Half a lifetime ago, an acquaintance walked up to me and handed me a worn paperback book. She thrust it at me in passing and said the book reminded her of me. I was caught off guard. We were nothing more than fellow employees so I was intrigued by what she meant by that. I looked at the book and noticed its imprint. It was a romance novel.
She took off, back to work before I could ask more from her, but she did yell over her shoulder that she wanted me to return the book once I read it. Since it was Friday and the weekend loomed ahead, I decided to read the book and return it the following Monday.
It was long ago but I remember the plot and the author’s name. It was about a single mother of three who falls for the hunky neighbor next door. Since both my neighbors were happily married and only one kind of fell into the hunky description, I figured that was not the part that reminded my fellow worker about me, besides there was no way she would know either of these two men unless she stalked my neighborhood.
I must have reminded her of the lead character – a single mother of three and her sad sack life: divorced from an abusive, freeloader of a husband, one who abandoned all responsibility onto the ex-wife.
How this woman knew my personal life is the bane of all small, tight working communities. Everyone knows the other person’s business and feels it is their right to interfere and offer counsel. Either this woman was offering me hope – I would one day find a hunky handyman and live happily ever after, or she wanted me to stop with the hangdog frump and get my act together.
I pasted a smile on my face when I returned her book and thanked her, not for the comparison to the protagonist, but for introducing me to Nora Roberts. She looked surprised, probably thinking I had missed her not-so-subtle hint, but unless she came out and voiced her insulting opinion of me, I wasn’t going to let her off the hook.
I now own about half of everything Ms. Roberts has ever written but that is because it does not include her J.D. Robbs’ books. My library includes first-hand and second-hand purchases. I even own an original copy of her very first romance novel that I found at a used book store. As a true fan, it means more to me that owning a diamond ring.
I have forgotten the name of the lady who handed me her worn out paperback, but that day is etched in my mind forever. I decided I would not wait for some handsome hunk to save me from my distress. I would save myself, thank you very much. Ms. Roberts would expect that from me.
And if I ever met a handsome handyman (shout out to HoneyBunch), he would love me for being the hero of my own story.