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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

My first lesson in love and romance came from one of the many romance novels that cluttered the corners of the house. Mom tended to gravitate towards authors such as Judith McNaught, Danielle Steele and Maeve Binchy. When given some cash and a trip to the book store, I bought Christopher Pike and Dean Koontz and even sometimes, V.C. Andrews. Sometimes out of nowhere the memory of My Sweet Audrina will rise up in my brain. I'll shake my head and say to myself "Gah, that book was so fucked up." It really was. No young teenage girl has any business reading that book. Any way...that was back in the day when a book lasted me about a day. I'd finish up something and just grab whatever happened to be next in the stack of books by Mom's bed. 

side note: I started reading these books when I was about twelve or thirteen. It is very obvious that I had little parental supervision or my parents (Mom) just didn't really care what I was reading. It wasn't until I was about sixteen when an adult question me about a book I was reading. I was reading The Firm and the stranger sitting next to me on a flight to San Diego looked at me and said "Aren't you a little too young to be reading that book?" I had, of course, perfected the teenage eye roll and general unresponsiveness. 

Those books, even though I knew they were fiction, imprinted me with an idea of what to expect in finding your one true love. And also sex. Those books also imprinted me with some idea of the physical aspects of love. Considering that I can count on one hand the number of times I witnessed any sort of affectionate contact between my parents, these books became important guides in affectionate contact. This is what I knew about what happened when you encountered The One. First there would be a general spark of electricity resembling lightening during the first contact, the first contact being something like a handshake. Then the two main characters would finally kiss. The heroine's thighs would burst into flames and she'd swoon into the hero's rock hard chest. Other fireworks and explosion would thus ensue. 

It was around the time I'd kissed the second boy I'd ever kissed when I realized that those books where most likely over exaggerating the whole experience. I have never been struck by lightening. Not even with Chris. I also would not describe my sexual arousal as thighs bursting into flames. Nor have I ever felt like swooning. I had a friend in undergrad who thoroughly believed that it would all be just like the way it is in the books. Days of Our Lives was a very important part of her day. I remember asking another girl in the dorms once who was getting married, how did she know he was the one. I remember her shrug and say "I just knew. No big deal. He was just the one." They were only married for a few years, but I assume that in that moment she really did believe he was The One.

With Chris, I just loved (love) him. With Michael, I also just love him. Michael left out on his scooter one morning. I was not too far behind him. I was just putting my scooter helmet on when I could hear my phone ringing in my bag. I pulled the helmet off and fished my phone out only to miss his call. I could hear sirens in the distance. It took me three tries to get him back on the line. He was fine. He'd forgotten his glasses and was just calling to see if I'd left the house yet. I told him his call had scared me. We rarely talk on the phone to each other. He said that he was sorry to scare me, but my worry must mean that I do love him. I responded with "Maybe I'm just concerned for your well being." Because I am the Han Solo of this relationship.

I sometimes wonder about that girl from undergrad who believed in the fairy tale version of love. I hope she hasn't been disappointed. I hope she's figured out what I did. The real thing pales in comparison to the fiction.