Category Archives: Bad Writing

What We Leave Behind

My neighbor died a couple of weeks ago. He was an older man, and had been ill for a long time. I’d passed him in the hallway many times during my seven years of living in the building, and he parked his car two spaces over from mine in the garage, but we never had more than a nodding relationship. Over the last few years, he’d become markedly more hunched over and his forays outside of his own home were less and less frequent. Every now and again, the newspapers would pile up in front of his door for a week, and I’d wonder if he’d passed away. But then a few days later, I’d see him hobbling down to the mailboxes or out to his ancient Toyota Corolla with the Catholic radio bumper sticker.

According to the tribute posted in the elevator, Rudy had lived in the building for over 30 years, and died in the hospital with his daughter and son-in-law by his side. This is all I know about the man at the other end of the hall. I have never seen inside his condo, have no idea if he was a minimalist or a pack rat, if the appliances are brand new or 30 years old. I have no idea what he left behind for his daughter and son-in-law to sort through, to throw away, or pack up in boxes. We spend so much time behind closed doors, surrounded by the things we have collected. And then the moment we die, our treasured belongings become Stuff That Someone Else Has to Deal With.

I did a quick mental inventory of my own belongs: if I was hit by a bus or had an aneurysm tomorrow, what would my family have to sort through, throw away, or pack up in boxes?

Generic Teen Angst PoemThere are the sentimental items (photos, favorite books), the disposables (toiletries, condiments, laundry detergent), the donation pile (clothing, shoes, vacuum), and of course the I-hope-my father-never-see-these items (sexy underwear, certain adult toys, lubricant). But when I picture my family members opening up cupboards and going through my drawers, the thought that makes me shudder with dread is of them discovering the cardboard boxes of old journals, school notebooks, angsty short stories, melodramatic romance epics, and other horrifying remnants of my youth.

Sure, we all struggle to define ourselves and find our place in the world, particularly in our youth. But we don’t all keep detailed written records.

In many ways, everything I wrote in my teens and early twenties is just as significant as anything I write today. The preteen soap opera-inspired novels, the doom and gloom poetry courtesy of my world-weary fourteen-year-old self, the rambling notes scrawled to friends in Spanish class – these were precursors to all that has come after, up to and including this very blog entry. But this doesn’t mean that they should ever be exposed to another living soul. I mean, if reading them makes me blush while sitting alone in my own home, how would my parents react to such horrors?

I could easily solve this problem with a paper shredder, yet I can’t bear to part with these cardboard box time capsules. It would be like throwing away a big chunk of my life. And if we forget who we were, how will we know who we are?

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Are You Ready to Get Mortified?

Writing is generally a solitary experience. Whether you write at your kitchen table or in a bustling café, you are still alone with the words on the page. And while most writers intend for their work to be read, they are not often present when it is. In short, we don’t often get real time reactions to our work unless we hover over our readers’ shoulders. And that’s just, well…creepy.

Last year, I made the first big jump from the relative anonymity of the written (or web) page to a more public forum. Four times now, I have written and recorded personal essays for broadcast on public radio. But even in the studio, it’s just me and the sound engineer — an audience of one. While I’ve received a good deal of feedback post-broadcast, thus far I’ve listened to all airings alone and in the safety of my own home. I have yet to witness a “live” reaction.

So the next big step is a live reading. This both excites and terrifies me.

I love to attend live readings. Let me rephrase that: I love to attend good live readings. Or at least awesomely bad ones. Enter Mortified.

610-stage-frightFor the uninitiated, Mortified is a celebration of all things awkward teenager. At each event, several brave souls take the stage to read cringe-worthy poetry, song lyrics, love letters, and excerpts from their teenage diaries for the entertainment of the crowd. It is hilarious.

At the end of each Mortified show, the emcee puts out the call to anyone who may be interested in participating in a future show. A few drinks in and still wiping away the tears of laughter from my eyes, I always think: “Maybe I should do this. I have a ton of truly terrible teenager writing to pull from. Certainly, I could put together a good reading.”

And then I sober up.

