Sunday, January 16, 2011

The "Meet Cute" by Joanne Kennedy

It's amazing how many beginnings, in stories and in life, are based on chance. A serendipitous encounter, a chance meeting, a happy accident -- life would be dull if it weren't for the curveballs flung by a playful universe. Just when you think you've got your life figured out -- splat! -- everything changes.


In romantic comedies, that moment is the "meet cute" - a situation that brings the hero and heroine together in a way that lets them clash, tangle, and ultimately fall in love. The "meet cute" is almost always awkward or embarrassing, and leads to conflict and hence, a plot!

Screwball comedies are the prime place for finding "meet cutes." It Happened One Night, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, Bringing Up Baby -- they all hinge on a start-up scene where the hero and heroine meet in a zany, unexpected manner and are irresistibly attracted despite the barriers thrown in their way.

The chance meeting feeds our fantasies because deep down, we want to believe that there's someone out there waiting for us -- the right person, the person we're destined to love. Coincidence and seredipity give us the feeling someone's pulling strings -- God, the Universe, or whatever power you believe in.

The other reason the "Meet Cute" works is because it requires a certain kind of man -- the same kind that makes a romance work. He has to be easygoing enough to roll with the punches of fate, and he has to have a sense of humjor. And he has to be "The One." Becuase the universe doesn't mess around.

But a "meet cute" is useless without a strong heroine. She has to be up to making the most of the moment, confronting problems head-on and giving as good as she gets. While the hero's initial reaction might be that she's a scatterbrained disaster waiting to happen, she shows a surprising amount of strength and earns his admiration.

That's why my heroines are strictly fictional. They're the woman I'd like to be, the suave, witty woman who follows banter with better banter.

Here's a real-life example for you. I met my husband while I was working in a bookstore. He was buying an Oprah book, indicating he was a sensitive guy. And he was -- well, some of you Casa babes have met my husband. He's kind of a babe himself.

I certainly didn't make the most of that chance encounter. Mostly I just stared at him all googly-eyed and nodded with my mouth half-open. When I finally managed to speak, I squeaked out something totally inane. He probably ran out the door thinking he'd just dodged a lunatic. I told myself I didn't care what he thought, because I'd sworn off men forever just a week earlier.

But if the universe was testing my resolve, I flunked. He came back and I managed to redeem myself and reveal that I did, in fact, have a voice and a brain. And the rest is history...

Was there a "meet cute" in your life? Did you make the most of it, and did it work out?

24 comments:

  1. Hi Joanne, I'm such a sucker for classic movies--from zany comedies to dramas and my fave--westerns. ;)

    I love the way you met your hubby...don't you love when fate and destiny get together and give you a second chance to make a good first impression?

    I met my hubby during our high school's production of West Side Story, and although I tried out for the play, alas, I didn't make the cut, so I volunteered to work as an usherette handing out programs, etc. My hubby-to-be was on break from college and volunteered to help out in the lighting booth. He still claims it was love-at-first-sight...although his first glimpse of me was not my face! LOL!

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  2. Hi, Joanne, I love HEA, which is why I write romance! But my non-HEA began with me giving my future husband-to-be the number for Dial-a-Prayer. When he called me up for a date after several days of not calling me after our first meet--it was at an Officer's Club swimming pool--he asked if I was dyslexic. I just started laughing, figuring I'd transposed the numbers. Sure enough, I'd transposed the prefix since we lived in different states 45 minutes apart. :)

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  3. Joanne, thanks for sharing your story about how you met your husband. Very sweet. I met my hubby at work. Yes, I know, an office romance! Thankfully, it worked out for us--17 years and counting. LOL

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  4. Yup. I was a brand new nurse and the night shift orderly leaned over the desk and said, "You got anything for me?" Meaning various orderly-type tasks, of course, but I was smitten. Turns out he was too. :-)

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  5. I love reading books with meet cute openings. ;-)

    Like tracey, I also met my partner at work. I like to tell people that it was a 'hot for teacher' situation - he was a student in a technology class I was teaching at our employer's corporate university. We knew OF each other, shared some mutual friends, but at a company with thousands of employees, we'd never actually talked. We made small talk during class breaks, and he approached and asked questions about topics I was pretty certain he already had a handle on, ratcheting up the adorable quotient. A couple of days after the class was over, I was drinking coffee and reading in the company cafeteria before work, and he asked if he could join me--even though I was wearing what I now know were the ugliest glasses I'd worn in decades. (shudder)

    Twelve years (and four or five pairs of glasses) later, he's still my sweet young thing.

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  6. Colleen, that's so cute! The college boy and the usherette:) Yes, it's nice when fate's on your side.

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  7. Terry, LOL! Dial-a-prayer - he must have wondered if you did it on purpose!

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  8. Tracey, I guess I could say I met mine at work too - I was the bookstore manager. The way we work these days, you almost have to meet someone in the office - there's no time to do anything else!

