Love is . . . designer bags and cars

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 February, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 February, 1998, 12:00am

I'm not in love, but I'm open to persuasion . . .' croons Joan Armatrading in Love and Affection. I know what you are thinking: diamond necklaces, Prada bags and the latest BMW Roadster.

Well, not quite.

The kind of persuasion the British singer and songwriter had in mind was more along the lines of dancing cheek-to-cheek, singing a love song 'with a little dedication' and romancing.

Romancing? Now that is an unfamiliar concept in Hong Kong.

I recently asked a friend when was the last time she saw anything romantic here.

'Leonardo DiCaprio trying to save Kate Winslet from hauling herself off the bow in Titanic?' my friend says.

I replied: 'No! Anything romantic, not funny.' Besides, that's a movie so it doesn't count. What about in real life? A quick reality check on recent headlines reveals: 'Jealous husband's paper cutter attack', 'Boiling oil poured on husband' and 'Man chopped boyfriend of cheating wife'.

Romantic? I think not.

The fact is, Hong Kong people are not particularly romantic.

Most prefer to make money - not love. Even today (St Valentine's Day or the Lovers' Festival) reeks of blatant commercialism.

You know what I'm talking about: 'Buy a Be My Valentine bouquet, T-shirt, teddy bear and lingerie now, and get a video on Sensual Sexual Touch free.' I know people would buy the lot just to get the video.

Do people really know what St Valentine's Day is about? Having checked an encyclopedia, I know St Valentine's Day is not about: a) a Roman priest and physician who suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Claudius II Gothicus, or b) the Bishop of Terni, also a martyr from Rome.

Rather, February 14 is about getting sick on chocolates, tacky advertisements and hours of excruciating viewing of soppy movies because there is nothing else showing on television. Last week I came across this 'blurb' for a book series on romance and it said: 'That love, so gentle in his view should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.' After reading that, all I felt was not love but hundreds of goose-pimples rushing from under my skin screaming: 'Oh yuck!' Another thing I do not understand is why people watch soppy movies such as Gone with the Wind, Endless Love and Love Boat The Movie: A Valentine Voyage? There is a genre of romantic movies in which love is not really love unless it is deadly tragic.

For example, despite its title, Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing is about a doomed love affair between a Eurasian doctor (Jennifer Jones) and a war correspondent (William Holden) in Hong Kong during the Korean War.

The film has a Kleenex-grabbing climax but what is so splendid about that? How many times have you come across the following scenario in romantic films: Scene: Bed. Time: After a passionate session of love-making.

Lover A: 'Oh Lover B! We can't go on like this! I must tell you the truth! I'm dying!' Lover B: 'Oh no! I've just gone through a bitter divorce and bought a multi-million-dollar flat just to be with you. I'll die with you.' My friends always hate watching these movies with me because half-way through I start asking why the lovers are not dead yet.

In reality, love is a rather strange business.

You can always tell when someone is love-struck.

They look kind of . . . stupid, always wearing a big grin on their face that even a power tool could not remove.

I have a friend who walks into lamp posts a lot when he is in love.

In fact, when men fall in love they start doing things that they normally would not do, such as whispering down the phone, checking their reflections (even on cutlery) every five minutes, asking whether they have bad breath and buying lingerie.

When women are in love they just cry a lot. (But why?) But is being in love really worth celebrating? After all, love induces hours of insomnia. Love is to decide whether to call or not to call.

Love is selfish and mar fan (troublesome).

Love (especially in Hong Kong) is gong kam ng gong sum (let's talk about gold not the heart).

Call me a cynic but I believe love is a complete waste of time and money.

Maybe I'm just not very romantic.

Maybe I'm not in love.