Enough Sexy, Bring the Romance Back

JT, bringing sexy back

When Justin Timberlake brought sexy back in 2006, I was a few weeks away from getting married. That was the perfect time to bring it back since I’d be spending a lush seven days in St. Lucia with my bride. This post isn’t about that trip, or even my marriage, but indulge with me.

While JT brought it back, I sent sexy packing again by stockpiling about 30 lbs of not muscle within a year or so. I was basically a barrel with arms and legs. No amount of sensuous R&B or mood lighting was going to make that sexy.

I wasn’t really romantic in that time either, not like when I was in high school and college. Point of fact, in the years of yesterfar the iconic rain embrace scene from The Notebook was my desktop background. My movie genre of choice was Romantic Comedies. News flash: the love fern is dead.

While I wasn’t always the best human I could be, I cared about romantics. I had the crushes and made the mixtapes (if you listen closely you can still hear K-Ci & JoJo singing ‘All My Life’). I would wait for the daily top five countdown with a blank cassette tape in my JVC boombox (exact model in the pic), ready to hit play and record with Ethan Hunt precision. Your mission, should you choose to accept it–try not to fall in love with the guy who made this wicked tape!

If all went according to plan, the progression of relationship would go as follows:

“I like you.” “We’re talking.” “Want to go out?” “Want to be boyfriend and girlfriend?” “Let’s get married.”

Something formative happens in the midst of hopeless romanticism and being head over heels in like. Something formative also happens in its absence.

Hello Sexy, Goodbye Romance

When sexy came onto campus, she kicked romance out the door. It wouldn’t be long before twerking would be a thing. And with twerking came the end of civilization or, at least, civilized courtship, dating, and age-appropriate romance. Meaningful communication took a nosedive. Kids would never know what it’s like to breathe over the phone for an hour in between spurts of pubescent awkwardness.

Younger generations have been dating digitally way before COVID. It’s why right now there are umpteen teens in passenger seats while mom drives, thumbs flailing across digital keypads as if independent from the body. Swiping, scrolling, sending, sliding into DMs (gross?). Gotta keep the streaks alive, am I right? I’m a savage. You’re a savage. We’re all savages. Screens have yet to make anyone more human.

I’m not anti-technology. I kept it 100 when I courted my wife on AOL instant messenger. I had away messages that made knees melt.

Now.

It feels different. Impersonal. Un-embodied. A massive confusing of attention for affection. Thus, the birth of arched back photos, ratchets, and body counts.

Sensual Death Tolls

If you’re out of the slang game, a body count no longer only refers to casualties of war, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters. No, dear friend. Language once reserved for the worst disasters is now reserved for how many people someone has been with sexually. Every young girl’s dream…to be on Mr. Right’s hit list. A casualty of war.

Why so serious? Because the anguish I feel is deep. It’s like watching Dorian Grays frolicking in fantasy land, as if his portrait tucked away in the attic isn’t externally disfigured as a result of internal decadence.

Young hearts longing for romance are settling for rendezvous. Once hopeful sprites for love now given over to the lowest common sexual denominator because, what other choice is there? This is a bit of a cry for help. I’m crying out to parents and teachers and friends and churches.

A Better Way

Part of why I published this is to make myself for accountable in romancing my girl. She deservers way more. Time to step up. Our kids get giddy when they see dad and mom flirt and kiss, especially when mom “acts” like she doesn’t like it.

It starts with painting an alternative, better picture of romance and relationship. Romantic pursuit, conversation, flirting, dating, notes, and all the things. For those who are married, seriously consider: would you be thrilled if your kids had your marriage?

Selfishly, there’s more to it. Chances are (albeit slim), that someone reading this post has a boy who will one day stand in front of one of my three girls asking if she’ll love him.

So go on. Cast a crazy beautiful picture of romance for that kid.

*** Switch to Side B for the rest of the mix tape.

How Civilized is Civilization?

 

One of the great laments I have is that I never read great works of literature. Yeats, Hemingway, Twain, Dostoyevsky, Woolf, Plath and Thoreau are a mere sampling of the great cloud of literary witnesses whose company I’ve failed to keep. Granted, I had some exposure to such works, but I didn’t care at the time; it was college, after all. There was more to do.

While in Brevard, North Carolina one day, Lindsey and I happened upon a used book sale at the Transylvania County Library. There were no copies of Twilight, Fifty Shade of Grey, or The Notebook to be seen, presumably because people checked out those books . What I found, though, was a treasure trove of great works by Faulkner, Twain, Hemingway, Thoreau, and Dostoyevsky. So I bought them.

I read The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway first because it fit in my back pocket. That fish put up one heck of a fight. The old man’s patience was both inspiring and depressing. When patience bleeds into passivity, it is not longer inspiring.

I picked up another book, a double volume, from my nightstand and started reading. Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau were both on my ‘list’. So I started Walden.

I take it Thoreau didn’t watch television and wouldn’t have had it been available. His reach into Latin, Greek mythology, and religion is envious–attainable with time, sure, but who has such time with Netflix?

In the first paragraph of the book Thoreau tells of coming back from his stay in the woods, counting himself “a sojourner in civilized life again.” That line struck me for its Christian undertones. Though acquainted with the Bible, I doubt Thoreau was making that allusion.

Inside of cabin

In light of the chaos of the cosmos and the increasing expressions of darkness around the world, one should ask what and/or who is civilized. It seems to me that Walden’s woods might be the kind of “civilized” we long for.

Here we [read, Christians] are, sojourners in a civilization that sees us as foreign and irrelevant, at best. But it is our irrelevance to the modern culture at large that makes us distinctly Christian. I am not saying pipe organs equate you with holiness. Fundamentally, the message of the cross and Christ is largely impractical and ineffective by count of the civilized.

Thus the task we take on in Christ is to sojourn faithfully, not as escapists or as those who embrace all for the sake of relevance, whatever that is. We engage as those in the world but not of the world.

As the quote below says, would that none of us upon coming to die discover that we had not lived