One of many charming illustrations in another quaint old book, The Lover's Baedeker and Guide to Arcady by Carolyn Wells, 1912.
Rather than an example of arch and sickly post-Victorian sentimentality, the small volume derides the cliches of the day's romantic excess with gentle sarcasm.
In physical appearance dwellers in Arcady are beautiful beyond all words. The women have eyes as stars of twilight fair, faces with gardens in, lily hands, amber-dropping hair, and feet like little mice. The men are handsome as Apollos; of heroic size...
While I'm definitely not of the close-the-bedroom-door variety of writer or reader, lately I've experienced a certain yearning for a more romantic gloss on couple encounters. A little less lust and sweat and a little more romance before hand. A little more seduction and a little less screw-her-against-the-kitchen-counter-the-first-time-they-meet.
Of all things, a couple of refresh-your-breath, chewing gum TV advertisements solidified this for me.
In one, strangers leer at each other in a streetcar before connecting. He pops a mint and the actors swim towards each other like a pair of sucker fish.
And all I can think of is: he's got a wad of gum in his mouth.
In the other, a frog swallows a breath-fresh tablet, is picked up and kissed by a princess. Of course, herr frog turns into a large and masterful pransome hince who proceeds to kiss her properly.
The advertisement is a little spoiled for me in the next frame because the modern male is short and narrow-shouldered and geeky-looking, but I can ignore that.
While it's an old adage that kissing is upper persuasion for lower invasion, I'm usually disappointed by kissing descriptions in romantic novels. I find them too abrupt and slam-bang, no matter how many paragraphs are devoted to the mechanics of his tongue -- maybe because many concentrate purely on the physical -- to the neglect of the emotional, the illusion and the romance.
Sex and its preliminaries aren't just another appetite. I'd like to see a little glamour. A little more romance.