In high school, my favorite subject was drama (literally and figuratively, ha ha). I both loved and feared taking the stage. During a performance, I went on automatic, and the play seemed to go by in an instant. If I’d stopped to think about what I was doing — essentially pretending to be someone else in front of my peers — I probably would have blacked out. But the post performance high was almost palpable. The adrenaline rush lasted all night, and I was immediately pumped for the next opportunity to get back on stage.

Of course, I was performing someone else’s play, someone else’s writing. At Mortified, I would perform my own writing. So there are two ways to bomb: in delivery and in substance. Then again, the beauty of Mortified is that the writing is supposed to be bad.

But what if my writing isn’t bad enough?

I’ve thought a lot about what I would read. For better or worse, I have a lot to choose from. As a preteen and teenager, I was a prolific writer: angsty poems, ranting hormonal diatribes in my journal, notes passed in class…oh and of course all of those mortifying stories about dating various members of Duran Duran.

Bingo.

A never-been-kissed 12-year-old girl’s take on sex and romance? My cheeks get hot just thinking about it. But counter-intuitive to all of my fight or flight instincts, I know that whatever makes me squirm the most is what will best entertain the crowd. And that’s what I’m there for, right? To play to the crowd? To get a reaction?

But to stand up on a stage in a roomful of buzzed people, spotlight on, hundreds of expectant faces peering up at me…

Dare I?

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The Gift of Bad Writing, Part 2

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. At least, it was my heart at age 12. Last year at this time, I shared some truly mortifying excerpts from one of the many epic love stories that I wrote in my pre-teen stalker years, this one about Nick Rhodes, the keyboardist from Duran Duran. I had yet to experience my first kiss, and my notion of relationships were largely informed by soap operas and romance novels. The painfully awkward sex scenes – and there were so many of them – make me blush to this day. At the age of 12, I seemed to think that any moment not spent fighting, having sex, or saying I love you was a waste of time.

Recreating a beloved Duran Duran photo at my 12th birthday party. I'm the one in the hat.

Recreating a beloved Duran Duran photo at my 12th birthday party. I’m the one in the hat.

This past weekend, I dug into the dark recesses of my closet to pull out another gem for your reading pleasure. The plot line is thus: My all-girl band is asked last minute on a six-month tour as the opening act for Duran Duran. Within hours of our first meeting, it’s clear that both Nick and Simon Le Bon (the lead singer) are madly in love with me. And so is my current boyfriend, Michael, who is also my band’s manager. But I know in my heart of hearts that Nick and I are destined to be together, if only we can shake these interlopers, including his girlfriend Julieanne.*

The following scene starts with me pressing a glass up against the hotel wall so that I can listen in on Nick fighting with his girlfriend:

“I just don’t understand! Today, all day, you were laughing without a worry on your mind! Why are you telling me this now? Who told you to say this?” I heard Julieanne’s voice crack as she began to cry.

“Don’t be ridiculous! No one told me to say this, except myself! Yeah, sure, I got advice from a friend, but there is no other girl involved, if that is what you mean!” He paused and added silently, so silently that I could barely hear him. “Well, actually, there is…another girl involved.” My heart sank. “but…she doesn’t know that she is involved.”

“What are you talking about?” Julieanne shrieked with a voice of horror.

“There is this girl, well, actually she is a young lady, who I am very deeply in love with, but she doesn’t know.” I gasped. Now my dreams were hopeless.

“Who is she?” Julieanne asked in a calm but wavering voice.

“No names are going to be mentioned. Anyways, she is very dedicated to this other clutzy guy and I have felt the way I do about you before I even met her! She is not the only reason I want us to cool it.”

“I am trying to be understanding, but what has she got that I haven’t? Is she just some blond flusey (sic) you picked up off the street one night?”

“Don’t you dare even say that about mutter mutter.” I didn’t hear the name. “She is beautiful, she is intelligent, I love her and she doesn’t even have blond hair!” I heard Julieanne whispering something about her changing his mind with one kiss but he screamed back at her.

“That does it! You are even going to stay in this room! I do not want to see you ever again! Take your bloody bags and get out of my life!”

I heard crashing noises and it was obvious that Nick was throwing Julieanne’s suitcases against the door.

