When is the seed planted? The notion of romantic love—and the desire for all its accompanying accoutrements, i.e. red roses, candlelight dinners, diamond rings, etc. Are we women simply conditioned in childhood with fairy tale Prince Charming scenarios to believe someday our White Knight/Mr. Right will come? Or is it an innate trait? Some leftover primordial hard-wired Cro-Magnonesque species-survival instinct? FYI, said cavemen’s cave was found in France—the land of romance. A coincidence? (I think not.) Or is it something deeper? Say . . . DNA deep? Is there a romance gene?
I have no clue. But I do know there is something. Something within us that causes us to crave it. Like dumbass moths to a flame (maybe that explains the candle thing?) we otherwise seemingly intelligent and even well-educated women gravitate toward the men who make us feel it—even when logic says he’s a prick! Or maybe that’s just me? (I think not.) Whatever the source, it exists. We believe. And we want—and we feel lacking without. No matter how in all other ways our lives are full and fulfilled, we feel as if something is missing. Or maybe that’s just me? (I think not.) There’s a reason Valentine’s Day is the single woman’s most hated holiday . . . just saying.
And while I know it doesn’t help, hear me out. Ladies, we are buying into a lie. And speaking of buying . . . it’s long been a staple in selling. Marketing 101: sex sells. But here’s a distinction rarely made—sex sells to men. Ergo, bikini-clad bimbos at car shows, naked pin-up girls on tool and tire calendars and buxom broads on beer labels. A perfect case in point, the short-skirted, hair-blowing, lips-pursed girl the dork wishes to see bare (causing an actual bear to appear) in that STUPID spicy Doritos commercial. Seriously? But let’s be realistic—even if the ad is not. Who eats that shit? (Answer: every male in my family—including the 15-month-old!)
When to comes to women, however . . . it’s romance that sells. Aside from the obvious—the movie cable channels that keep the lie alive with their cheesy predictable plots and B actors and the no less cheesy and predictable novels (I know, ‘cause I wrote ‘em) that annually rake in over $1B while accounting for over one-third of all mass market books sold—there’s the advertising campaigns, magazine lay-outs and TV commercials that perpetuate the pap. Often truly asinine, these ads typically use tried and true techniques. (Think erotic slo-mo body part montages, soulful glances, billowing clouds and crashing waves—all to the accompaniment of mood music ala Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game). While the products they hawk sometimes have a recognizable correlation to romance (ala perfume ads), it’s an equal bet romance is irrelevant to the product at hand. Not that it matters—’cause remember, romance sells.
My favorite (not) is an ad currently airing for Glade 3-wick candles. (Somehow better than 1 wick??) If you haven’t seen it, let me enlighten you (no pun intended). It’s tagline is Love . . . we have a scent for that. Only 14-seconds long, the spot nonetheless manages to get the full romantic love fantasy in . . . or at least what the marketing masterminds have determined that fantasy is . . . rose petals up the stairs leading a waiting guy with a balcony behind him and a European view. But wait! It gets better! He’s on bended knee with a guitar (wtf!) and a ring (double wtf!) in hand. SERIOUSLY?!?
Now to be fair to the geniuses behind this commercial, scent is a powerful sense. In fact, it is the most powerful of the senses because it is the only one capable of triggering both a reaction and a sensation. Unlike a sound or a sight, a touch or a taste, a smell can transport you back to a moment in time. (The smell of diesel instantly takes me back to Germany, while the odor of old beeswax in an antique store transports me to my grandmother’s basement where she stored old furniture. And we won’t even talk about where I go when the random guy passing me on the street smells like the same bodywash Sunday uses . . .) There’s actually an anatomical reason why smell triggers emotions and subsequent memories. Sense of smell is the only one of the senses biologically linked to our limbic systems. That said . . . I have a newsflash, S.C. Johnson & Sons . . . love doesn’t have a scent! However, as anyone who has gone at it for an extended period of time in a closed space knows . . . sex does.
Now there’s a marketing match made in Heaven. Simple a equals b and b equals c transitive law logic . . . sex smells and sex sells . . . Hell! Who knows? The post-coitus funk smell of sex could be coming soon to a candle near you . . .