), but “of corset” recalls a patriarchal era when women were depersonalized and enslaved as sex objects.

Romantic music? It is 2002, and we have never owned a CD player. The needle on our record player is dull, and the good LPs are worn out and scratchy. The bad LPs are warped.

Selecting a romantic greeting card should be easy, but even if it’s printed with soy-based ink on recycled paper, it represents trees felled needlessly.

The envelope glue might be animal-based. Then there is the greeting card feng shui problem. All the words, cute animal .gures, symbols and colors must work together in an auspicious manner

when interpreted by the recipient. One cute forest critter facing the wrong way may portend catastrophe.

As can that evil carbohydrate, sugar, an ingredient in milk chocolates. Or the equally heinous milk, which brings up the dairy issue – enslavement of cows, veal production, ground-water pollution, factory farming, free-range cows, bovine growth hormones and fast-food burgers.

These days we only dine out at vegetarian restaurants where the menu is segregated into its ovo-, lacto-, ovo/lacto-, quasi-, semi-, sorta- and vegan elements. (I’m an agnosto-vegetarian myself.

As long as there aren’t any bones in it, I don’t need to know exactly what it is or how it’s prepared, thanks.)

Not that I’ll mention any of this to my wife. I don’t need a book to tell me THAT wouldn’t be very romantic.

Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at miked@theunion.com.


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