Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bumper Sticker Dialogues

While my own car doesn't sport any, I like to have imaginary conversations with bumper stickers. Pasted images and taglines on the backs of cars reveal a lot about the state of the world. This afternoon I pulled up abruptly in a parking lot to read this:

"Your body is a temple. Mine is an amusement park."

This line propelled me into a mental conversation that was a more of a confession about my own penchant for clandestine reading of romance novels. As a Ph.D. and P.K. (pastor's kid), such an activity is frowned upon by both academic and spiritual camps. My acts of contrition go like this: if I read three "lit" books I get to read one "romance," much in the way of if I go for that jog I can eat all these french fries. And lo, the guilty self-abuse cycle goes on. But I've decided it's time to come clean and break free. The lovely ladies at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books make the process a little less painful.

Face it. Romance novels are fabulous. It's a great genre, an audacious fearless genre, and it holds the highest market share of the publishing world. Snap.

When I was a little girl I hid romance novels under my bed so I could consume them without discovery (sorry mom). I think the secretive ritual made reading the books all the better. Maybe now that I've written this post my romance novel cravings will drop. But I don't think so. Why? Because those romances that are truly well executed demonstrate the master craft of sustaining tension. The taut emotion and pacing of this genre are what draw such massive readerships.

So I was more than little surprised when in the midst of my last indulgence I slammed up against a tension-ruining wall. It came in the form of a single word.


I kid you not.


Dear author, I appreciate that you're writing a historical romance that takes place in the early nineteenth century and focuses on the lives of the oh-so-proper British upper crust. But please, please do not believe you sustain my rapture if you force me to swallow a word like PULCHRITUDE as a descriptor. To refer back to my previous post about words I can't handle, let's add pulchritude to that list. Stat.

For me pulchritude does not evoke "beauty which pleases the eye," it brings to mind "one who is adept at projectile vomiting."

In the midst of satin stays, heaving bosoms, and sultry gazes I cannot stomach pulchritude. Not for the sliver of an instant. And yet, much to my dismay the word appears not once but a few dozen times in the narrative.

I've somehow found myself in a romance novel that rides like bumper cars.
Hmmmm, this?


Maybe a body like an amusement park isn't the best idea after all. When it comes to the land of love I'd rather be worshiped than jerked around.

Pulchritude?...nuh-uh. It is no good. No good.

1 comment:

  1. hahahaha....that's awesome....and a great call....pulchritude is even worse than bucolic!