Suzanne Reisler Litwin: Where has the romance gone?

A very long time ago I dated a guy who lived in Quebec City. I liked him a lot. This was so long ago that I described him to my friends as being groovy!

On the weekends, he would drive to Montreal in his golden eagle Tra‎ns Am. When he didn't come to Montreal, he would call me on the phone. If he couldn't call, he would write me a letter. Not just any ordinary letter, a love letter. I still have them. In one of his letters he wrote that he envisioned us “In a gold carriage being pulled by white horses into a sky destined for love”. I blushed from that line. It has stayed with me for over (gulp!) 35 years. That was romantic writing.

Where have all the love letters gone?

Now that regular mail has been sadly relabelled as "snail-mail", I suppose the notion of sending such a private love note doesn't exist anymore? Has the art of writing love letters been replaced by sexting? I really hope not.

Mail is amazing. It's private. It's from me to you via a mail carrying person with no Internet insecurity. I love my mail carrier. She's so lovely with her big smile and grand "Hello there, Suzanne". I like using the mail. There is an element of surprise at times and an anticipation of delivery. Mail is romantic. As Elvis would sing, "Just call me the US Male".

There is something to be said about privacy as being romantic. It seems privacy isn't a concern of our younger generation. It seems everyone knows everyone else's business because its social media-shared immediately. As though if you don't share, you're not inclusive.

Perhaps they don't understand what privacy is? I suppose they are growing up in an over-exposed world which might consider privacy an old fashion idea. It's not! Privacy is mysterious and that's romantic.

‎Travel used to be romantic, too. I remember travelling to Florida with my family when I was much younger. My parents used to make us dress up in nice clothing. ‎We had to look clean and presentable as we were going on an airplane. There was a certain dress and behaviour which had to be proper when travelling by air. Flying had a romantic cache to it.

As a family we went through the security checks and screening and then boarded the plane. The flight attendants were dressed so nicely and were so friendly. They enjoyed serving people. They were happy to have us onboard.

First we were offered a peanut snack and any drink we wanted. I had a Coke at 9 a.m. in the morning. I was allowed to drink a Coke in the morning when on a plane. Crazy!

Then we got a meal. A tray full of beautiful food. A salad, main course, bread with butter, and a dessert. I was offered more Coke if I wanted some. Everything was placed perfectly on this tray. I loved the structured organization of the food, utensils and condiments. It was a perfect flying tray of food.

I was also given a colouring book and crayons and a pilot wing pin for good behaviour. I was also invited to visit the pilots during flight. That was freaky and so cool. Forget that now. Today's pilots are locked behind damper-proof doors and for good reason.

I was given headsets so I could watch the in-flight movie or listen to music. Flying was sexy then. Probably quite dangerous, too, as people were smoking in the rear section. What did we know? It was the 1970s and we were having a great time.

All that has changed and for good reason I'm sure. Terrorists have altered the way we travel and in doing so took away the glamour it had. Traveling isn't sexy anymore. Frankly, it feels violating at times.

The last time I travellled by airplane I had to go through security, which was completely violating and privacy stripping. Firstly, I had to take off my shoes, belt, jacket, scarf, and empty my pockets. Everything I was carrying had to be scanned. I felt naked and disgusted. Then my body was scanned. Eeeeeeewwwwww! Gross! I don't want people to see the silhouette of my body! I don't want people to see the shape of my hips and other things. That's why I wear the jacket and scarf. That's my private body and person. That was me on digital display for other people to see. Yuck!

That felt despicable. I got dressed with an aggravated attitude. Then I was asked by the border patrol why I was travelling. I said for a vacation. Really? Yes, for pleasure, fun, leisure, just a good time. My answer didn't seem justified. I'm just going to visit my friend to have a good time, I said.

I felt like saying, "I'm a good person! I'm an honest law abiding person. I'm a clean living person. Why do you doubt me? Why is there any doubt in your judgment of me?"

Finally, I got to the gate and onto the plane. I was told to download the airline app or I won't be able to view the entertainment. Luckily, there were earphones for purchase if I don't have any. You mean no free headsets and in-flight movie? I will need a credit card if I want buy the headsets and food. You mean no tray full of food? Can I get some crayons and a colouring book? What about a pin? I'm told you get nothing, without a credit card, Maman.

During the flight I got up to use the washroom. The flight attendant asked me to please remain seated during the bar service. I said, “Sorry, I've got to go to the washroom now! You will just have to manage around my dis-robed, scanned, underfed, not entertained; credit card-purchased yucky stale snacks, non-app using, un-romantic flying aggravated body‎.”

Some bumps and nausea later I arrived at my destination. Thank goodness my friend picked me up and she loves me. Love at last. With a bottle of wine in tow, we were off to our glorious destination for a girl-bonding weekend.

I understand the need to improve security in the wake of the terrorists who want to rob us of everything. However, I would suggest a mailed love letter to travel organizations with the hopes they can inject some romance back into travel. Certainly the fees for air travel could warrant a free snack or two and a deck of cards. It seems no one can be bothered to be pleasant, joyful, or simply love what they do.

I want the glamour and the romance back! I will continue to use the male. Oops! I mean the mail. I will sing Elvis in my head during the violating, privacy striping security dis-robing and scanning. I will read and watch romantic themed entertainment during my travels and still drink a Coke at 9 a.m.! I will do all this within my privacy. Oops, again. This is published.

I'm sure you get my drift, baby!

Suzanne Reisler Litwin

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