Friday, September 23, 2011

How My Parents Met

Mark met Melanie online, through a friend. It wasn't a romance. Not even close. The connection was professional. Or at least creative. Both were writers of fiction. They exchanged some Facebook comments about their work and eventually shared their stories with each other. Their conversations were funny, flippant, sharp and clever, but only mildly flirtatious. Each needed feedback from the other about the craft and effectiveness of his or her work. Each agreed to become beta-readers for the other's new stories.

They lived in different states. All of this was on the Internet. They hadn't met in person. When Melanie came to Mark's town to visit old friends, they agreed to meet in a local coffee shop, finally in person, each with a laptop, each ready to write as well as exchange ideas.

Mark knew what Melanie looked like from her Facebook icon, assuming it was a recent photo and more or less accurate. It was, but Mark was surprised when Melanie walked in, briefcase in one hand, books in the other. It wasn't that he was expecting anything. It's just that, well, she looked great. He knew she was smart--very smart, judging by her stories. He knew she had a great sense of humor. Everything she did and said expressed that. What he hadn't expected was how incredibly sexy she was.

That, of course, was a problem for him. How could he concentrate on writing, on creating a new story on the fly while sitting here next to her? How could he keep his head down and keep his eyes off of her amazing face and body and concentrate on the craft of writing?

He tried. After a bit of chatter and slightly embarrassed smiles, they both sat quietly, eyes on their laptop screens, considering. Listening to the muse that would start their respective short stories. Or so it seemed. Finally Mark looked up at Melanie and was surprised to find she was looking at him too. He waited for her to speak first.

"What?" she said.

"What? What do you mean?"

She said, "I'm sorry, it's almost like you're thinking out loud. Is it your story? What's bothering you?"

"My story. Yeah." He glanced down, considered for an instant. Realized it was not going to be possible, and would be pointless, to try to fool her.

"Okay, yeah," he said, looking back up at her. "Here's the thing. I can't think about my story right now."


"It's, uh, embarrassing. I'm embarrassed to admit why."

"Well, tell me. We're here to write, right? Let's talk through whatever is blocking that, if possible. Then let's write."

"What's blocking that for me is you."

"Me?" she said, brows furrowed. "Why me? I'm not doing anything."

"See, I told you it was embarrassing. I don't mean you really. Me. It's me. I just didn't expect you to be .…" He stopped.


"So attractive. So damn good looking. So sexy."

She held his eyes but said nothing for what seemed a long time to Mark. "Okay," she finally said. "Thanks. I get it now. You're distracted." They both glanced away and nursed their coffees for a moment. "Can you just get over it so we can get down to writing?"

Mark said, "Maybe. I don't know. You can. Maybe I can. I know I should be able to anyway. Direct this energy into my story somehow."

"Right," she said. "Okay then."

They each turned their attention to their laptops for a few minutes. After typing a bit, Melanie looked up again. "Hey. For what it's worth, I'm having the same problem."

That's all she said. That's all Mark needed to hear. He pushed his laptop cover down out the way, stood halfway up, leaned forward, and kissed Melanie on the lips. Slowly. Gently. Lingeringly. She didn't pull away, didn't resist.

The rest is history.