MISSY: Ha ha! I did it! When stupid Meljean opened up the closet door looking for spiders to smash, I bonked her in the head with a boot! I’m free! I’m free!
MELJEAN: **groan** …no…time…for you…must…write…
MISSY: Shut up! I’ll kick you in the face, you meanie! I can’t believe you wrote a thing about hating long hair. I LOVE long hair on men — especially Indians! One day, I’m going to marry an Indian and live wild and free in a teepee, and eat jerky all the time and ride mustangs, and dance around naked, until my husband rips off his loincloth and has his savage way with me under the stars! Preferably, my husband will be Wind-In-His-Hair from DANCES WITH WOLVES. He’s soooo cute. Way cuter than any of the boys in my class, except maybe Clint Johnson, but he likes Amanda.
MELJEAN: In the next movie you see him in, Wind-In-His-Hair is fat.
MISSY: I hate you! Why do you destroy all of my dreams?
MELJEAN: Tee hee.
MISSY: …What’s the book we’re reading?
MELJEAN: Diana Palmer’s HEART OF ICE.
MISSY: Hey! I thought we were reading Nora Roberts’s IRISH THOROUGHBRED?
MELJEAN: I was in a hurry and grabbed the wrong purple book from the table. What? Don’t kick my face or I’ll stab you with my pencil! Jesus! It’s your fault, you lazy little shit. You never learned how to wake up early, and by this time it is impossible. You’re always running out the door at the last minute, or late — and now that you have a baby you’re later than ever, because getting yourself and the baby ready on time? Forget it.
MISSY: Awww. Is she cute?
MELJEAN: Yep. And half-Indian, too. But not the kind of Indian you were thinking, I imagine.
MISSY: Dammit! I want a fricking teepee!
MELJEAN: Oh, joy — a cowboy.
MISSY: I like cowboys. But why is there a plane in the background? And mountains?
MELJEAN: Because in the future, planes and mountains hump each other.
MISSY: You are such a dork.
MELJEAN: Hehe. I like puns.
MISSY: So does Satan.
MELJEAN: Yeah. But it kinda looks like a big, shiny dick is coming out the back of his head, doesn’t it?
MELJEAN: Alrighty then! Because I’m too lazy to type up the back copy, I took a picture of it:
MELJEAN: *sigh* I remember when category romances were only $1.95. And, hey, it’s a Mary Sue!
MISSY: A what?
MELJEAN: It’s about a romance writer — written by a romance writer!
MISSY: Oh. Oh! So you think this is a book where the author puts herself in as the heroine?
MELJEAN: Well, maybe not — I know nothing about Palmer’s biography, after all — but it is kinda weird.
MISSY: I don’t think so. It can’t be just secretaries that fall in love — romance writers need love, too.
MELJEAN: Uh…yeah. Let’s take a gander at that excerpt:
Challenge to Love
“You slapped me once and got away with it,” Egan said quietly. “If you do it again, now, we’ll wind up in bed together.”
She felt her body tremble at the words. “No,” she bit off.
“Yes.” His chest rose and fell heavily, and his eyes cut into hers.
MELJEAN: Jesus H. Christ! His eyes CUT into hers? Motherhumping OUCH!
MISSY: How is that different from ‘glaring daggers’?
MELJEAN: It’s not, I guess…but, Yikes!
MISSY: I wish you wouldn’t interrupt these.
MELJEAN: Sooooo sorry!
…cut into hers. “Don’t you realize that the way we react to each other is like flint and steel? All it would take is a kiss. Just that. And we’d burn each other alive. I’ve known that from the very beginning.”
She hadn’t, and the thought of Egan as a lover made her bones melt. She had to smother a gasp as she turned away with her arms folded protectively around her slender body.
“Don’t worry; you’re safe, city girl,” he said in a mocking tone. “I’m not that desperate. Just don’t push me too far.”
MELJEAN: Hmmm…mocking? Check. Sexual threats? Check. Slender body? Check. Trembling? Check. We’ve got an eighties romance here, folks!
MISSY: I like it!
MELJEAN: Of course you do.
MISSY: Hey! I remember you bawling over DARKER FIRE, and liking THE DEVIL’S PAWN! So, shut up.
MELJEAN: **grumble grumble**
KATI: Wah! You invited your brother to Manhattan for the holidays? You know we hate each other!
ROOMMATE: But our mommy died, and he’s all alone.
KATI: Alright, I’ll be nice — but only because you are my best friend.
MISSY: Ew, she lives in New York City!
MELJEAN: *sigh* I wanna live in New York.
MISSY: You’re crazy! I’m gonna live in the mountains in a tee —
MELJEAN: Yeah, yeah, we know. Dork.
MISSY: She has a roommate — I wouldn’t mind a roommate in college or something.
MELJEAN: The college roommate isn’t bad. She has sex with her boyfriend in the bunk below yours. That’s interesting.
MELJEAN: But you won’t really appreciate roommates until Venessa — who, a year after you begin living with her, starts working for an ‘escort service’.
MISSY: What does that mean?
MELJEAN: It means you get a studio apartment to yourself, real quick.
KATI: Oh, I hate Egan! I remember how, when I visited Wyoming a year ago, I went out with a friend of his, and the car broke down, and we had to walk twenty miles home. We didn’t get home until 4am, and Egan thought I was a slut!
