Cinematic Romance Disorder

I have come to the conclusion I have Cinematic Romance Disorder. How do I know this? Because when I was only 7 years old, I asked my neighbour (who was only 6) to kiss me. He did. Then I became angry and looked at him as though he’d betrayed me.
“That’s not a kiss. Kiss me like they do in the movies.”
He tried again.
I just stared at him, my face full of disappointment and disillusionment. As he jumped up, he fell, and something sharp cut his arm. Bleeding and crying, he ran down the lane to his house.

This is how I know. I cannot help but measure life against cinema. I remember another kiss once where my purse slipped off my shoulder and fell. My boyfriend ruined the moment by stopping kissing me and saying, in a practical fashion, ‘aren’t you going to pick that up?’. The cinematic moment would have been that he never noticed the purse dropping. When I cook dinner with someone, I want it to be like that scene in Annie Hall, you know where they’re trying to cook lobster? Watch it if you haven’t, you’ll see what I mean.

I fight my disorder, I do, but inevitably, some kind of cinematic reference will pop into my head in any given moment. I would be not be lying if I said that reality can be quite boring to me.

You begin to understand this disorder?

What is the antidote?

There is none I am afraid. It can only be poulticed by writing.

Just for fun, come along with me for a moment and we can escape together into this scene.  We won’t speak afterwards, but we will have felt more, and that, my friends, is all that is important.


Almásy is in the bath. Katharine, wearing his dressing gown,
pours in a jug of steaming water. Almásy leans over the rim
of the bath. He’s sewing, carefully repairing the torn

I’m impressed you can sew.


You sew very badly.

You don’t sew at all!

A woman should never learn to sew,
and if she can she should never
admit to it. Close your eyes.

That makes it harder still.

She pushes the sewing from his hands, then pours water over
his head, then begins to shampoo his hair.

Almásy is in heaven. The biggest smile we have seen from
him. She continues to massage his scalp.

When were you most happy?


When were you least happy?

(a beat)

Okay. And what do you love? Say

What do I love? I love rice
pudding, and water, the fish in it,
hedgehogs! The gardens at our house
in Freshwater – all my secret

She rinses his scalp, then slips off the robe and CLIMBS IN
BESIDE HIM, covering his neck and shoulders in kisses.

What else?

Marmite – addicted! Baths – not
with other people! Islands. Your
handwriting. I could go on all
(a beat)
My husband. Almásy nods.

What do you hate most?

A lie. What do you hate most?

Ownership. Being owned. When you
leave, you should forget me.

She freezes, pulls herself away, out of the bath, looks at
him, then SLAPS HIM VERY HARD across the face.

She picks up her dress, the thread and needle dangling from
it, and walks, dripping, out of the room.

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