Happy Valentine’s Day!
You might have noticed I’ve been gone for a while. Well, go figure, I’ve been busy! My copyedits for Long Simmering Spring were due a week ago, and Slow Summer Burn is due in a couple of weeks, so my time has not been my own. Plus, in between writing and editing, I’ve started working on another manuscript–something I’m really excited about! That being said, it is the day of love, and since I write books of love, I had to share at least a little something with you.
Last year, I started a new tradition which was to give an anecdote from my personal life and try to relate it in some way to romance novels. I intend to continue that tradition this year! Mr. B was a terribly good sport about last year’s post, and I’m hoping he’ll feel the same about this year’s!
Ready? Here goes!
Mr. Barrett is extremely funny. He’s a great joke teller and has spot-on referential humor, which he usually whips up in the half-second you’re using to finish your sentence. Also, he’s a whiz when it comes to world history. Like, a complete whiz. It’s mind-boggling. Personally, I’m not noted for my sense of humor. Nor am I noted for my prowess in world history. In fact, I’m kind of a dud in both areas.
Now those of you who know me IRL may say, “Why, Elisabeth, what are you talking about? You’re very funny!” All I will say is that there’s a big difference between being oneself and actually being funny. The difference, say, between laughing at me and laughing with me.
But back to the story. Mr. Barrett and I had been dating a few months when he moved to China for a job. “Will you come visit me?” he asked. Yes. Yes, I would. And so I did the bravest thing I’d ever done in my life and booked a ticket to visit a guy I hadn’t known all that long. (Which maybe is a story for another Valentine’s day). At this point in my life, my sense of humor was kind of stunted. As in not fully developed. And I am sorry to say that while I thought Mr. B was kind and handsome and intelligent, I had not laughed at even one of his jokes.
At any rate, one day after I’d joined him in Beijing, we took a trip to a small city called Kaifeng. We were walking around in some garden and I regaled him with a tale of one of my friends, an older man, who had a proclivity for dating much, much younger women.
“So in order to test whether or not they were worthy of dating him, he’d give them the Mao test,” I said.
“What’s the Mao test?” Mr. B asked.
“He’d just casually drop Mao Zedong in conversation, and if he was able to glean that they knew who he was, or even said, ‘China,’ the girl passed the test and he’d date them.”
“Huh,” Mr. B said. “I’ve never heard of the Mao test, but I have one of my own. It’s called the Ho Chi Minh test.”
“The what?” I said.
“The Ho Chi Minh test.” When I didn’t answer right away, he looked horrified. “Oh my God. You don’t know.”
“China?” I offered.
“Uh, no,” he said.
I had no idea what or who Ho Chi Minh was. I swallowed. “Does this mean I fail the test.”
“Yeah,” he said. “It does. Guess we should take you back to the airport now.” He ran his hand through his hair and sighed. “I just wish I’d given you the test before you came out to visit me.”
I stared at him. He stared back. “Are you joking?” I asked.
“I would have taken ‘Vietnam,’” he went on, deadpan. “Or ‘Communist.’”
“Okay, I get who Ho Chi Minh is now, but you’re joking about me failing. Right?”
He let me stew for another minute before a little half-smile curled on his lips. “Yeah, I’m joking, E. I don’t care if you know who Ho Chi Minh is.”
“Oh,” I said relieved. “Then I don’t have to go home.”
Then he started to laugh. Then I started to laugh. Then he laughed even more. “Seriously?” he said. “This is the first time you’re actually laughing at one of my jokes. The Ho Chi Minh test? God.”
“You’re really funny,” I informed him.
Mr. B is a pretty urbane guy, but I swear he really said that last line.
Over time, I gained more of a sense of humor and now laugh at all of Mr. B’s jokes, and in fact, a few times I’ve been rewarded when after a joke of my own, he informed me that the student had surpassed the master. I will confess to still being hopeless at world events.
But the real takeaway from this story is that it’s not just in romance novels that opposites attract; this kind of attraction happens to real people, every single day.
I wasn’t funny; I knew he was. I liked that. I stink at the blues and yellows in Trivial Pursuit, Genus Edition; he rocks. I liked that, too. And over time, I picked up some humor, and we learned to divide and conquer when it comes to Trivial Pursuit (I take most sciences and all literature and arts, at which Mr. B is completely awful). The differences in our temperaments, personalities and yes, even knowledge bases makes our relationship interesting.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope yours is filled with sweetness and love!