Okay…I have this problem. Everyone who knows me can attest that I have more than just one problem, but the quandary I wish to whine…I mean blog about today is about people coming to me to for “love” advice. And if not for advice, they just want me to listen to their “love” confessions.
Now, let me clear something up, it’s not as if I really mind this. Okay sometimes I even like it because 1) I might be able to use it in one of my books (hey, I figure it’s fair game, they know I’m a writer when they start confessing) and 2) It gives me ammunition when someone tells me that my fiction is unbelievable. Seriously, my fiction is down-right tame compared to some of the stuff I’ve heard.
Mostly my problem with the Dr. Ruth situations rests in the fact that at times these people expect me to just squint my eyes, grunt, and produce a golden-egg piece of wisdom that is going to solve all their issues. Or they expect to drop some confession on me, something a bit whacky, and they think I’m NOT supposed to react. And pleeaase, how am I not supposed to appear shocked when a person I thought was semi-normal turns nuttzo—and since my idea of normal is already skewed, when I say nuttzo, I don’t mean they just dance to a different beat, I mean they are at least a dozen fries short of a Happy Meal.
Let me give you an example. A while back a neighbor, who’d read Divorced, Desperate and Delicious, and obviously related to Hunky, the flirtatious FedEx guy in the book, met me by the mailbox and casually—as if something like this could even be given casually—informed me that she’d once sent herself a FedEx package and when Mr. FedEx showed up, she answered the door wearing nothing but Saran Wrap.
Now, just exactly how did she expect me to react? I mean, first of all, I really didn’t know this neighbor too well, and second I now had this image being tattooed in my head. Let’s just say, I was hoping the incident had happened several years back, because if not, it would have taken the extra-clingy plastic wrap, and a lot of it, to keep things lifted and residing in the presumed spot of origin. (Hey, things naturally go south.) And if that image wasn’t bad enough, my mind went on overload trying to figure out how the FedEx guy might have unwrapped the package if he’d so desired to do so.
I won’t lie to you, while I was both shocked and overloaded, I was still curious to know how things turned out. And when I finally was able to stop laughing and asked, she actually looked at me as if I was some kind of a pervert. Was I not supposed to laugh? Or was I not supposed to be curious?
Then there’s my third cousin. (I’ll call him Billy, and yes I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty.) For some reason Billy thinks that because I write romance novels, I’m his go-to person for “love” advice.
Now, Billy only calls me when he’s having woman troubles—which means he calls a lot. Let me be honest with you, this guy is no catch. (He’s not the guy for you, Gemma!) His idea of wining and dining a woman is picking up three beers, not even a six pack, and a dozen hot wings—if he has a coupon. I swear, for his second’s wife’s first, and last, anniversary, he had a wild pig he’d shot on his latest hunt, stuffed and mounted for her present. (Hey, what says I love you more than a stuffed pig?) But as lacking as Billy is, his choice in women is even worse.
And when Billy calls me up, broken hearted, and asks, “Why does every woman I love leave me?”I try to explain to Billy that married women, women who work in establishments that require clothes removal—and I don’t mean a career in runway modeling—women’s whose arrest records require more than one single-spaced page, women who have borrowed money for bail, or women who have a hard time remembering if it was their second or third husband who accused her of shooting him, well, these women might be a factor in his terminal relationships.
Of course, my neighbor and Billy aren’t the only ones wanting me to offer insight into the world of romance and relationships. And after several years of loaning a shoulder, trying to react accordingly, and offering up bits of wisdom, I began to wonder. Does writing romance novels make me savvy on the subject?
Hmm, I don’t know. But this I do know: if people put as much time plotting their relationships as I do in plotting a novel, I think people would have better relationships. Sure, people can change, and bad stuff can happen, but mostly I think bad relationships are about bad choices. Bad choices in people we entangle ourselves with, bad choices in how we deal with problems, bad and hurtful choices in how we treat the people we love, and oh, let’s not forget, really bad choices for anniversary gifts.
So here’s my question to you: Do people come to you for advice? And since most of you are readers, and some writers, of romance, do you think romance novels gives you insight into the world of “love”? Maybe you can share a bad anniversary gift you received. And if you’re brave and want to tell us about the craziest thing you’ve ever done to catch a man’s eye, go ahead. But please, no more Saran Wrap stories. I’m still trying to get that vision out of my head.
Crime Scene Christie