If you're an author, chances are you've heard the following when someone learns your secret identity:
Do you want to hear a story?
A few months back, a woman trapped me between the leg press machine and the lat pull-down machine at the gym and told me all about her nasty divorce and subsequent discovery of her true prince charming. I murmured the appropriate condolences and made the appropriate sounds of shared happiness. And when she asked me if I thought it would make a good book, I told her it wasn't the type of story I write, but I encouraged her to write it herself.
Lately, I've had the opposite problem. People in my life have told me NOT to write their stories. My nephew fell in love with a nice girl from Taiwan while doing his graduate studies. When I asked him how they met, he told me he couldn't tell me. "It's private," he said. "Not for your kind of books."
A few weeks ago, I visited my kids in Oregon, where they go to school. My son has been in love with a young woman since September, but she has a boyfriend. When I arrived to visit, he had a love bite on his neck! I asked him if he was seeing Jaime and he told me he wasn't seeing anyone. How could I not come right back at him with, "Then that love bite must have come from a big mosquito."
During this same visit, my daughter told me her boyfriend was going to ask Mr. Curtis and I for her hand in marriage. Didn't happen. I got a text message on the drive home from my girl telling me not to make a big deal out of a non-event. "I don't want to see this in one of your books, Mom, because his mom reads your books."
I think I should be offended. More likely, I'll just laugh it off. I'd love to hear your tales of sworn secrecy or being snubbed on information (like how someone met).