“I…I…I hate you for this! Don’t you even come crawling back to me! And if your fluesy (sic) throws you out, you can always find a prostitute to fulfill your needs!” She ran out the door and slammed it behind her.

“God-dambed (sic) bitch!”

I give it about a minute and a half before I go over and knock on Nick’s door. Although consumed by jealousy, I am determined to find out who this fabulous woman he is in love with is.

“I heard you two yelling and after she left, I thought I’d come in and see how you were doing,” I said finally, but still nervously.

“Could you hear what we were saying?” For a minute I thought he knew I had been listening but then it dawned on me that he couldn’t possibly.

“No, I just heard mutters and screams.”

“Thank god!” he whispered under his breath.

“What?” I asked even though I heard loud and clear what he had said.

“Oh, nothing. I was just mumbling something to myself!” After he said that, that was when I knew the mystery lady was me! All of a sudden, I wanted to be held in his arms, kissed by his lips. I knew that if I stayed much longer, I would do just that and where would that leave Michael? So I said,

“I’ll see you in the morning!” and hurried out of the room. I got ready for bed and went to sleep quickly with a very smug feeling. He is in love with me, and I am in love with him, it’s great! Too bad we can’t express our love for each other. I frowned in my sleep at the thought.

I run off but clearly can’t stay away. I am back knocking at his door at 5:30 am:

“Uh, hi. Why are you up so early?” he looked as if he hadn’t slept at all. Not because he had bags under his eyes or anything. He just looked wide awake.

“I had a restless sleep and I suddenly awoke. I took a chance you might be up.”

“I didn’t sleep at all last night.”

“Why not?”

“I was just thinking.”

“About Julieanne?”

“No. There is something I have to talk to you about.” He took hold of my hand and pulled me to where he was sitting on the bed. He pushed my chin up lightly so I would look in his eyes. One arm slid around my waist while his other caressed the side of my left cheek. “I know we have known each other for only a little while, but I feel like I have known you for my whole life. I have been trying my hardest to cover it up, but I really like you a lot, too much to stay friends. I know how you feel about Michael, but I care for you far more than he does. Please, tell me you care about me the way I care about you!” He looked straight into my eyes, almost melting them into nothing.

I pulled his hand off of my cheek and placed it on my shoulder. “Oh, I do care about you! I care about you a lot, I just thought you liked me as a friend because you never really tried anything with me.”

“You thought that I didn’t like you and I thought that you didn’t want me to try anything. You always left before I could anyways.”

“I left because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop you if you did start and I can’t cheat on Michael!” I pulled away from him.

“Michael is a dumb-fuck! He doesn’t have any brains!”

I paused and was silent for a bit. “You know, you are right. He is a dumb-fuck.” I got up and walked to the door. I said, right before I closed it behind me, “If I can get Michael to go out tonight, you’ve got yourself a date!” I rushed down the hall and back to my room to scheme how to get rid of Michael.

Yes, folks, one minute I was too moral to cheat on my boyfriend and the next, I was hatching an elaborate plan to get rid of him for the night so that I could go on a date with my true love.

This story goes on and on for 591 hand-written pages. I know I teased the awkward sex scenes – and really they are some of the best parts of the story – but what if my parents were to read this? I don’t know if I could look them in the eyes again.

Okay, maybe just one. It is Christmas after all. (Sorry, Dad!)

We sat down on his couch. He leaned over and began to kiss my neck. I laid my arms around his back and rubbed my hands up and down. I kept rubbing with one hand and played with his hair with the other.

After a couple seconds, his hands slipped off of my neck and down to the buttons on my shirt. I closed my arms around his neck and pulled him to my lips. Before I knew it, he had my shirt off and was working to find the zipper on my pants.

Since he had practically got me in nothing, I decided it’s my turn to help with the strip tee’s (sic). I pushed him away for a minute.

“Lift your arms up!” He lifted his arms up and I pulled his thick sweater over his head. “You see, if we get caught, I don’t want to be only one with their shirt off, or pants, for that matter!”

“You’re crazy!” He said jokingly, and took his pants off. “Happy now?”

“I would be happier if you took off your shoes and we were doing this on the bed, not the couch!” We got up and went into the bedroom.

