Thanks to Jason, I just found my literary niche. I’m going to write Harlequin romance, but instead of being the typical oiled-adonis-fucks-heroine story, it’s just going to be realistic, awkward exchanges where people get mixed signals and stop talking just because they can’t decide whether or not to go forward. The story of the woman on the beach who finds herself in the thrall of an elaborate fantasy about what she realizes now is a fifteen year old boy she saw playing football, or the two coworkers who almost but don’t quite seal the deal at an office party and then start avoiding each other out of mutual embarrassment and shame (This one has a title already : Coworker Conundrum – From the Working Relationships collection).
There will be stories about people who can’t screw up the nerve to say something to a person in a bar, or that chance parking lot moment where you can’t tell if they’re waving at you or not so you just kind of half wave and then leave when you can’t see if they respond. The story about when you interpret something as having innuendo, and respond with an equally charged comment, only to realize you completely misheard the other person. The story of the long, painful distance romance that a young man has for a cashier at a book store, so he’s accumulated an entire shelf of books he doesn’t want to read just so he can talk to her sometimes. The story of a gay guy who won’t acknowledge it and spends all his time trying to figure out how to “roughhouse” with his guy friends without seeming creepy. A pair of haunted-by-the-constant-flow-of-time fifty somethings who are trying desperately to bring the spark back into their lives by experimenting with drugs and having awkward, depressing sex on the couch. Short stories about a guy with an erection he’s trying to hide during a meeting at work, hoping it will subside before it’s time to get up and leave. A secretary whose vibrator falls out of her bag in the car and she realizes anybody who walked into the front door of her office could have looked down and seen the comically oversized pink device on her passenger seat, next to an empty starbucks cup and a package of mint gum. The story of two young people who can’t quite remember if they had drunk sex on Labor Day, so they are always trying to prompt the other to tell them when the “first time” was. The gut churning moment that a couple who lives in a condo realize that everything you say in the bedroom can be heard, clear as day, in the living room of the next unit over.
This… this I can do.