Romantics adrift in lost world
Romance is a red rose on a white pillow. Romance is a violin playing her favourite song.
Romance is the Tsing Ma bridge.
That's what the people behind the Rose Wedding Package Tour think anyway.
The tour was constructed by the Hong Kong Tourist Association and Shanghai's tourism office.
It's designed to help Shanghainese honeymooners 'experience the romantic side of the City of Life'.
Among the suggested activities: 'Take pictures by the Tsing Ma Bridge, the world's longest road and rail suspension bridge'.
The ad literature informs us that this is a 'trendy event' for young lovers from the mainland's second largest city.
Lai See was surprised by the discovery that the inspection of civil engineering projects had made it on to Hong Kong's official list of top romantic activities.
It got us wondering - are we missing something?
Are the SAR's lovers out there exploring whole realms of romance that Lai See has never even dreamed of?
Exactly what is the SAR's idea of romance?
To find out, we read through a discussion subject-headed 'Romance: A Lost Art' on corporate Web site Icered.com.
There we learned that romance is a meteor hurtling towards the earth in a film that doesn't star Bruce Willis.
Deep Impact appears to have had a . . . well, deep impact on local lovers.
Lai See admits to having foolishly dismissed this great romantic work as a piece of plotless rubbish starring a cool-looking tidal wave.
But discussion participants have shown us that Deep Impact possesses emotional depths that films like The English Patient can only aspire to.
'Tragic moments intersperse with truly memorable ones,' opined someone pseudonymed Uncelestial Being.
'I remember how Elijah Wood gave up a chance to live to look for the one he loved. Astronauts who made the decision to give up their lives so that the ones they love would have a chance to survive. Love is a very strange thing.'
Another Icered visitor agreed, describing Deep Impact as 'a very touching and moving cinematic experience'.
But the Most Touched And Moved prize would have to go to a woman called 'Tequila', who logged on to share this Deep Impact moment:
'My tears fell during the scene when Tea Leoni and Dad clung to each other as the tsunami waves came rushing toward them.
'Tea cried out 'Daddy' and I just died in my cinema seat. . .
'I remember telling my then-boyfriend that if it should come to that, I would want to be with him when it happens.'
All very illuminating, but Lai See decided it was time to branch out and explore non-meteor-based definitions of romance.
We concluded that the lonely hearts pages were the best place to look.
After all, it is here that the dreams of romantic searchers are captured in a few short words. It is here that we find descriptions of Mr and Miss Right.
What qualities are Hong Kong's love-hunters looking for?
It only takes a few such adverts to work out that the answer varies radically from one to the next.
HK Magazine's crop of romantics includes a British would-be Romeo in search of a punk rocking Juliet - 'any nationality. No stinky breaths'.
One enigmatic advert stars a man in search of a woman mysteriously described as 'age neglectful but dedicated'.
But our favourite lonely heart is a little more . . . original.
If you still need proof that definitions of romance vary, here it is:
'Sheer/100 per cent nylon socks admirer, early 30s Chinese man loves man in sheer socks or China made 100 per cent nylon socks. If you interest, call me so we can share this!'