Now that I’m a romance writer, my secret is out in the open. But, once, I too, was a closet romance reader – afraid of the sneers and funny looks if I even breathed the name Susan Elizabeth Phillips or mentioned that I had actually read the unabridged version of Gone with the Wind.
My true mettle was tested one day at work when we were asked to talk about our hobbies. At that time, I worked for a large corporation and I was the lone female manager in an engineering development area. All the managers were settled in a conference room in order to meet our new third line manager. He was truly a nice guy and I enjoyed working for him. He asked each of us to go around the table, introduce ourselves and describe things that we liked doing outside of work.
The hair on the back of my neck stood up when he said that. But, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I had some time to formulate my answer as he had started with a guy at the far end of the table from me. I decided to listen to what everyone else said and then come up with something. I certainly didn’t want to embarrass myself by blurting out the first thing that should come out of my mouth – “I love reading romance novels”. Keep in mind that the room was full of testosterone and geekiness. I just didn’t fit in.
One man told about building a playhouse for his daughters with his bare hands using only a hand saw, hammer and nails. Another gave a dissertation about how he built a circuit to control his coffee pot and toaster. How did he know how to do that? Someone had lovingly restored a 1967 Mustang. He was so proud that at the end of the project there were no spare parts lying dejectedly on the garage floor with a sign on them that said “what do I do with this?” Stories of woodworking, bowling, fishing, hunting and an occasional golf story filled the room.
My palms began to sweat. Should I mention my love affair with my new, shiny bread machine? Who knew you could make wheat bread one day and rye bread the next? How about the pine cone wreath I assembled in my basement and now had proudly hanging on my front door? Dare I mention that I aced a ribbon making class and am now looking forward to wrapping Christmas presents that look like they were done by a very well trained elf?
When my turn finally came I told about training for a Centurion bicycle ride with my husband (all true), that I was in a ladies bowling league proudly bowling on a team named the ‘Guttersnipes’ and that I was a rabid Minnesota Vikings fan. Go Vikes!
Whew! Disaster averted. At least I wasn’t laughed out of the room. But, my true love was nestled safely inside my purse. Maybe I could read a few chapters in my car during lunch.