I sat up and put my hand over the clip on my bra. I slowly unclipped it and let my tits breath (sic) again.

“Wait a minute, I think I can do without these!” I reached under the covers, took off my lace underwear and tossed them on the floor. “Won’t you do the same?” He took off his underwear. I scooted up close to him and rubbed one hand up and down his hip, while I played with his hair with the other. “This is it,” I told him.

“I know,” he answered and put his lips against mine. “No more talk now, all action.”

“Yes!” He leaned over and kissed me. I opened my mouth wider so he could slip his tongue in and that is exactly what he did. He rubbed his hands all over my body and masaged (sic) my tits. I lowered my hand off his hip down and delicately rubbed around on his d**k (yes, I used asterisks). It didn’t take more than a few minutes before he was so hard up I thought he just might burst.

He started to say something but I put my hand over his mouth, “Shut up and make love to me!”

I pulled him onto me with my arms. We kissed passionately while he shoved himself into me. I felt so good all over and decided that this was real love. I reminded myself to tell him that I love him later.

Okay, I need to go crawl under a rock and wait for the flush to leave my cheeks. Happy holidays!

—–

*Real name of the woman whom he actually married – and later divorced – in real life. Oh how I loathed her…

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Quid Pro Quo?

Of the many milestones in the life of every novel, short story, or poem, one of the most crucial is the first time a writer allows his or her infant yet already beloved work to be viewed by others. At this key juncture, it is crucial to select the right early readers: literate, compassionate, and totally honest. They must be willing and able to provide specific, constructive feedback in a way that inspires you to keep revising*. In short, your early readers should either be people you trust implicitly, or who you are paying well.

So imagine my surprise when barely an hour after meeting Bill, the newest member of my writers’ group, he sent me a somewhat desperate email entitled “You are well read and I need help!” It said:

I am in a quandary and without someone’s input may have to stop writing until I’m clear. this clarity may never come. I would appreciate it if you would do me the ultimate favor and read what I have … and help me see clearly and focus my direction.

HelpEarlier that evening, the group critiqued an excerpt from Bill’s novel-in-progress about a man obsessed with reading the private diaries of the recently deceased. While his writing style was erratic and difficult to follow – shifting from short, stunted sentences to stream-of-conscious meanderings, and then back again, all within the span of a few paragraphs – his premise was at least interesting.

I’d given Bill what I hoped to be the aforementioned honest yet compassionate feedback that would inspire him to move forward with his work. But now he was asking me, practically begging me, to read and critique the entirety of his novel.

I am frozen, he went on. I realize this is an unusual and off the wall request but I don’t know where else to turn. my friends can’t help. thanks for listening.

I contacted the rest of the group to ask if anyone else had received a similar request. They had not. I wasn’t sure if I should take this as a compliment or feel a little creeped out. Had Bill been so impressed by my critique that he now sought out my unique wisdom? Had I perhaps led him on in some way, been too kind with my comments? Or was he simply desperate for validation, and I seemed the least likely of the group to tell him off?

While the credo of most writers’ groups is for the members to learn from one another, Bill’s distressed email didn’t sit right with me. I couldn’t help but feel a little used. It was like having a stranger at a party strike up a conversation with me only to then ask for an introduction to my best friend. It seemed that Bill was only interested in what I could do for him.

The following day, he sent another email. And then another, this time with his novel attached.

the tenses are all off and I haven’t had the time to do transitions but that’s what you get with a first draft. it’s only 137 pages a quick read. do I cut bait or fill in?

It was at this point that I wrote him back. I told him I was unable to help him, that my hands were full with my own projects at present. I encouraged him to set his novel aside for a little while, until he could come back to it with a fresh perspective. I did not hear from him again.

The other members of my writers’ group decided to rescind Bill’s invitation to join due to the quality – or lack thereof – of his writing and the fact that some thought he had been unnecessarily harsh in his critique of another member’s work. His emails to me, I was told, were the literary icing on the cake.

Although I was admittedly put off by his neediness, I still felt sad for him. We all get a little lost along the way, and can only hope that when we do, someone will be there to offer a helping hand.

