We went to see The Proposal tonight, with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, so I was excited to see it. The comedy part was great, but I felt like there was something missing in the romance. When the characters finally came together, it somehow didn’t seem believable. 

What was missing was an essential element in every romance: the Realization. The characters grew to love each other, but there was no distinct moment of revelation when they realized they were meant to be together.

The Realization is the moment when the hero and heroine look at each other and BAM! they’re in love. They may have been bickering for the entire first two-thirds of the movie or book, but suddenly, something clicks, and they know–they just know–they were meant for each other.

The Realization isn’t always simultaneous. Sometimes it happens to one character before the other, adding to the tension.

The Realization is Bogie’s “hill of beans” speech in Casablanca. It’s Lady and the Tramp eating spaghetti. It’s Heath Ledger with Jake Gillenhall’s shirt. It’s your favorite moment in every romance–and possibly the best moment in your own life, too.

I’m not sure I believe in love at first sight, but I do believe that love, when it comes, doesn’t strike subtly. It hits you like a sledgehammer when you least expect it, often at some absurdly inappropriate time, like in the middle of an argument, or while you’re watching your soon-to-be beloved drink milk straight out of the carton like a total cretin.

When books or movies recreate that moment, it gives you a flash of recognition, almost a feeling of déjà vu–because if you’re lucky, you’ve experienced that mix of panic and elation yourself, and it’s definitely a feeling you want to revisit.  

(image from Kovapete on Flickre. For more, see: