Monday, April 7, 2014

Where’s my Mills and Boon Hero?

Courtesy - Guardian.com



Mills and Boons made an appearance in my life around the same time my parents discovered their daughter’s rebellious streak. It started with saying no to pig-tails, frilly-frocks and the hair oil my Mom lovingly plastered my hair with and progressed to a war of egos. It was a phase of life that also came with the realisation that boys were not that disgusting and annoying and could make me blush with their strange glances. I was afflicted with an awareness that made me check myself in the mirror again and again, hoping that the gawky girl staring back at me would transform into a comely maiden capable of making men collapse with ecstasy with just a flick of her hair.

For me, it was a natural progression from Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. Mills and Boons was the holy grail of romance that teleported me to the world of Virginia as she sat beside Damien Savage, his chiselled, tanned features expressionless, his deep-blue eyes hidden behind Versace sunglasses. Still shocked at the intensity of her physical reaction to him, Virginia longed to be undressed by him; to feel his skin against hers … As she moved her body closer, her leg brushing his muscular thigh, she felt his heat.

Many tiny explosions of pain later, where Virginia gets kissed, mauled and manages to see all the stars and constellations, Damien the brute, who treats her like his sex slave admits that he’d been in love with her from Page 5 but took 300 pages to confess so that the author could pay for her vacation in the Bahamas.

I was hopelessly lost in the world of the lean and hard muscled hero, who was tough, brooding, single and insanely wealthy. His bed would unvaryingly have black satin sheets, which the object of his lust would discover on page 65. But underneath that scowling, tough as a coconut shell demeanour lay a softie, tortured by a secret past, waiting to be reformed by the slavish love of a virginal damsel with long legs and cascading blond hair.

Didn’t we all wait breathlessly for the dashing Damien Savage with a taut torso and tanned arms to sweep us off our feet, wilfully ignoring the awkward advances of smelly Shomit and buck-teethed Manish! How could we, they were nowhere near the fantasy we’d fallen in love with! Instead we chose to have a boulder sized crush on the unattainable school hottie, who couldn’t be bothered by our presence. We loved wallowing in misery because that’s what Virginia would have done!


We religiously hid these paperback fantasies in our Chemistry books, inexorably drawn to a world of never-ending love, where the men were strong, rough and hopelessly romantic, the women virtuous. It was our drug of choice, an escape from the world of math, exams, demanding parents and “I hate myself, I’m so ugly” angst.

Strangely, these mythical creatures were nowhere to be found in real life. If they were silent and brooding, they were mind-numbingly boring. The strong-silent type was emotionally challenged. If he was drop-dead gorgeous, he fancied himself as God’s gift to mankind and they were all broke and Mama’s boys. You wanted to be treated like a Princess, instead he wanted you to treat him like a King.

The first kiss was nowhere near what you’d imagined it be. Your kissing captor had too much saliva and didn’t taste as sweet as he smelt. You strained your ears for the orchestra that was supposed to play but all you heard was his breathing. You waited to be consumed by tiny explosions and all you felt was his bristling moustache.

I feel our loss of innocence coincided with the realization that a Mills and Boons hero exists only on paper. Maturity descended upon us with the discovery that the euphoria of new love comes with an expiry date and the happily ever after requires understanding, compromises and mutual understanding of each other. Black satin sheets look sleazy and there’s more to life than being his object of fantasy. If he’s short of breath, it’s not you in your slinky green skirt but his asthma playing up. It’s not desire but his sore throat that makes him raspy. And, he’d rather have you tied up in knots than get tied down.

If you ask me, today’s generation is no different. Their heroes are as dark as they are brooding, only this time they are the underdogs, hiding their extra-long canines and their love for fresh blood. The women are still willing to go any length to rescue these lost puppies with their unwavering love, even if it means turning into a sexy vampire.

If there’s a girl in us that wants to be cherished and protected, the evangelist in us wants to alleviate the fallen with our affection. This is why generations after generation of women fall for the bad boys because deep inside we think that our pure love will be enough to turn them into a new leaf. But that’s not the truth, is it? In real life, they hurt you, make you cry and leave you broken. And the nice guys are left wondering why they always end up getting friend-zoned.

But nice guys should thank this much envied species for making us realize their true worth.

Trust life to instil in us lessons than no pulp fiction can. It teaches us that the only thing that comes in between us and our chance of romance and happiness is our unrealistic expectations.

