Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Dear Mr. X, I *heart* you!

Going to my reunion reminded me of what turns out to be my very first romance novel idea. I didn't know this at the time, of course. But when I was a tender teenager, I spent many a night putting myself to sleep by imagining scenes involving myself and a particular male teacher. I won't say who because some of my high school friends might stumble this way, and I don't want to embarrass myself or this poor innocent subject of my girly fantasies.

Thing is, the stuff I would dream about - the stories I'd use to keep myself occupied until I'd drift off to sleep - were different than fantasies in one key way. My story involved structure and plot. It wasn't simply a titillating what if Mr. X kissed me when I went to his classroom after school had gotten out? This was a what if Mr. X fell in love with me but was still married to his wife? What would happen if he tried to resist this attraction because it was so wrong on so many levels? What would happen if he couldn't resist, and years later, we happened to meet again?

In other words, my fantasies had all the elements of a romance novel. Conflict. Character growth and change. Escalating romance. Secondary characters. Angst and joy. Heck, even back then, long before the advent of iTunes and iPods, my story had a soundtrack in the form of The Police song "Don't Stand So Close To Me".

Of course, as a grown up I see how completely impossible such a story is when I try to think of ways to convert it to a real non-girly-fantasy novel with sales potential.

First of all, a relationship between a student and a teacher is such a taboo one in our society that it's nearly impossible to overcome. To my credit, even as a kid I understood this. In my dreams, I was already over the legal age of 18, and this teacher was a young guy, only a few years out of college, so that the age gap was as minimal as possible. Also, the hero of my youth-inspired imaginings did know how wrong his attraction was and fought it with a vengeance.

The second problem with my story is the fact that the hero was married. With a child. This is because the teacher that inspired me was married with a child. A child I actually babysat. I know. Eeeeww. Plus, totally different story involving love with the babysitter/nanny. Anyway, in my more-appropriate version of the situation, I had the hero and his wife in the midst of major marital difficulties. The wife, naturally, was not a deserving woman. So you really couldn't blame the hero for seeking love elsewhere.

A third obstacle appeared in the form of my knowledge, even back then, that a happily ever after for a girl of age eighteen with the first man she'd ever fallen in love with was not the most likely thing that could happen. In my story, the hero and heroine part ways only to run into each other at a party a good five years later. See, in my young mind, anything over the age of 21 was the perfect age since it contained vast amounts of maturity, and any happily ever after that involved marriage (of course) would be allowed because she wouldn't be some hillbilly teenage bride. Having five years pass was plenty enough to allow the heroine to grow up, the hero to become disentangled from his marriage (a job that involved a fatal car crash because at my tender years, I saw divorce as too great a flaw for the hero to have), yet not so much time that the two characters would have actually moved on with their lives by loving other people.

All of this conflict - the inclusion, analysis, and resolution - shows me now that even back in high school, my mind worked like that of a writer. Sadly I didn't see it for what it was then and thus wasted a whole lot of time and a college degree that could have been obtained in a field that might have actually done me some good.

And even though I now recognize the ick factor in my early story, I still can't let go of that first idea. I still feel that same thrill when I let my mind go back into those scenes, which in my world is the hallmark of a story begging to be written.

So, sorry Mr. X. You're still the object of my teenage fantasies. And if I become the writer I'd need to be to make it work, you may just become the subject of one of my books.

1 comment:

meljean brook said...

I think my long-standing desire for geeky heroes was first inspired by my 10th grade chemistry teacher.

And "Don't Stand So Close To Me" was my song too. I wonder if the Police know what they've done... *g*

Hmmm, it would be hard to pull of that kind of romance without a Lolita feel. The movie Never Been Kissed managed, but only kind of...there was still a bit of ickyness to it. But most of that ickyness went away because Michael Vartan is so freaking hot! (Or maybe it just went away for me :D)