JAN BROGAN - I think last year we talked about how most of our demands and/or expectations of Valentine's Day celebration sort of diminish after so many years of a happy marriage. And that we do not need big jewels, the most fabulous date ever, or five dozen roses delivered to our door to feel grateful for our spouses.
But that's real, true enduring love. I don't want to talk about that on this Valentine's Day. I want to talk about the highly commercialized, overplayed, over sentimentalized, get-yourself-in-trouble stuff. Which is not really love at all, but chemical attraction.
According to WebMD, the brain can release love-related chemicals and hormones within one-fifth of a second of first sight, researchers say. A 2010 study also showed that new love really is like a drug -- it sparks the same euphoric feeling (and brain area) as cocaine.
So my question is: Have any of you experienced it? And not necessarily with your husband? I'm not looking for sordid confessions here, but I'm talking about that little rush of attraction that let's you know you are still alive, and that those brain chemicals are working.
I have to say, it hasn't happened to me a lot, but it has happened. Of course, I was absolutely smacked in the head with all those brain chemicals when I first met my husband, and I'm happy to say, I still feel that attraction. But it's also happened to me a couple of times when I wasn't expecting it. A sudden surge of attraction to another male. A what-the-hell-just-happened-to-me reaction. Nothing that I was going to act on. But strong enough for me to identify and say, hey, that chemical thing between people must actually exist, before quickly and firmly TALKING IT DOWN.
Anyone else care to fess up? No naming names required. And remember, we talked about how great our husbands were LAST YEAR.
LUCY BURDETTE: Ha, ha, Jan, we can never talk enough about how great our husbands are though, right? I have to say that the surge in chemicals must be affected by a person's state of mind at the time. Because it took a good six months of playing mixed doubles tennis before I recognized that John was my guy. And why? He didn't change, but maybe my readiness for a serious relationship had.
In my therapist days, I heard of lots of people who were tempted by what they thought was true love. And then it didn't turn out to be love at all--it turned out to be grief or loneliness or anger...Just saying...take your time and don't throw away what you've got until you figure out what's really going on.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Ah...kind of. IN real life? Of course, Jonathan. And I knew INSTANTLY. INstantly. We have not been apart since the day we met, ahh..17 years ago?
In fantasy-ish life? Hugh Grant. In Love, Actually. (Sorry. I know it's silly and predictable.)Keanu Reaves in SPEED. Paul Simon. Bruce Springsteen. (This is getting sillier and sillier, but you asked.) Gregory Peck. And I dreamed about a current and famous thriller writer the other night, not saying who but NOT Lee Child, and woke up thinking..HUH???
HALLIE EPHRON: Not Lee Child, eh... really??
Can we talk about great kissers? Because that's what sent me into frisson-ville with my husband. Movie stars? Jon Hamm is so adorable, and I like him best when he plays dorky comedy. What can I say, I like dorks. Remember how adorable Christopher Reeve was as Clark Kent?
In real life? I once ran into a former boyfriend and had that little frisson. For about a minute. Otherwise, honestly? No.
HANK: Yes, an old boyfriend came to town recently--I had REALLY loved him. When we saw each other this time? NUTHIN. At all. So funny! Was he a great kisser? I can't even remember.
JAN: I love the term frisson. We can talk about great kissers, but we can't talk about our HUSBANDS, we are so happily married. (she says, meaning it), but it gets a bit predictable, no? We ALWAYS TALK ABOUT OUR HUSBANDS.
RHYS BOWEN: I used to have a huge crush on Robert Redford. I still have a poster sized picture of him in an open necked shirt above my desk in California. And now I look up at it and think "You used to be so gorgeous.What happened?'
Ditto Paul Newman who stayed handsome to the end. In my early days I lusted after John Lennon. Paul was too goody goody. I wanted the bad one. (I actually dated a couple of rock stars. I went on a rock history website the other day and studied his pictures and I thought "Is that what he looked like? I can't even remember." and yet the world fell apart when we split.
And Hank sometimes I dream about the strangest men, men for whom I have no attraction in real life. And having studied dream psychology I ask myself "What am I really looking for right now?"
John didn't send shivers when I met him. I fact I was going for another guy at the party. But John offered to drive me home. A few days later we went for a long walk on the beach and I found I could actually talk to him.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Jan, I read this first as "Love at First Bite." Obviously watching too many vampire shows... But as for the "love at first sight" chemical rush, I actually did feel that with my husband. I mean, like woozy dizzy--whoa! I have felt it before and since, but never quite like that, so I guess I'm a believer.
Rhys, confession time? Which rock stars???
As for the fantasy-tingle guys, I absolutely HEART Matt Damon. Colin Firth. Ewan McGregor. Used to really like Hugh Grant but he's gotten so cranky in middle(or past middle) age. And on the cradle-robbing front, Benedict Cumberbatch is adorable. And speaking of vampires, my latest screen heartthrob is Aidan Turner, who plays Mitchell in the UK version of Being Human.
But I'm perfectly happy with dinner and maybe a movie with my hubby.
JULIA SPENCER FLEMING: I'll admit it right here, I once had an erotic dream about Al Gore. It was during the first Clinton administration and I was pregnant - I think it was the hormones.
The big, knock-you-over, agony-and-ecstasy thing? That was my first serious boyfriend. I met him the summer I turned seventeen and and as soon as I saw him it was BAM! Like those paranormal romances where the werewolves Know their Fated Mates. We had a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship for years. I was still seeing him during occasional weekends in Boston when I met Ross. The Boyfriend asked me to marry him - after I had gotten engaged to Ross. We would have made a dreadful pair of spouses: both emotional, volatile, creative, unfocused and disorganized. We were too much alike. The highs were unbelievable, but the lows were barely survivable.
Interestingly enough (since we DO always talk about our husbands) meeting Ross was kind of the opposite. It was more like: Here's a nice guy. And he has good manners. I like the way he treats me. We have the same values. I bet he'd make a good father... our relationship was like a New England stone wall, laid stone by stone until you have something that will last centuries. Or at least 25 years this May.
JAN: As you can see, there's really no way to stop these Reds from talking about their husbands. Sigh. But on Valentine's Day, it's a nice touch.
But back to the subject at hand, love -- or let's call it attraction -- at first sight. Julia's first serious boyfriend and Hallie's frisson, otherwise known as the brain chemical/hormonal thing. Anyone out there willing to own up to ever feeling the excitement of Cupid's Arrow at an unexpected time?