Real life heroes are the ones who brighten us and not blind us with their halo. They are protective but not possessive. They make us soar and not tie us down.

And if he’s lean and hard muscled, tough and tigerish and makes you laugh in his deep baritone, simper, growl whatever and grab him with both hands. Just make sure he shaves his moustache.




Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers


74 comments:

  1. SO SO true... There was a phase when the world was pink-tinted. Then I grew up and took the sunglasses off :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Life and its lessons, it's up to us what we want to learn from them :-)

      Delete
  2. NOW I know why I remained single - Not enough of a bad boy :P I have a sore throat but no asthma. I am dark (well - that used to mean only black hair) or was when I used to have hair but neither tall nor handsome :) BUt, above all, I lean towards niceness, if anything and THAT made me a wimp and not boyfriend material :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being single has its advantages, you get to experience what most of can only dream of. But then I'm not saying that being in love is a bad thing either :-)

      Delete
  3. Hehehehe.. those black satin sheets on Page 65 would make the heart flutter then, if they were to come in our lives now all we would 'groan' about would be how impractical they are, what with them needing to be dry cleaned instead of washing etc :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoever came up with black satin sheets has obviously never lived in India :D

      Delete
  4. You are so right about the first kiss! More often than not, the hero was called Damien Savage.
    Fifty shades of grey tried to revive the old formula and succeeded some what. Though not in India.
    And LOL for men collapsing with ecstasy with a flick of the hair! Enjoyed reading this as I was nodding all along.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For over two years "Fifty Shades of Grey" was my ice breaker with women I barely knew. I met "50 shades" enthusiasts at the most unlikely places - Book launches, sedate parties. And most of them were Indians :D

      Delete
  5. Off late been hearing so much about Mills and Boon - Need to check out one sometime. And Stephanie Meyers too. Romance has always been an alien subject to be - both in fiction and real world. But can relate to the post - reality is different from fiction is almost every aspect - as a fiction writer - I myself would not represnt truth as it - fiction is about exaggerating some elements and supressing others to make it interest to the reader. Reality makes no such effort.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Fiction is about exaggerating some elements and suppressing others to make it interest to the reader. Reality makes no such effort" - what a lovely line!

      Don't waste your efforts on Mills and Boon, you'll end up rolling on the floor clutching your stomach!

      Delete
  6. Wow....nice one purba!! "'Damien the brute, who treats her like his sex slave admits that he’d been in love with her from Page 5 but took 300 pages to confess so that the author could pay for her vacation in the Bahamas"......hahahaha!! I am still laughing hard!! Have never been a Mills and Boon fan as I am not much into romance genre when it comes to books.....but yes, what you have stated about the real world and the book romance holds quite true....beautiful post! Keep writing!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Narayani.

      Even though I outgrew Mills and Boon aeons back, I don't mind the occasional chick-lit.

      Delete
  7. So true. I nodded and nodded at every line. Mills and Boon, our sojourn to the world of fantasy. i wonder though why it can't be reality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best ones are either taken, gay or too annoying :/

      Delete
  8. They say that women smell the levels of testosterone, when they fall for those rugged looks with broad shoulders, for at that point they are playing 'natural selection' thinking of a strong progeny, already. In men they look for strength they themselves don't have. Like a 'protector'. Blame it on Discovery Channel. I swear!
    I don't know. I don't like muscles and broad chests for where I stay, 9/10 the bod looks good but the head is a nest and the mouth ... don't even ask.
    I liked M&Bs, deceiving as they were. About nearly everything to do with romance and all its cousins. Oh, and the mooch is not allowed in my house. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And so do men. Precisely why women of certain proportions are seen as more desirable.

      It all boils down to the most primal need to procreate with the fittest :-)

      Delete
    2. 'twas the smile that done me in...

      http://sloword.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/the-chemistry-of-love/

      Delete
  9. Love this fun Mills and Boons, Purba. I have confession to make: I have read M&B since I was so curious what the girls find in them. Love the linesnd the nice guys are left wondering why they always end up getting friend-zoned. ..hehe! from a nice and single guy..lol who choose to remain single, unattached and unmarried:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most men have and they have the innate talent to open the book at page 129 where Virginia is quaking with desire.