EGAN: You slut! Get out of my house!
EGAN: “You with your loose morals and your disgusting books!”
MELJEAN: Oh…okay, so this is going to be a defense of the romance writer’s morality.
MISSY: Poor Kati! Egan treats her so badly, and doesn’t listen to her at all! But she’s not a slut, she isn’t!
MELJEAN: So…what if she was?
MISSY: …you’re kidding, right?
EGAN: Hello, slut!
KATI: Oh, your unexpected appearance has made me crush a Christmas ornament in my hand! I’m bleeeeeeeding!
EGAN: Let me bandage that up for you, slut.
KATI: Your nearness makes me all…hot.
EGAN: God, you slut, hurting yourself so that I have to get close to you and make me want you!
MELJEAN: **bangs head on desk**
MISSY: You can tell he really wants her, but is fighting it.
MISSY: What? It’s just a misunderstanding — first, he reads sexy parts in her books. Then she’s out late with men. Then he sees her dressed up all sexy — of course he thinks she sleeps with everyone, and thinks she is lying about it when she says she doesn’t!
MELJEAN: **kills self**
EGAN: How many men have you slept with to research your sexy books, slut?
KATI: You’re wrong about me!
EGAN: No I’m not! God, I have to kiss you, you slut! **kisses her punishingly, but then it becomes all tender and shit**
KATI: I want you! I hate you!
EGAN: I hate you! I want you, you slut! I don’t mind you being experienced, but your promiscuity is just too much!
KATI: “You big ugly cowboy!”
MELJEAN: **rolls on floor, laughing** Best. Line. Ever.
EGAN: Do you really think I’m ugly, slut? **kissssssss**
KATI: Don’t threaten me with sex! (runs to room and slams the door)
EGAN: Let me in, slut!
ROOMMATE: Can’t we all just get along?
KATI: Okay. Do you want me to make you an omelet?
KATI: You aren’t so bad when you aren’t calling me a slut.
EGAN: No, I’m not. Wanna come out to the ranch so you can research your new book? (aside) Slut.
MISSY: Yay! They are getting along now. Egan’s not so bad, is he?
MISSY: God, I hate you! You have an empty soul!
MELJEAN: …I don’t even know what to say to that.
KATI: Wyoming is sooooo bee-yoo-tee-full!
EGAN: So are you. Too bad you are a slut.
KATI: Have you actually ever read one of my books?
EGAN: I’ve read enough, slut.
KATI: It’s the characters doing that stuff, not me.
MELJEAN: Oh, great — instead of challenging the idea that any woman who sleeps with a man is a slut, it just reinforces it. “My characters have sex, not me! The sex is fantasy, so I’m still untouched and pure!” So what if she HAD had sex? Would Egan have been proved right? Egan may be wrong about her, specifically, but this never says he’s wrong about women who sleep with other men being sluts. On one hand, I can appreciate what Palmer is doing here — separating the author from the work; after all, Stephen King doesn’t go around killing people for real — but the underlying stereotype that fuels Egan’s opinion of Kati is never really overturned. It just has the appearance of it.
MISSY: What the hell are you talking about? Mumbo jumbo, I say.
MELJEAN: Look, Egan’s operating under two assumptions. A) Romance writers can’t write sex scenes without trying them out beforehand, and B) Women who sleep with other men are sluts. Kati disproves A, but B is still left dangling — and B is really the important one.
MISSY: Says who?
MELJEAN: Says me.
EGAN: Let’s do it!
KATI: Okay, but there’s something I need to tell you: my parents were missionaries, and I’m a virgin.
EGAN: What the fuck? I can’t hump a virgin!
MELJEAN: So he doesn’t mind if she has experience as long as she isn’t promiscuous — but if she’s a virgin, she’s off limits, too? Jesus, Egan! Make up your fucking mind.
MISSY: Oh, it’s so honorable! He finds out he was wrong, and now he feels bad about how he treated her…awwww. I’m gonna grow up and be a virgin romance writer, and find a hero like Egan to sweep me off my feet and then grovel!
MELJEAN: Well, you got part of that right.
KATI: I should go.
KATI: I can’t.
KATI: Because I can’t live on crumbs.
EGAN: I’m all rich and shit — and I’m really hot in bed.
KATI: Because I’m in love with you.
KATI: “I’d rather be alone forever than on my knees at your heart.”
MISSY: Best. Line. Ever.
MELJEAN: You weenie.
EGAN: Whuh? You love…me?
THE WISE HOUSEKEEPER: Phone call!
EGAN: Shit, I have to get that because one of my men was gored by a bull. Stay here.
KATI: Okay. (waits for Egan to leave and runs to the airport)
EGAN: Fuck! (goes to the airport and carries her off the plane)
EGAN: I love you.
KATI: Oh, okay then.
MELJEAN: Jesus, you dork. No wonder I left you in the closet for so long.
MISSY: I wanna live happily ever after writing romance novels!
MELJEAN: Hey! Whaddya know? I guess I didn’t destroy all of your dreams.
MELJEAN: Tee hee.
MISSY: Hadn’t you better get to work, slut? Write write write!
MELJEAN: Yes, indeed I better.