———————————————–

* The alternative to revision is, of course, crouching in a dark corner and drinking gin.

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An Ode to Denny’s

Every suburb has one: that late-night, bad-coffee refuge of shift workers, frustrated poets, and bored teenagers alike. Zim’s. Lyon’s. International House of Pancakes. In my suburban hometown, it was Denny’s.

Denny's Then and Now

My hometown Denny’s Then and Now

A few days ago on my way to visit an old friend, I drove past the Denny’s of my youth. Except it wasn’t there anymore. The building remained, but the illuminated rooftop sign was gone. From across the freeway, I could see the discolored patches on the roof and walls where the cheerful signage had long beckoned passersby to get off at the next exit and come on in.

In my teenage years, I probably spent more waking hours at Denny’s than I did at home, especially on weekends and during the summers when curfews were relaxed and setting an alarm clock for the morning was unheard of. Denny’s wasn’t a place I ever planned to go to, but I always seemed to end up there. It was open. It was cheap. There was nowhere else to go. And most of my friends were already there. Countless times, I eavesdropped on conversations over the stalls in the bathroom only to realize that I recognized the voices:

“Oh my god, John Gorman is so hot in black jeans!”

“Jenny, is that you?”

“Oh my god, Lisa?” (followed by a round of echoing giggles.)

Never underestimate the power of the Mini Moo.

Never underestimate the power of the Mini Moo.

My friends and I gorged on chalky milkshakes and oily grilled cheese sandwiches. We learned how to hang spoons from our noses and build French fry sculptures. We slipped coffee mugs, long-handled spoons, and ashtrays into our purses. We had creamer fights with the Mini Moos* and on a few occasions, were asked to leave for being too loud or too messy or (I suspect) just for being annoying. We drank a lot of coffee, and then couldn’t understand why we felt so shaky and nauseous, why we couldn’t get to sleep…

I recall one evening in particular when my friends and I were a little short on cash, so in lieu of leaving a reasonable tip, we scrawled onto a napkin: Some Tips For Our Waitress, followed by such colorfully reinvented idioms as A man in the hand is better than two in the bush. Certainly our waitress was thrilled by this wit.

When we finally peeled ourselves up from the vinyl booths and made our way home, amped up on coffee and nicotine, I would smoke cigarettes out my bedroom window (sorry Dad!) and stay up until dawn writing absurd short stories about demonic rose bushes and killer cucumbers. I wrote fearlessly and without regard for others. I think it was during this time in my life that I enjoyed writing the most: unfettered by worries about getting published, wondering if my time would be better spent doing something else, or questioning if my writing was actually any good. None of that mattered. I wrote because it was fun. Period.

Although I hadn’t set foot onto my old Denny’s faux tile floors for 20 years, I liked the idea that the generations of bored teenagers that came after me were still haunting those brown vinyl booths and thieving the signature coffee mugs. But suburban teenagers are different these days, so I’m told. A friend with two small children recently complained that she couldn’t find a high school student to babysit, since they all have internships and too many extracurricular activities.

So I guess teenagers don’t go to Denny’s anymore, which makes me a little sad. We have our whole adult lives to grapple with the burdens of ambition and responsibility, but only a few short years to eat bad food, to gossip with our friends over the bathroom stall, to stay up too late. To live fearlessly.

———-

* Prick a small hole in the center of the sealed cover and then squeeze the plastic cup. This will give you about a three-foot launch radius. Best to test this out in the backyard or the shower.

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The Gift of Bad Writing. Really Bad Writing.

On this Christmas Eve, I would like to give you all a gift. This gift can at once inform and mortify. It can inspire simultaneous tears of joy and dismay. It will reveal me to be a complete and utter dork. I give to you the gift of Bad Writing.

Nick_rhodes_poster_duran_duran

This poster hung right beside my bed. So dreamy…

As I mentioned in my previous post (A Backward-Looking Foreword), my early writing efforts focused largely around the fantasy life I had concocted for myself at the age of 12. In these stories, my occupation varied – I was a writer or a singer or a fashion designer, and, inexplicably in one, an aerobics instructor who had attended Harvard – but the object of my affection remained constant: Nick Rhodes, keyboardist for Duran Duran.

