Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Old Flames

This week I made arrangements with The Romance Studio website for an interview that will appear next month, and agreed to focus on my first published novel. The Resurrection of Captain Eternity is a very obscure contemporary romance read by few, but it has a handful of die-hard fans so I like to think it’s decent. Well, since I was going to have to talk about this book, I thought I better reread it quick since it’s been a long time.

Captain Eternity was revised and released in 1998 but in fact I originally wrote it in the early 90s, and it takes place in 1990. That means the title character, whose real name is Fritz, is a guy I fell in love with almost two decades ago. The whole book is a real nostalgia trip, as there is much reminiscing in it about the 70s and of course a real 80s sensibility to it. Maria, the heroine is slightly younger than myself birth-year-wise but her personal history is in many ways a peek into mine.

I hadn’t thought about Fritz aka the Captain in a long time. I still find the guy’s intensity, complexity and extreme self-confidence a little intimidating—but very sexy. It’s funny to be falling in love all over again with a man I invented myself, having forgotten in the interim what he was like. The imagination is such a weird place.

As I read Captain Eternity I have to reflect on other loves from my youth and consider whether or not the me of today would be likewise attracted to them. There are some infatuations that die off in the natural course of things, leaving you wondering what on earth you were thinking. But there are others that seem to abide regardless of the passing of years.

My last great crush of high school was on a guy named Mark. And after almost 35 years I am still not quite over this guy. Every couple of years I try Googling him again, but in spite of his not having a real common name, I can’t find out for sure what became of him. Frustrates the crap out of me.

Mark was an enigma. That was what hooked me on him. He was extremely intelligent and firmly ensconced in the “brains” clique, but he had shoulder-length hair. Now in 1974 only “freaks”—the kids who cared more about pot than grades—had long hair. I wanted desperately to get to know a guy who was all National-Honor-Society-and-Key-Club but had hippie hair. He was also cute in a geeky sort of way, and had a great sense of humor.

I was obsessed with this kid all of my senior year. You know how it was when you were seventeen: if the guy you liked spoke to you, it sent you reeling with joy for the next 24 hours. I remember one basketball away game we both attended right before Christmas break, when Mark oddly made a point of seeking me out and wishing me Merry Christmas. It was my best Christmas in years just because of that.

I know it seems odd that I fell so hard for a guy merely because he was “an enigma.” But keep in mind that being enigmatic is very sexy. There’s nothing like an inexplicable mystery to draw you in (just ask Maria). And, for me at least, when that mystery involves the integration of two apparently opposite qualities, it’s all the more sexy. Especially to a teenager raised as I was. I was a classic “good girl” just a handful of years into puberty, trying to make sense of human nature at the tail end of both the Sexual Revolution and the Vietnam War. I’d spent quite a few years trying to avoid the dark and scary things in life, but was just discovering that sometimes those things are very intriguing.

I was at ease with “brains”; but “freaks” frightened me. And here was this guy who embodied both. I couldn’t have possibly analyzed it this way at the time, but Mark was the bridge from my comfort zone into unexplored territory. He had managed somehow to be like me but also embrace the things I feared. Consequently he seemed a source of power and enlightenment and fascinating erotic appeal. Not unlike Captain Eternity, really.

I suppose my ongoing yearning for Mark is due to the fact that the mystery was never solved, the enigma never explained. There’s nothing like lack of closure to sustain an attraction. Still, I’m sure were I to locate the guy and ask him to explain why he wore his hair long in spite of being one of the smart kids, he would look at me strangely and say, “I liked how it looked” or something equally non-monumental. I recognize that my adolescent imagination (which continues to serve me well today as a romance author) greatly embellished the character of Mark beyond realistic expectations.

I can only dream of finally finding him via Google and Google Images, and learning that he became a brilliantly eccentric mathematician who still has shoulder-length hair.

Ah well…at least my Captain Eternity remains the same enigmatically hot guy after all these years, and always will. See, this is why it pays to be a fiction writer.


Con's Blog said...

Holy Beeeejesus! You have NO idea how close to home this hits! ;~) LOL (laughing to keep from crying....).

About closure... totally agree. If only I could spend some time with Mr. X and see that he is quite boring and ordinary.... all would be well.

But till then... the obsession simmers!

Holy Crap!

Thanks for the great writing!


Diana Laurence said...

So, so true, Con...but in another way, I guess it's better we never know, so we can keep the dream alive and enjoy it! Sigh...