Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A Serial Monogamist

Okay, this is a unique post. It's also hilarious. Welcome author J.M. Kelley to Four Strong Women!---Faith

I write romance. I’m often asked why I chose that particular genre, and I have several perfectly accurate responses to that question. The truest answer, however, is one I tend to keep to myself, since it’s not very…romantic. The real answer has a lot to do with the simple fact that the everyday man, well…let’s just say guys tend to leave me either scratching my head in confusion or banging it against a wall in frustration.

See, I’m single. A serial monogamist. Well, a reformed serial monogamist, since the only deep, meaningful relationship I’ve had in a while has been with my Facebook account. I don’t get out much, okay? But every once in a while, I have the opportunity to interact with the male species, and it’s always such a shock to the system when I’m reminded that the men just don’t act like romance novel heroes.
Photo courtesy of 
The fundamental problem with being a single-and-still-looking romance writer is that I keep inventing guys that I would want. Men who would make me swoon. Dudes who get my heart all a-flutter. Write a few stories, and you’ve essentially created the perfect man. This leads to a painful writer's discovery: Even if we allow our dream men to have flaws in the pages of our manuscript, we’ve still created a damn unicorn. This guy doesn’t exist, and no man you meet will ever live up to the potential of your own literary hero.

In a romance, your hero will know when you have something on your mind. He may not necessarily try to suss out what the problem is right away, but he knows. And he will try to cheer you up or wait for an opportunity to present itself in which he can ride up on his white horse and save the day just in the nick of time. In real life, your beloved will see the evidence of emotional turmoil on your face and say, “What’s with that look? Got gas?” If he’s especially motivated, he may offer you a Tums.

In a romance, your hero will see you gazing longingly at him across the room and realize that you must have feelings for him. And that he has feelings for you. He will walk determinedly across the room and sweep you into a lusty embrace that would put all other lusty embraces to utter shame. In real life, your beloved will catch you looking at him and immediately check his fly. Then he will forget he ever caught you admiring his average, but pleasing, physique. Also, he will remain completely oblivious to your affections, and turn to ogle the cleavage of an approaching skank in spandex.

The romance hero will want to discuss your feelings. The real-lifer will want to discuss the knock-knock joke his best friend from high school just texted him.
The romance hero will hold your hair when you’re sick. The real-lifer will take a picture of you draped over the toilet bowl, and then promptly post it to Facebook.
The romance hero will buy fine wine and chocolate-covered strawberries for an intimate night together. The real-lifer will strongly consider Taco Bell before grabbing a bucket of KFC, and then try to turn on the Yankees game in the middle of dinner.

The romance hero will sit quietly by your side, sharing a silent moment of love, bliss, adoration, and contemplation about your future. The real-lifer will try really hard to hide a nose-pick as he mentally debates whether or not he’s going to buy a Carolina Panthers hat this coming weekend.

The romance hero will buy you a precious diamond. The real-lifer will buy you hedge clippers.

It’s maddening, being a romantic at heart. I want to be wooed! I want to be swept off my feet! I want roses and wine and violins playing softly in the background! So why, if I know first-hand that men conceived in Times New Roman 12-point font can’t ever be eclipsed, do I still think I might want to have a real-lifer of my own?
I’ve got a rationalization for this. I do.

Even the most fascinatingly complex romance hero, in real life, would be boring. Boringly perfect and sexy and talented and charming and…and…

Photo courtesy of
Okay, I’m back.

Boring. Yes. Boring. I think most readers and writers of romance know the score. In the end, the fantasy is great. A fun escape from day to day life. A vacation from the mundane. But fantasy doesn’t sustain. It runs out of steam very quickly.

In the end, we just want (or already have) a normal guy who might someday achieve a glorious moment of knight-in-shining-armor. Maybe they’ll even achieve two or three in the course of a lifetime. And most of us are okay with that. Reality can be quite nice, after all.

We’ll take the stupid jokes and the Yankees worship. Because it came from the boy who, despite the nose picks, the obliviousness, and hell, even despite the damn Taco Bell, can win (or already has won) your heart. Even if his fly has a tendency of slipping open at the most inopportune times, if he’s willing to stand by your side through thick and thin, it’s okay.

The Beatles were right. All you need is love. Love and hedge clippers.

For more from J.M. Kelley, please visit her website at


Faith said...

J.M. that part about the gas and the Tums had me cracking up and then I got choked on my coffee! LOL!

Fantastic post, hon!

JM Kelley said...

Thanks, Faith! If only ranting were an Olympic event. I might finally have a reason to call myself an athlete....

Christina Wolfer said...

Wonderful post, JM. Thoroughly enjoyed the comparisons of fantasy and the real-lifer.

JM Kelley said...

Thanks for reading, Christina!

Jotter Girl said...

Great post! I love your sense of humor. The ideal guy is somewhere in the middle and there is probably only one on the planet.