I have excerpted from one of these tomes (this one 454 handwritten pages and ending with a Q&A interview where Nick announces to the press that he and I are to be married at last) for your reading pleasure. Or horror. You can’t say I never gave you anything.

Getting ready for a big party where “all the famous actors, actresses, and even rock stars” will be in attendance (and to which I was personally invited by my good friend Cyndi Lauper):

I picked out the fanciest and prettiest dress I could find. I don’t have a lot of posh dresses because I only make a moderate sum of money. Working as an aerobics teacher, I can’t expect to (sic) much. I picked out the best looking dress I had, a beautiful white lace evening gown. It was strapless and made my figure very flattering.

I always knew how to arrive in style:

 While driving to the huge mansion in which the party was to be held, I put on one of my tapes. It was Power Station’s Bang a Gong, Get in On. I turned it up really loud and opened the windows enough for everyone to hear the blasting music but not to (sic) much that it would mess up my hair.

Getting scoped by my first celebrity of the evening:

Somebody tapped me on the shoulder about thirty seconds later. I slowly turned around and found Philip Michael Thomas of the American show, Miami Vice. I froze, and stared into his eyes, dumly (sic).

“Hi,” he said. He kissed the top of my hand quite elegantly. I was very impressed by that.

“My name’s Lisa,” I said.

“You’re American? Then you must have seen my show.”

“Many times.” I replied with a confident and assuring smile.

“Even though this music is not the best,” he motioned to the soft idiotic orchestra playing in the background, “but…would you mind a dance, or two?”

“I’d love it.”

I rested my chin on his shoulder and gloried in the fact that I was actually touching Philip Michael Thomas. 

But I was fickle:

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Nick (Rhodes) was looking at me. Actually, it wasn’t looking, it was more like watching. I blushed and turned my head so I couldn’t see him anymore. But, I couldn’t keep my concentration off him for very long.

Alas, I was a shy young thing and left the party a la Cinderella before Nick could sink his rock star hooks into me. Days later, he showed up at my front door:

To my complete surprise, I saw Nick there, waiting for me. He was wearing a grey suit with a pink shirt, and a grey tie. Pretty dressed up compared to my bleached, tight jeans and white beer-stained half-shirt.

“I’ve been trying to call you ever since Saturday night,” he explained. “I was wondering if you wanted to go out some time.”

“Sure, anytime,” I said instantly. “But how did you find out where I live, my name and my telephone number?”

“I can find out anything if I want to.” (not creepy at all)

As with many romance novels, describing what everyone is wearing was clearly more important than developing a plot:

I showered and dressed in a white pair of pants and a low cut, short sleeve pink shirt. I stepped into a white pair of leather flats and put my hair in a French braid…I heard a knock at the door. There was Nick, he was dressed casually in a white jumpsuit, and a red pair of shoes. I decided I was dressed properly and slowly opened the door.

During our first date, we break the rule of not talking about dating while on a date:

“This may sound a bit weird and straightforward, but I’m dying to know, uh…do you have a boyfriend?”

“None serious. I guess you could say I’m dating, trying to get into the swing of things around here.” I explained, with a smile. “How ‘bout you?” I asked hesitantly.

“Well, there is one that I date when I need to take someone with me somewhere, but we have an open relationship so to speak,” he answered uneasily. We pulled into the parking lot of a fancy restaurant. Nick turned the engine off and looked over at me. “We don’t really have an emotional attachment, if that’s what you want to know.”

Showing Nick my bedroom for the first time (can you say Fan Girl?):

I pushed the door open and sat down on the bed. I flung my arms up towards the walls. “Taa-daa!” Nick stared around the room. One wall was completely covered by posters of him, and one other wall was covered with pictures of Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper, Howard Jones, Paul Young, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Bananarama and Power Station. My floor was fairly clean, but my closet doors were open and advertising my clothes. 

“Interesting, very interesting,” he glanced at my micalaneous (sic) wall. “What about Madonna?”

I stared at him in horror. “Madonna? Ug!”

“I like her,” he remarked.

