We recognize them in movies, in books, everywhere. The roses sent to the door, the heartfelt proposals, the picnics and long walks in the sand. We know them, we love them. We swoon right along with the heroine as the hero sweeps her off her feet.
But what about . . . the awkward moments?
The annoying moments?
The scenes that are tough, odd, or just plain un-romantic?
This type of moment is what my critique partners lovingly call The Pinecone Moment.
The Pinecone Moment got its name from the dinner scene in The Sound of Music, where the newly-hired governess Maria sits at the foot of the table . . . only to perch atop a prickly pinecone. She shoots to her feet, cries out, and basically causes a huge disturbance for this straight-laced family. Especially for the captain. The look in his eye is pure annoyance.
“Enchanting little ritual,” he says, sarcasm dripping from his poised voice. “Something you learned at the abbey?”
And it’s not the last time she ruffles his feathers either. Many more times, her quirky behavior stands in stark contrast to his whistle-blowing regimens. At some point or another, viewers could easily begin to wonder if this couple will ever find happiness.
But then an astonishing thing happens. As the movie progresses, we see how her quirks and wonder for life chip away at his curmudgeon exterior. And the best part? There’s a scene where Maria and the captain have fallen in love, and they’re standing in the gazebo, staring into each other’s eyes. He says one of the best lines in the movie:
“Do you know when I first started loving you?
That night at the dinner table when you sat on that ridiculous pinecone.”
Voila! The Pinecone Moment!
It makes me swoon just thinking about it!
Sometimes characters experience love at first sight. They’re both standing in the elevator and slant glances at each other, or they shake hands at a party and you can immediately feel the chemistry. Their “meet cute” is actually, well, cute. But some of my favorite moments in romances are those that aren’t so romantic on the surface. They showcase the characters’ flaws; they’re awkward, sometimes annoying, and leave at least one character vulnerable. But deep beneath the surface, these moments are building the characters’ relationship, giving them memories to laugh about later, and most importantly, showing how these characters act in everyday real life.
Everyone knows people act their best on first dates. We shower, maybe wear perfume or cologne, and dress in clothes that make us feel confident. We don’t tend to eat food like spaghetti, which is difficult to eat in front of someone new. However, Pinecone Moments show the real us. The moments that make us human. In moments where we are human, we are able to connect.
What about you?
Have you read/watched any great Pinecone Moments?
Have you written any?