      Delete
  10. In spite of having an M&B context, you said it absolutely right - that unrealistic expectations are the root cause of all the miseries. We elect leaders, choose life partners, invest in stock market, educate children, get into the railway toilet..everything with an unrealistic expectation and then ultimately get disappointed. Had we set our expectations correct, we would be as happy as the leaders, the partners, the children, the company bosses, Indian Railways ..all those whom we counted on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahaha, Santhosh. You always end up making me laugh. Railway toilets indeed :D

      Delete
  11. There is a time in life to enjoy every phase including the one of M&B times, where fantasy matters more than reality! You have refreshed the memories with the ever colorful strokes of keyboard, Purba:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you liked it, Rahul :-)

      Delete
  12. Ahh I thought I had fallen for a bad boy but he turned out to be a good boy soon after...Thank God I'm saved :D

    Random Thoughts Naba

    ReplyDelete
  13. I read Mills and Boon books in high school for two major reasons. #1 I was reading anything and everything around me; a totally and unabashedly promiscuous reader I was. #2 this girl I wanted to chat with 'em. So I studied them and could discuss the doctor / nurse formula of Betty Neels, whether the Portuguese/Spanish hero was realistic or not and compare the writings of Violet Winspear and Anne Mather.

    I oscillated between 'stcahe and no-stache until a few weeks after the wedding, I've been clean shaven since.

    As to what actually attracted my Beloved Bangalan to me - I remain mystified.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You got me at "clean-shaven". I thought you were a woman!

      And you are the first and possibly the last human who read Mills and Boons as literature. No wonder, your Bangalan fell for you hook, line and sinker.

      Delete
    2. Hmmm......Does my writing make me come across as feminine? I must ponder that point in a post to be posted presently.

      Delete
    3. No, blame your avid interest in Mills and Boon :D

      Delete
  14. hehe Mills and Boons was such a phase! Builds up the expectations and makes reality seems so ordinary. I'm glad that phase was over too soon :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup - for must of us it lasted till we crossed our teens.

      Delete
  15. Haha ...Could almost relate to each word there. It takes ages to realise there isn't that "...and they lived happily ever after"! Lol. Reality though is as much nicer as this piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reality comes with grocery shopping, responsibilities, broke-days and arguments over who's right! I wonder why no one talks about that?

      Delete
  16. Wow...made me nostalgic:) And that mustache part was totally hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can so relate to everything in this post. Brooding is an excellent word to describe those Mills & Boon heroes, who were always seemed to be cruel and had a sophisticated, witch-like girlfriend in the picture somewhere. These were my staples from primary school (when I shouldn't have been reading them at all) until way into my teens. If these men exist, then they went into hiding ages ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even if they do, they come with chinks in their armour. Practical women are quick to realize this and don't let this unrealistic image ruin their chances for romantic liaisons.

      Delete
  18. Hhahahah I never likes Mills and Boon. I have like read maybe 3 of it and I have never liked it.I simply read because the girls of my age where. But I did find my imperfect guy and thankfully he does shave off his mustache! :D

    Great post yet again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My perfect one came with a beard and a moustache :D

      Delete
  19. Loved the in-depth analysis. I was always bored by the mushy M&Bs in my hey days maano ya na maano...they always seemed to lack substance. The girls were treated as sex objects and the boys behaved as though they were a bunch of the most contemptuous cat's whiskers. I believe present day M&Bs have undergone some change to cater to the market of 'thinking' and pragmatic youth. Since, I have not 'touched' one, I am not very sure or hopeful. And with the horde of Indian authoresses vying to be the next Yvonne Little or Margaret Whatever, I am sure there would be a heady punch of titillation and tear jerks to leave the readers all worked up emotionally and physiologically.

    Reading you after a long time. Enjoyed your cut-throat dissection after a long, long time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt if anyone read Mills and Boon for substance. They were more of pick-me ups and were great company for tedious journeys or that rare rainy afternoon.

      And I managed to read quite a few of them without buying a single one :-)

      Delete
  20. I got stuck on the black satin sheets ... and came to my senses on the "too much saliva and did not taste as good as they smelt" Too good Purba, too good. Missing those days of innocence of snuggling into my bed under the cooler, reading Mills and Boons

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure if we were happier in the world we had created for ourselves or as the person hardened by experience :-)

      Delete
  21. Outdid yourself once again, Purba. I have always wanted to be strong and silent, dark, muscled, brooding, speaking outrageous things. And about the first kiss and all the saliva, maybe you are right. I recall that the after my first time, the girl called me a 'suck-my-face-goober'. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only you had read Mills and Boon as an instruction manual, your kiss would have set a benchmark for generations to come.

