Life in Wood Hall after the Woodlings have been put to bed:
Mrs. Wood types away on her Macbook and then stops to giggle. Said giggle interrupts Mr. Wood’s viewing of Behind the Scenes of the Making of the Documentary about Joshua Oppenheimer’s Third and As-Yet Unfinished Film about Indonesia. Or maybe it was Shaqtin’ a Fool’s “Best of JaVale McGee” Special.
Regardless of the program specifics, the giggle caused Mr. Wood to hit the pause button and ask, “I’m trying to watch something profound about the psychology of death squads.”
Or if it was NBA TV that he was watching, “JaVale’s basically the Danny McBride of NBA big men, and if I can’t watch this in silence I’m going to miss the subtleness of his next move.”
“Just something on Facebook”, says Mae.
Mr. Wood sighs, rolls both eyes, nods his head dismissively, and taps his beer bottle. He’s about to commence a lecture about societal decay, the damage of screen time on relationships, the phoniness of online friendships, the inanity of romance fiction, and the bankruptcy of 21st century prose style, when genius strikes.
This is no minor genius, like Charles Goodyear, but more of a Nikola Tesla-level genius thought.
“Why don’t you do a Mr. and Mrs. Wood read the Classics, as in romance classics, series as part of your Hog & Hops group.”
“Pig & Barley,” chimes Mae.
“Whatever. You’re obsessed with that review of the dino-rotica book. We can’t top that, mainly because there’s not enough romantisaurus fiction out there. But, we could do really good MST3K-style reviews of romance books.”
“We’re not having sex tonight, Mr. Wood”
“That’s not what this is about. I’ll get to that ploy later. Anyway, I’d love to take down contemporary books, like that book about a mistress auction you thought it would be funny to read together, but ended up being creepy and sad, not amusing. But if we did that, you might end up offending people. Some of your readers who enjoy all ridiculous tropes of the wider genre would feel insulted, and it might make its way to the USA Today 'Bestselling Author' responsible for the mockable fiction.
"Next thing you know, instead of several hundred dollar years, you’re talking about tens of dollars years. Then it would be on to the next hobby, and the Facebook hours would slowly morph back into Neiman Marcus hours and Barneys hours and Boden hours and Nordstrom hours. You know the routine. So, we’ve got to grab some old paperbacks. The ones with the cool covers. No shirtless guys. No cheap photography. No fluorescent type.”
Mae nods in hopes of getting Mr. Wood to stop rambling about pectoral muscles and ripped bodices. Please hit the play button on the remote, she thinks. Her wishes probably won’t be satisfied with a mere nod though, because next thing she hears...
“And another thing, while I’m on the topic, don’t you find it laughable and beyond hypocritical that the same women who spend hours with their noses in Kindles and bemoan fat shaming and want life to be all about happiness and people liking one another for their personalities, turn around and drool over “man candy” photos on Facebook. Look, you can’t one minute say that it’s unfair that the world wants women to look a certain way, and I’m not talking skinny per se or large breasts specifically, but just a certain way, and then the next minute place such a high value on guys who clearly use steroids and shave all of their body hair. Total double standard. In my opinion, these women, and I’m not saying it’s you, cause I know that you’re all about the writing aspect of this and have no interest in looking at pictures of oily men, have a choice: either (1) stop objectifying men, or (2) keep objectifying men and concede that in a world where women want to be “shown the bulge”, it’s okay if guys expect women to check certain boxes, too. Mind you, I’m not endorsing the latter, just saying that you can’t have your beefcake -- do they still call them that? --and eat your cake, literally, with all of its calories, too, or at least not without putting in the work at the gym like these models, actors and athletes. Fortunately, you agree with me about all of this.”
So, after she hits like below a photo of Ryan Gosling and types “I love a man who knows what to do with his hands” under a photo of a half-naked sculptor, she finally says, “That’s a really good idea, Mr. Wood. You find us the books and we’ll make this happen. I hate to take up any more of your TV viewing time, so I’ll try not to giggle any more over here. Oh, and the next few nights will likely be out, too.”
“We’ll see about that. Glad you understand the brilliance of this idea. Your readers will love it.”
And so she thought it would end, until a week later when a small manila envelope arrived with Yours to Command by Mary Burchell.
TO BE CONTINUED
PS - Plus One, Mae's latest book, it's legitimately not bad. If you're reading this blog, you'd probably like it.