I’ve been spending my breaks and lunches at work thinking about my novel / story / whatever, scribbling down one-page scenes and ideas and such. My main plot is currently being overshadowed by my romantic subplot, since I don’t know yet how to really get into the thick of my main plot. I’ve figured out how it goes at the end, pretty much, but I don’t know how my protagonist manages to even get into the seedy underworld he needs to in order to solve the mystery, much less how he ends up actually solving it.
So, anyway, I came up with a romantic subplot, one that strengthens the other subplots involving my MC’s ethnic heritage and his morality and why he’s at university, et cetera. This subplot involves playing one woman against another—or, at least, neglecting one woman while thoroughly enjoying another’s company, then feeling like a total ass about it and not knowing how to rectify the situation.
In order to give myself some perspective on how it feels to be in such a situation, I pulled out a couple of my old journals. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to, because those times in my life were some of the worst and most stressful and depressing times I’ve ever experienced… but I figured that remembering how that felt would improve the believability of my writing.
Flashback: Spring semester, 1995. I was such a ho. Not literally, of course, and perhaps not in the view of others; but even looking back on it now, I agree that I was quite the virgin ho. During this semester, I “went out” with four guys (not including Ted, aka “Mr. Winkie”). And, yes, all four (or five) of these guys I met on the BGSU IRC. All names and nicks will be withheld to protect the innocent and the
Guy #1 was seven or eight years older than me, quite the Christian boy—and, like me, had never french-kissed before. He just had too many mental issues, though, and was even more socially inept than I was (and, honestly, his face wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing). We ended up being “just friends” after not going much farther than kissing.
Guy #2 was my age, and was really the Boyfriend Starter Kit for me. Unfortunate, though, as the thing I most remember about him at that time was that he thought my shoes were ratty. At the time, all we really did was look over each other’s academic papers and make out. After a month, he decided that he didn’t have time for a relationship, and we decided to be “just friends.”
Guy #3 was the bassist in a local college band, and pretty much ended up being a fuck-buddy (minus the actual fucking). Every few days we’d get together, be silly with a friend or friends, then he and I would go up to his room and have make-out-like-monkeys time. This was usually either prefaced or concluded with him sticking his socky old feet in my lap while he played his guitar. And I liked it.
After Spring Break, Guy #3 “broke up” with me over IRC, saying he had been interested in another girl for a good three weeks before he and I had gotten together. Unfortunately for him, this other girl didn’t want anything to do with him, but he wasn’t giving up the chase. Strangely enough, even though our relationship was mainly physical, that breakup really shook me bad—for about an hour, that is, until Guy #2 showed up (in person, not over IRC) and we ended up deciding to have an “open relationship.” Confusing, but still not entirely bad.
Not even two days later, Guy #4 enters the scene. Slightly older than me, more mature than the other types I’d been seeing, and the first to really make my heart do a little pitter-patter. I had more in common with him than with Guys #1 through 3, and I figured… hell, Guy #2 wants to see other people, so here I go, seeing other people. Only thing is, after several hours-long dates and hours-long phone calls, Guy #4 admitted that the only thing that would really piss him off would be cheating.
So much for the open relationship with Guy #2.
Guy #4 was SO much cooler than him. I ended up totally blowing off Guy #2, never calling him, never e-mailing him, in favor of Guy #4. Until Guy #2 called and wanted to go to Cosmo’s with me. I was so torn, and I felt so bad for doing this, but at the end of the evening, I told Guy #2 all about Guy #4 and how he made me feel. And Guy #2 was surprisingly understanding about the whole thing. Agreed to remain friends. Even gave me some friendly advice, telling me that if Guy #4 had a problem with me having guy friends, then he was just a pain in the ass and he wasn’t worth it. I agreed with that.
Not even a week later, Guy #2 declared that he wanted me back. Which confused the shit out of me. And we were both horny bastards, so I let him spend the night in my room. (Incidentally, neither of my Freshman year roommates actually *lived* in our room.) That little fling really cemented the fact that I preferred Guy #4 over Guy #2, though. Their personalities and styles were just so different, and I knew who I preferred.
Not even a week after *that*, Guy #4 told me (over IRC) that he wasn’t ready for a relationship.
So, to avoid dragging this whole soap opera out any longer, here’s the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the rest: I told Guy #2 what happened—and after some “am I only second best?” rhetoric, we agreed to “try to make it work.” I went to Guy #4’s frat party as a “friend,” and had to correct everyone who asked if I was his girlfriend. Guy #3 managed to make a repeat appearance during the last night of the semester when I agreed to one last make-out session in my room “for old times’ sake.”
Then I spent the summer in drumcorps, and the fall at home in Parma under Academic Suspension. When I finally returned to BGSU, I learned that Guy #2 had gotten himself another girlfriend without having the decency to break up with me first. No big loss, though, as it left me unfettered during the pivotal Spring 1996 semester (when I met Aaron).
Why am I spilling my guts like this? Good question. It’s actually kind of awkward, now that I think about it, though it’s also a touch cathartic. Getting in touch with my former ho-ness, all for the sake of my art.
Point being, in the end, that between all the crazy, fucked-up feelings I had that semester, I can certainly remember one that would be appropriate to what my main character will be feeling when he realizes that he’s cheated on his girlfriend back home.