“Oh, gag! She is such a sleaze bag. I’ve never seen anyone more of a slut than Madonna! She gives women a bad name!” I exclaimed, disgusted.

Our first kiss:

“Do you kiss on the first date?”

“That depends on who I’m with,” I said teasing. He looked uncomfortable, so I added, “I will with you, though.” He smiled and put his hands on my cheeks. He leaned over close, so close I could feel his breath, and pressed his lips against mine. We kissed for twenty seconds and I never wanted it to end, but unfortunately, it did. Nick got into his car and shut the door.

“Uh…bye,” he said.

But then I spot Nick (that Playboy) out to dinner with another woman. Things get crunchy when he takes me to the same restaurant the next time we go out:

“I hope you wont be too mad at me, but I made reservations for the place I was last night. I kind of have a booth that is constantly reserved for me,” Nick explained.

Rub it in my face just a little bit more now! “I don’t mind,” I lied. (And then proceeded to put on my most revealing dress in an attempt to win him over.)

When we arrived at the restaurant, I got so many looks from jealous girls, and guys, it really wiped me out. We were seated at the same table as he and Tiffany were the night before. I could just imagine Nick showing up there every night with a different girl, but the thought made me sick to my stomach.

Despite his romantic gestures, I just can’t get the other woman out of my head:

“How’d you meet Tiffany? Do you like her a lot? Do you think she’d prettier than me?” I interrogated.

“Hey, slow down.” He opened the car door and let me in. “One question at a time. I met Tiffany at a party a month ago. She’s pretty nice, but kind of an airhead, stereo-typed dumb blond.”

“Do you think she’s prettier than me?”

“Not by a long shot!”

I start to come around, but then he takes me to his eleventh floor penthouse and makes his move, the Cad:

“Do I get a grand tour?”

“Sure,” he turned around and slid his arms around my waist, “but that’s not what I had in mind for right now.” He leaned over and gave me a warm kiss.

“Aw, come on. We’ll do that in a while. You can wait a few minutes, can’t you?”

“Okay, fine.” He impatiently showed me around his extravagant flat, making a point of showing me his bedroom. By that time, I was really beginning to wonder if all he wanted was to get me in bed. Maybe all his sweetness was just a cover.

Later: While we were kissing, he began to unzip the back of my dress and push it down. “I…I don’t want to uh…go all the way right now, okay? I’m just not ready yet,” I explained nervously. “Do you understand where I’m coming from?”

Nick is not impressed and gives me the cold shoulder. But my demure ways win him over in the end:

“I didn’t expect to hear from you again,” I said.

“Why not?” he sounded surprised.

“After last night, I thought you were pissed off at me,” I told him.

“Oh yeah, I was at first but after I dropped you off, I got to thinking. I do understand why you stopped me, I’m just used to having women jump at the chance. I respect your decision. But…that’s not the reason I called. I wanted to know if you’re busy this afternoon.”

And a romantic walk in a park is all it takes to win me over again:

“You’re pretty special yourself, you know,” he said and looked right into my eyes. Nick moved his hands onto my cheeks and bent over to kiss me. We stood there for about ten seconds until he pulled away and said, “I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll remind you. I really like you a lot. I don’t want to intimidate you or anything, but in a few weeks, I think it’d be a possibility for me to feel much stronger about you, maybe even…”

Love? I thought. Or is it to (sic) soon for that? Damn, I wish he would finish his sentence! “Go on,” I encouraged.

“Love you,” he finished. I gasped and smiled.

“I think I might be able to feel the same way about you, too…in a while,” I told him.

  

One of my first book covers

One of my first book covers. Hand-drawn, of course.

Love is in the air on we’re only on page 59 out of 454. Many hi-jinks ensue, including copious extremely awkward sex scenes. Money problems threaten me with an unwelcome return to the United States. Nick whisks me off to his villa in France, where his bitter home-wrecking ex-girlfriend shows up to cause trouble.  I accidently ingest drugs and spend a confusing afternoon wandering the streets of Paris. I am assaulted while trying to scare off would-be muggers. But in the end, our love is too strong to be felled by such trivial matters.

Okay, I think I need a strong drink now. Merry Christmas!

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