Romeo and Juliet – Kiss By the Book: Let Me Count the Ways – Part Three.

by |February 2, 2010

I am no Romeo.

I haven’t the courage to live by my heart’s direction, I haven’t the self-confidence to assume my love will be accepted, that I will be desired in return…

Each of my actions is measured. I live by committee, a committee dominated by the anti-me league. I express a desire and they debate it. By the time an agreement is reached, the object of my desire has either moved on, married and had children, or died of old age. Not that it would matter as the committee invariably decides that due to my toxic personality or the pimple on my forehead or the squeak in my voice that I should not act on any desire ‘until further notice’.

…Whilst Romeo just throws himself into it.

When Juliet says: You kiss by the book.

Does Romeo crumble? Does he run away? Nope, he just keeps storming the citadel.

I on the other hand  instantly recall the neat line drawing on page 35 of The Art of Kissing and sigh, ‘Yes, yes, I do kiss by the book.’

We cannot all be Romeo, we are seldom ever, Juliet – we need a little help.

As we sail together towards Valentine’s Day, having explored the coasts of Romantic Love and Unrequited Love and having dodged a detailed exploration of the reefs of Forbidden Love and Self Love, we must pass by the desert island known as Love By the Book.

Many a Romantic Robinson Crusoe has been washed ashore here. When Friday comes, and you’re home alone, there is a temptation to pick up the self-help book your mother gave you, and flick through its pages…

The cry – Why doesn’t anybody love me!? -which, moments before, threatened to burst forth, is suddenly exchanged for a sigh of relief and then laughter as you realise that there must people far worse off than you if this guff sells and sells and sells.

The true power of a self-help book will not be found in its pronouncements, no, the true power of a self-help book is in its tone – it takes itself and the issue at hand very seriously, which means you don’t have to.

Love By The Book maybe the least glamorous of the many varieties of love – and one I do not recommend taking too seriously – but when the chips are down, and we all face these crises of confidence, an IKEA –  put tab A into slot B – book of love can lift the spirits when vodka and a repeat viewing of The Notebook have failed.

The best lesson they can teach you, is how to laugh at yourself.

Five Very Different Guides to Love:

  1. Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus
  2. He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-excuses Truth to Understanding Guys
  3. Nancy Friday’s Beyond My Control: Forbidden Fantasies in an Uncensored Age
  4. The Five Love Languages Singles Edition
  5. Textbook Romance
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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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