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  9. Cheryl, that's cute! Remember those old Harlequin "doctor" romances? They proved even hospitals can be romantic!

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  10. Tamara - good story! I love the part about "ratcheting up the adorable quotient" - I could just see him thinking up dumb questions to ask so he could talk to you.

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  11. Mornin' Joanne, Love the cute meet blog. As you all know, I'm a mail order bride, so the first time I laid eyes on my HEA was in the middle of the night. I was sound asleep with brush rollers in my hair (thought he was coming home the next day) and I didn't want to make him wait too long so I had a choice ... get dressed or take the rollers out. Rollers came out and hair was fixed when I met him in the cutest little pair of shorty pajamas and a matching pink robe with only one button at the top. He was at the bottom of the stairs and I walked right into his arms for a big hot kiss. So I was engaged before I met him, kissed before I heard his voice. His family made bets about how long it would last (running for six weeks to three months). That was 44 years ago!
    I LOVE crazy first meetings. In I Love This Bar, Jarod and Daisy collided right in the middle of the bar floor; in Hell, Yeah, Travis walked across the bar at the stroke of midnight and laid a big passionate kiss on Cathy.

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  12. I met my DH at work too. He was the construction manager on the remodel of a Racquetball into an indoor shooting range and gun club. He kept his blueprints hanging on the back of my office door, he used the phone on the second line, also in my office, and he was really, really cute.

    Once day I was going to the Golds Gym downstairs (where the only soda machine was) so I asked whoever was around if they wanted a soda. Stephen said yes, but he didn't have a dollar bill or change. No problem, I said and bought him a soda. The next day I was taking my morning soda run and again, asked. He pulled out his wallet to buy my soda and I waved the money away, and told him "I'll by the soda, You have to take me out to lunch." He stood there with his mouth open as I turned to go downstairs. After I came back up, he followed me to my office and closed the door. He said he'd really like to take me to lunch, but he'd already eaten. It was 11AM, "Who eats at 11:00 in the morning?" I do, he said. I get up at 4AM and start work at 5. So, okay, he took me out to lunch the next day, March 28th, 1989, our first real date was April 1st, we married November 25th 8 months later. That was a little over 21 years ago.

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  13. Carolyn, you and your honey are a regular romance novel! You win the prize for the best "meet cute." I can just see that in a book - but nobody would believe it could really happen! You're such a great pair - I guess mail order works just fine!

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  14. Robin, thanks for another great "meet cute" story. Sounds like you made the most of the opportunity and it worked out just fine!

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  15. Was anyone at RWA the year the did that montage of meet cute scenes at the awards ceremony? I loved that!

    There was a lot of alcohol involved when I met my husband, so I'm sure I thought I was acting a lot cuter than I was. We'll leave it at that.

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  16. My wife and I met several times before we met, and, though we're both from the Pacific NW, it all started at RWA National Dallas in 1996. I traveled with my now long-since gone publisher who wanted to prove that men could write sex scenes (I was one of the six males in attendance that year) and she had me read it to a roomful of ladies at a "Spotlight on." My wife went to Dallas looking for a publisher, was told to track down our event, but she missed it and bought the tape instead. She listened and thought, "Now there's a brave nutcase."

    I went on to be a TA for my publisher who taught at UW, and my lady-to-be became a student, in a different section. I spoke at one of her classes, co-taught a weekend retreat she attended, we bumped off each other half-a-dozen times. But she had a kid so I assumed she was married. She was told I had a girlfriend, by someone who wanted to be but wasn't.

    We finally, really met, when she answered a personals ad. I had posted it as a simple declaration to myself that I was sick of being single. She saw it because her friends forced her to try at least one more date before settling into single mom-dom. She recognized me from the ad. We met for cocoa and have been together for the 13 years since. I love meet-cutes, they make me all smiley inside. Little wonder why I write romance...

    And somewhere around the house, we still have 2 cassette tapes of that awful reading I did 14 years ago that ultimately brought us together.

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  17. Great post! I loved the movie "Bringing up Baby". SUCH a classic!

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  18. Shana, I'm sure you were adorably inebriated!

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  19. Matthew, that's a great story. It's like fate just kept on trying until you got together. You can obviously do romance just fine:)

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  20. Matthew, that's a great story. It's like fate just kept on trying until you got together. You can obviously do romance just fine:)

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  21. I first saw my now husband as I passed by him walking out of a sports bar. He followed me out into the parking lot to ask for my phone number. I thought it was a little odd and almost didn't give him the right number - I'm glad now I did! Later he told me he saw me and just "knew" I was the one!

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  22. Hi, Amanda!!!! You must have gotten good vibes or something to give him the right number! You're right - sometimes you just know!

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  23. Hi Joanne! What a wonderful phrase, 'meet cute'. I learn something new from the Casababes every time. Thanks so much for sharing!

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