When I first met my husband, it was in a junior college literary course that we both accidentally enrolled in. Thanks to fate, who I credit for most of my life’s more interesting happenings, we both signed up for this journalism/lit class on a whim, last minute in order to fill our schedule up to the required full time 9 units.
He was the grungy, long haired, cranky yet sharp mess of a guy in the back of the room and I was the acid washed jean wearing, hair sprayed fluffy hair, fake frosty nail girl working at the local newspaper and Victoria’s Secret in the mall with the engagement ring in the front of the room. Not your typical love story couple, mind you. As I remember the story, he declared himself the Editor of the creative writing publication we were to work on for the semester and I became his assistant. I don’t think I ever stopped being ‘His Girl Friday’ now that I think about it. He was tricky that way.
The class became terrified of him as soon as we got to the critiquing part of the course. Each member of the class had to turn in five or more pieces of literature, short story, poem or piece of art that would be shared, discussed and then voted on. At first it was fun, seeing everyone’s ‘un-named’ submissions of all their good stuff that they were sitting on just for this type of occasion. Then we started mixing in the outside submissions from other students on campus. The pile got to be too much for us to deal with at one point and so we had to stop being so nice and polite and really start cutting the fat if we were going to make it to our deadline that was quickly approaching.
I was fine with editing a submission with a red pen and gingerly giving my advice or thumbs up or down for fear that the author was sitting next to me. Not so with our fearless editor. He’d slice and burn anything that was the least bit sappy, chick lit-like or anything that belonged in a cheesy Hallmark Card. It wasn’t unusual for fellow students to sulk or get moody after one of our editing sessions with him at the helm. On one occasion he actually made a student burst into tears and run out of the classroom. We believe she’s still traumatized to this day.
He just took his literature and the English language seriously, I thought. Then, I took out the rest of my feathery submissions from the pile and re-wrote them to make them more serious, more intelligent, less fluffy and more 'writer-like.' All my stuff was cut by our fearless editor within seconds. Now that I think about it, he didn't even read most of it, he just knew it was hopeless. The casualties that ended up in the circular file were all scribbled on, ripped up or just tossed aside as junk along with our little bruised egos and occasional tears.
Fast forward to today. I’m still “His Girl Friday” and he’s still the confident Mr. Cary Grant in that film. We went out for pizza and some beer one night and I start to tell him about a story idea that I have and the desire to write my first real novel. He looks at me and says “You know, I’ve never read any writing of yours.”
I burst out laughing and replied "Oh yes you did." He laughs along with me. “Well, not that I blame you back then, but we’re married – and have been for fifteen years. You have to trust me by now.”
The laughing stops. He’s right. He’s never read anything of mine, really. Why is that? He’s the go-to guy for everyone when it comes to writing, talking about philosophy, editing anything, talking over ideas late into the night about the Economy or the public school system or theology. I value his opinion and have always read his essays from all the projects he’s had all these years and have even helped him with some of his writings from time to time. Did I not consider myself a writer too?
“Fine. I will write something up – maybe a chapter for my novel and I’ll have you read it. You can be my editor, my assistant!” His eyes lit up as he happily accepted. It’s always great to share something in a marriage that you can enjoy, talk about or do together, but this was epic! The brutal “Mongolian Take No Prisoners Editor” from my junior college years is not only my sweet, loving husband but he’s going to be MY Editor for my novel!
Now, I ask myself, do I start drinking as a hobby now or do I roll with it and see how much fun this can be? I’m laughing at myself as I talk to him about my ideas for the book, why I came to this conclusion and coming up with plans as to HOW to write a first novel. It’s a daunting task for anyone, especially a beginner.
He magically transforms into the boy I met in that classroom all those years ago with the long rebel hair, the holes in his jeans and those god-awful worn out flannel shirts and reaches across the table towards me. “It’s not about planning, ideas and all that. You can write and I can help you. Write about what you know and write well. You can do this.”
My heart melts as I fall in love with him all over again, for the millionth time. He may be cranky, too smart for most of us at times and a bit of a critic, but I’m so happy he’s “My Guy Friday” and such a great and trusted assistant! If he keeps this up, maybe I’ll give him a promotion – to edit my next book and manage my fan base – if he doesn’t make them cry.