      Delete
  22. It is all a lie....this love and other stupid emotions. Mills and Boon just puts dreams in the mind of young girls who are crushed once they realise that the world is different from what they imagined. This is a ploy by our alien overlords to ensure that humanity doesn't rise against them.

    P.S. The bearded look is making a come back. All your arguments are invalid!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please relocate to Mars and live happily ever after,

      Delete
  23. This is all hogwash, I don't believe you!
    To them their house of cards, I'm keeping my moustaches :D

    Besides, they come in handy in Delhi as a first rate filters of pollutants and irritants. :P

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohho! Why don't you write a post defending men's right to keep a moustache?

      Delete
  24. That is so true. including copies hidden in the Chemistry and Maths books. My Maths teacher knew and he used to suggest I put the book away when he wanted my attention. Sometimes my English teacher just banished me to the library knowing full well I was going to finish the novel there. And she a nun too. But I found out later she thought.. reading is reading.. never mind the subject matter. God bless her!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The library was my favourite haunt in school. That's where I made my best memories.

      Delete
  25. Even though it was frowned upon for guys to be reading M&B, I confess that at a point in time, I enjoyed reading some of them. But then like today Hindi TV serials, they all seemed the same. Outgrew them quickly.

    For me, the first idea of romance came from a novel which was supposed to be a children's novel - Adventures of Tom Sawyer :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most guys did but were too embarrassed to admit.

      And hats off to your vivid imagination that conjured romance from Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

      Delete
  26. Oh ya, I have read and enjoyed my share of Mills and Boons and currently have 2 unread ones on my shelf. Who said these books are just for girls? And yes, fact and fiction may not always meet, but they do cross paths and that's where reality seems so much like the unreal (and vice versa) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! And you get to know a woman's perspective and can always surprise her with your newly acquired wisdom.

      Delete
  27. I still read M&Bs. And now I write them too. What's wrong with fantasy? Many generations of Indian girls/women have derived their sex education from M&Bs. They are also the perfect escapist go-to after a hard day's work or while travelling. Having said all this, I must say the new lot of M&Bs is increasingly a number of sex scenes strung together with a wafer thin storyline. Lovely post, Purba, enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do love chick-lit - especially what Cecelia Ahern, Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella write. If the author doesn't have a sense of humour, the book doesn't work for me.

      And thank you, Mimmy :-)

      Delete
  28. I read M&B at school...and it was passed from one person to another secretly ! :D Like porn ! hahaha those were the days !
    I do not like clean shaven men. I like the moustaches stubbles goatees and whatever there is. We are Mallus !! We need the moustache to survive !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was our girlie version of porn - tame and lame and we still loved it :D

      I like them scruffy too. What to do, we are like that only.

      Delete
  29. They are like these hindi movies of the likes of Maine Pyar kiya. At that age it seemed so nice , now looking back i cannot imagine watching more than two three mins or getting past two three pages :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At that age, everything sounds believable. These days I can't even get myself to read Women's magazines.

      Delete
  30. Lol! you are right life is so different from these rom-coms and such romantic novels !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and we don't take too long to realize it.

      Delete
  31. I was catching up on all the Enid Blyton that I missed out on Mills and Boons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, the world of Mr Pink Whistle, Amelia Jane and Faraway Tree :-)

      Delete
  32. Hunks like those in M&B novels exist in the real world, though a rare species; it's a pity that such men are already taken.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always go for the man who makes me laugh.

      Delete
  33. wow.. great post.. specially about the first kiss..

    ReplyDelete
  34. ROFL And Clutching my stomach!!! Used the M&Bs as a stress buster or comic relief during exam time. There were a few in my class who when asked about the book they read proudly stated " Mills & Boons" with stars in their eyes. No offence meant, but I guess, each of us found what we were looking for in them. Cheers for that post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fantasy world of women comes with chains and bondage these days :D

      Delete
  35. This was truly awesome. I could connect with it too, and that makes it more awesome for me.

    'Real life heroes are the ones who brighten us and not blind us with their halo. They are protective but not possessive. They make us soar and not tie us down. '..so true!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And we all hope to find one, don't we?

      Delete
  36. LOL...you reminded me of my M&B love when I was in high school ;) My first crush was indeed a M&B hero (I still can blush thinking about it :D)

    ReplyDelete

Psst... let me know what you are thinking.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...