Boy Meets

24 February 2002

Last night I was talking to Timprov about work, and it struck me once again that I rarely, if ever, write boy-meets-girl plots, or even subplots. It's not that I don't have characters who are romantically involved. It's that their involvement doesn't really qualify as a plot -- they're either already permanent, or I don't give them particularly many obstacles. So we came up with the traditional obstacle list, ways in which boy-meets-girl (or boy or three-armed alien squid) plots are complicated:

1) Society doesn't like it. This one goes all over the place -- racial reasons, religious reasons, prior commitments, taboos, all sorts of dystopian contrivances (the Bureau Of People And Things is sending me to Sector 5!).
2) Family doesn't like it. Romeo and Juliet all the way down to meddling little sister.
3) Career gets in the way. The career military officer is transferred and his/her beloved can't/doesn't go with. The workaholic doesn't have time. Etc.
4) General personal idiocy throws everything off balance. This one actually gets mixed in with all the others. But if you're watching a Meg Ryan movie, you can be sure that it's a primary motivator. It also happens to the best of us in real life -- people who are perfectly wonderful are afraid that they're not good enough for the object of their affections. People who have found someone they really click with can't manage to get over their last disastrous relationship and commit. I don't mean to be judgmental about personal idiocy -- everybody has it sometimes.
5) Disability either gets in the way or appears to get in the way. Timprov's favorite example of this one was in the TV show "Life Goes On," in which one of the main characters falls in love with a man with AIDS.
6) "The Chase" is on: the Mafia is after one or both of the main characters. Or the Feds are. Or some vengeful psycho. Or the corporate goons. Whoever. The lovers would get together if only they could slow down long enough to kiss.

Of those six complications (got any more?), I would contend that only #6 is more interesting in a boy-meets-girl plot than in a committed relationship. And I guess that's the key here: I think that, from the outside, commitment is more interesting than romance. Sure, romance has the googly eyes and the hearts and the flowers and the walking three inches above the ground. And it's fabulous to be in love -- don't get me wrong, I'm rather fond of being in love myself, and I wish it upon absolutely everybody. But there are only so many ways to be unique in this regard, from the outside. Sure, it feels different from the inside every single time. But externally, well, did you ever notice how bored people get when you're newly in love and try to talk to them about it? There's a time frame of smiling "Awwww" and then after that, it's the glazed-eyed, "Uh huh...uh huh...really...uh huh."

But commitment, commitment is interesting. Because you're stuck (or if you're not stuck, it's a much bigger deal to get unstuck). There's more at stake. Family disapproves? Deal with it somehow. Society is making your lives miserable? Drop out, move to Canada, start a social revolution, whatever works for you, but fix it. Because there's an entire committed relationship -- a life, so to speak -- at stake with it.

I think this is one of the (many) reasons why I'll pick "Adam's Rib" over "Breakfast at Tiffany's" every time -- why, in fact, Katherine is my Hepburn of choice and not Audrey. (Also, because Audrey has style, but Katherine has class. But that's another issue entirely.) I'm a lot more interested in how people work things out once they've determined to work things out.

Also, there's a little annoyed voice in my head that sighs and says, "Again?" when the main characters start having birds suddenly appear every time they are near....

Yesterday I read Sherwood Smith's "Mom and Dad At The Home Front." It's free from Fictionwise, and I urge you to go download it and read it. Very good stuff. I loved it. It's worth more than I paid for it. Also I finished The Eagle and the Small Birds (informative though probably not specifically useful) and read most of Michaela Roessner's The Stars Compel. I like it better than I liked The Stars Dispose, but it's a dangerous book to read when you're not in control of when supper is on. The main character is a chef, and by 6:30 last night I was ready to kill for gnocchi. It's like the antidote to King Rat should you need one. Definitely not a diet book.

One of the things I've been contemplating about this journal is the title, whether I should change it. I named it when Timprov and Tim and I had an ism ring, which we now do not. So it's not nearly as appropriate as it once was, and perhaps I should change it. On the other hand, I have really no opposition to Morphisms, and I don't know that I have any pithy alternatives. ("Pithy Alternatives," now there's an idea.) Let me know what you think.

So. Mark and I are going to try another church this morning, and I'm going to work (and try to finish at least one story) and organize some more (although yesterday was fruitful that way) and generally take care of Stuff. Of which there is plenty, as always. I'd like to finish "Small Talk" tonight. If not tonight, then tomorrow. And I'd like to look seriously at our (and others') travel plans for the next month and a half. I got a letter from Liz in yesterday's mail, and I decided that there's no way I can write a YA SF story about Magic Squares (in math), especially not by the middle of next month.

I'm getting through it. A bit at a time.

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