Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day: Cupid's arrow is for real.

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?


  1. Wow. Yes. Scout and I met one Christmas Eve. 1967. I was a baby. He was a grownup. Immediate and passionate. It took about one and a half seconds to commit to the future with him.

    We drove the world crazy. Drove two hours to Mojave, California for coffee. We napped in his nephew's bedroom.

    I got a lecture from his sister about how this would never do. I was so young. He was not so young. Our children are only four years older than he was when we married. I was an actor. He was a rocket scientist. For real.

    He went back to Kansas after the holidays. Quit his job. Moved to California. We've been together since.

    Other than that. Of course. I am a Cumberbitch. Spent Valentine's Eve watching my BBC downloads of Sherlock.

  2. Hi, Reine!

    I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Scout last week, having dinner with him and Reine. He's a lovely man, and I can see how and why you fell so hard for him.

    Ah, the frisson. I had it once, and it almost took me down a very troublesome path. It was really hard to resist, but oh, my, my silly heart. It would never have done.

    For lovely V-Day silliness, check out the Google page today. Adorable. And the key to "what women want".

  3. This is my Facebook status for today:

    "Eight years ago today I went for a wintry walk with a tall, funny man who showed me bluebirds (in Massachusetts in February!) and rescued me when I tripped on my bootlaces. And we're still together."

    But sure, I still get the frisson from some stranger from time to time, and I know I would if I happened to run into one of several old lovers. Ain't going to act on it, but it's a little fun. What's that saying? I might be married, but I'm not dead.

  4. My husband went out at 7 this morning and came back with two dozen gorgeous flaming tulips (my favorites) while I made him french toast (his).

    The best thing, he made me a valentine day card. It's SO dorky. Got up in the middle of the night last night to pee, saw the card, and laughed myself awake.

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  6. AW...HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! ooops caps lock..but I suppose it warrants it.

    Julia? Eeeyew. Just saying. That's so strange.

    Rhys, yeah, I wonder, too. I can truly remember that dream. SO funny. It's weird how sometimes they haunt you, they're so real.

  7. Yay Edith!!

    Finally someone other than me admits to a real life frisson (not with a movie star or politica figure, although Julia's dream was pretty interesting)

    Reine, that is such a sweet story. Karen, I'm off to google. And Hallie, I want to see the card.

    Happy Valentines Day Hank and everyone else!


  8. I told my husband about Julia's dream, and he said "really? Not George Clooney?"


  9. The chemical thing? Oh, yeah!

    I was once engaged to a Catholic monk (who was going to leave the order) for over a year of roller-coaster rides. He'd gone to all-male Catholic schools since kindergarten, gone to seminary at 13, took his vows at 15--basically never had an adolescence. I was a divorced mom of 3. He was going through the high school passionate "I love you--I can never see you again--I can't live without you" stuff on a monthly basis. I was an adult emotionally and finally walked away (tearing my heart to shreds as I did it). Best thing I could have done. (Though my kids sometimes still refer to the "mad monk.")

    Happy Valentine's Day< Reds!

  10. LOVE everyone's stories. Love that Reine is also a "cumberbitch." :-)

  11. Wow, Linda, I hope you worked THAT into some of your novels.


  12. okay - so, I don't "think" Donald reads Jungle Reds . . . .

    I have always, ALWAYS, been attracted to lanky guys with dark hair and a beard. Even when I was married to guys who were not lanky, nor did they have dark hair. OR a beard.

    So, yes, I did a bit of a swoon when I met Donald and then he made me laugh. And he has made me laugh practically every single day since, almost 27 years later. And he still makes me swoon.

    As far as some of those other little rushes of pure heat, not to be denied - well, is there a soul on God's green earth who is not aware of my crush on Lee Child (me and every other woman who has ever met him - right?!). And he doesn't even have dark hair. OR a beard. But oh my, he is lanky.

  13. Can't say it was truly a 'first sight' moment, but we met in late October, engaged in February, married in August, and it'll be 43 years in August.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  14. Okay, in my favor, this WAS Al Gore back in the early nineties. He was pretty hot back then, if you like smart preppie boys. Remember his wife putting out that photo book with all the snaps of him shirtless? Just sayin'.

    (I can just see me getting a visit from the Secret Service over this...)

  15. Don't worry Julia, My old room-mate (very liberal politically) had an inexplicable attraction to David Stockman.

    I can see the lanky thing. The beard....not so much... but I have this weird thing for chins and jawlines.

    Terry, 43 years. You look too young for that. :)

  16. Hey, the heart wants what the heart wants.

    How else could I explain my big crush on Gene Wilder?

  17. Kaye, I'm with ya. I try to resist the attraction of Lee, I know I should. But--sigh. No can do.

    Yes, I'm drawn to professorial types. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. Leslie Howard as Pimpernel Smith. Even--Morse.

    Julia I'm sorry. I'm all about preppy but there's nothing you can say. And the no-shirt thing made it even worse. :-)

    HA HA my captcha is VICES
    Terry, that's wonderful!

  18. "you worked THAT into some of your novels."

    Ha! Not yet, Jan. Probably one day, though.

  19. Be still, my heart.
    I fell for Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon and Two Mules For Sister Sara. Could not get enough of Clint!!

  20. I admit to a weird crush on Christopher Walken --

    but that was right after The Deer Hunter and although not completely diminished by Saturday Night Live.


  21. Have any of you met Robert Crais? He is beautiful! I saw him at a couple of readings when he was starting out-whew! I'm a little older so the young Kenneth Branagh, lots of Irish guys-some kind of connection there. Ex-Husband when I met him, after 20 years not so much. Sigh :)

  22. May not be the right day for this guy to tune in to Jungle Red lol :) Fun to get women's points of view on romance, especially for my future books!

  23. Very serendipitous, I say, John! The Reds are delighted to be your consultants, any time!

  24. Did I forget the frisson? Here it is, then. Scout returned to his job in Kansas day after New Year's. His nephew - of napping bedroom fame - invited me to see a display of his black-light show in said bedroom. Fortunately the sight of the bag he was packing for the trip back to boarding school frissoffed my frisson. Today he looks like Scout's twin.

  25. Ok here is my confession...
    I experienced a frisson first couple of times I met a new friend's husband. OMG. talk about beating a feeling down! The poor guy, I wouldn't talk to, or look at, him first couple of times we got together. Of course, friend and I have been very close for a bazillion years now, and the feeling is WAAAAY over but scary.

    And then a guy I met in the mall one time. Just turned around and there he was, and I was almost knocked to my butt by the pheremones (sp?) .

    First time I met my hubby, I was instantly attracted...but I thought he was one of those BMOC jerks. He isn't; just looked like one. :) 27 years later!

    Secret crush besides George Clooney?
    Scott Glenn. Something about him in "Hunt for Red October"...

  26. PS Happy VD all!

  27. Lora,
    Happy Valentine's Day to you, George, Scott Glenn and your hubby!