Man plus Woman equals What?
“As soon as a man and woman of almost any age are alone together within four walls it is assumed that anything may happen. Spontaneous combustion, instant fornication, triumph of the senses. What possibilities men and women must see in each other to infer such dangers. Or, believing in the dangers, how often they must think about the possibilities.” – Alice Munroe
If the Yahoo home page is even remotely accurate in suggesting what people wonder about, then people appear fixated on revealing dresses and bathing suits, who celebrities are sleeping with, and older people who’ve “still got it.”
“It” is the danger of a man and a woman alone in a room.
If novel sales are even remotely accurate in telling us what we like, then we like speculating about what might happen in that room (car, forest, castle, swamp) when a man and a woman are alone. According to the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Romance was the top-performing category on the best-seller lists in 2012, generating $1,438 billion in sales.
“Romance” in novels is often linked to the danger of “Man plus Woman.”
Like many other authors who read a lot of books, I am variously amused, excited, disgusted, bored and curious about the what the reporter says s/he will tell me about in his/her celebrity story or what the author promises to reveal between the covers of his/her novel. As an author, I usually care a lot more about how the writer/reporter tells the man+woman story than what happens when the man and the woman are together. Not much is new on that score, but I guess we like hoping there might be.
There are times when I think the cynics are wrong about the $ sign being our defining symbol. Perhaps it should be a bed.
The old newspaperman Horace Greeley once said that the thing most readers are interested in the most is themselves. I know a lot of us are interested in having money, friends, security, good food, successful children, great health and long lives. A lot of that involves the $ sign.
Yet, when reading habits come into play, a lot of us apparently want to be in the bed when–as celebrity journalists’ would say–somebody arrives in a jaw-dropping outfit and asks, “How about a night of spontaneous combustion?” Or, if we can’t be there, we like hearing about people who are.
I’m not a romance novelist or a celebrity journalist, so I try very hard not to focus my writing on the sexual what that happens in the “Man plus woman” equation. But, as I look at the importance of the bed in our culture, I sometimes wonder if I need more beds in my books.