Laurie said...

That was some funny stuff and oh so true. Great post. Now excuse me while I go polish my hedge trimmer.

Naomi Bellina said...

So true! That's why we love to escape to romance for awhile. Cute post!

Janie Emaus said...

When you find that ideal guy, please let me know.

Starfox Howl said...

I'm a man, married, and might I give you a peek from the other side of the genetic divide?

Sorry to hear that most of your interactions with my half of the species have been so low on the satisfaction scale. My wife keeps telling me that there are a few good men out in the world, but most are staring at the same well packed jeans you are as the male inside strides off in the opposite direction.

While your sword slinging hero might have the body of a god and needs to special order his wrappers from Trojan, will he stand and face the wrath of the mother when caught in flagrante delicto, or will he be clutching his cod-piece to himself while diving through the window to escape?

Your romance hero may be fearless in facing the dragon that threatens his fair Dulcinea, but will he be just as fearless when facing the checkout girl with a basket of feminine products.

And yes, we may look at a top heavy skank tottering along on multi-inch spiked heels, but we slip our arms around you and count ourselves lucky. And on the nights that you cajole us into a romantic movie, while you openly stare and drool over the loincloth wearing hero, we'll pretend that it's popcorn butter on your chin and hand you a napkin so you don't stain your blouse. And again, count ourselves lucky that when the lights come up, he will be gone, trapped like a genie in a bottle, while you come home with us.

While we Mr. Average types are up against the beautiful people and godlings of romance novels, we do have one thing in our favor that trumps all others, hearts.

And love.

Besides, what's slaying a dragon compared to getting rid of that spider climbing up the wall?

Valerie Mann said...

I agree with Starfox. For me, one of the greatest things about being a romance writer is crawling inside the head of the hero and making him lovably flawed. I think the best romance heroes are the ones I can really relate to. Sure, the studly, sex-on-a-stick swoon worthy ones are great to fantasize about, but if you look at the most popular romance heroes, they're just swoon-worthy versions of real-life men.

You'll find your own swoon-worthy hero, J.M.! Amazingly, when you do, all of the things a girl thinks she can't live with will be little quirks easily overlooked. It will be worth the wait!

JM Kelley said...

Thanks for coming over, everyone! Love the comments! Starfox, I gotta say, my white knight can leave his shiny sword at home if he will slay the big bad spiders for me. That's one thing I simply cannot bear to do on my own.

L.M. Brown said...

Great post.

I am also in the realm of constantly single and know it is probably because I am too picky. Or at least that is what my friends tell me, at the same time as telling me that the bloke who thought I was on the game might actually have been quite nice!

I'll no doubt keep looking for Mr Right and if he doesn't show up, I'll just become the crazy old cat lady.

Faith said...

Starfox, I loved the part about the popcorn butter, lmao!

I'm very After dealing with three controlling psychos, I was finally blessed with a real "knight in shining armor" so I thank God for him every day.

JM Kelley said...

L.M., I guess I am picky, as well. Though lately it seems that picky means, "Gee, I'm tempted, but that tracking anklet you're wearing is a little off-putting."

Janice Seagraves said...

Great post. It had me chuckling. I even enjoyed reading the comments, especially Star Fox's.


JM Kelley said...

Thanks, Janice-and I'm kinda jealous of Starfox's wife right now ;)

Barbara Elsborg said...

I'm really picky - I thank my lucky stars I found Mr Right very early on - otherwise, I suspect I'd still be single. His proposal left a lot to be desired though - he started off by saying - I know my feet smell but..... That does NOT feature in any of my stories. I'd kill my heroes rather than let them say that!

Fiona McGier said...

I've been married for almost 30 years to the man of my dreams. Our courtship began with him showing up at a friend's party, when I was already drunk and doing "Rocky and Bullwinkle" imitations. I was carried out of there, fireman-style, while his ex-roommate assured him that I wasn't married, that it was my brother taking me home. The following week he came to a party at our house...and let's just say I'd have married him the next day! I waited for 2 years while he made up his mind. Then over a pitcher of beer and a pizza after his bowling league, he said, "How about it?" I said, "What?" He said, "You and me...let's get married." I said, "No shit? Cool!" And that was that. Best decision we ever made. He does all of the things you're looking for and then some! We celebrate our love with 2 weekends per year spent in a love-nest somewhere, even if it's just for a few hours at a no-tell motel!

And our 4 adult kids tease us, asking us to tell them again about how romantically we met and got engaged! Smart-ass kids!

There are men out there who are not neanderthals. There are women out there who like sex just as much if not more, than romance. We just have to find each other. I really believe in "taking them for a long test-drive". And remember, "A woman needs to feel loved to make love. A man needs to make love to feel loved." Have lots of sex as often as possible, and you just might find your true love is already under your covers!