George Bernard Shaw once said, “England and the United States are two countries separated by a common language.” Sometimes I feel the same way about men and women. Specifically, my writing partner SusanH and I.
Chapter 40 ends a 5-chapter section where Susan rebelled against Rick. A total meltdown, accompanied by 2 pages of Purple Edits (I still wake up in the night either screaming or in a cold sweat over purple edits). I mean, if Rick had been a monarch he’d have found himself marching to the guillotine wondering, what the hell did I do?
Two of his transgressions were:
- he used the phrase “making love” as a euphemism for sex. Susan annotated EVERY usage with ICK (at least they were in Green; see below).
- When Adeline made her half-hearted pass at him, he tried to let her down gently by saying, “For now, I need a boss more than I need a lover. After Beltane, we can reevaluate if you like.” Susan took that to mean he was actively soliciting another woman for his harem, and commented, “I used to like this book. . .”
Clearly, two people separated by a common language.
So in Chapter 40, when Sabrina says, “I do love mysteries. I guess I have time. I probably owe you that much anyway, running your girlfriend off and all,” Susan wanted Rick to answer, “Just so you know, I don’t think of her as a girlfriend.”
After all the discussion and the bloodshed, I end up taking most of Susan’s suggestions. But I confess that I was horrified at this one. For me, Rick would be totally deceitful if he said such a thing. I mean, he’s seeing Chai every weekend for wild sex. Would you be OK if the guy you were flirting with said, “I don’t think of her as a girlfriend” about such a relationship?
For Susan, the term “girlfriend” means “long-term relationship with significant emotional commitment.” So what Rick would be saying, in effect, is “Well, yeah, we’re screwing like bunnies but I don’t care all that much about her.”
When I was adamant about it she appealed to my wife. And so you know how that went. They went to the restroom together and came back in total agreement.
I ended up addressing the problem by changing Sabrina’s line to, “I probably owe you that much anyway, running your lady friend off and all.” I figured if she had any questions about the difference between a girlfriend and a lady friend, she could just go to the restroom with Kate and Susan and come back filled with understanding.
Purple Commentary on Romance and Girl Speak . . .
Rick says that Sabrina “knows” he isn’t committed to Chai, but that’s not what it sounded like at breakfast. She keeps “asking” him by referring to your lady friend, your voodoo lady, your girlfriend, even how they must have been too “busy” on the island to walk the wheel. The key word here is “your” and is Girl Speak for “tell me she’s not.” But every time she makes this reference, Rick ignores/avoids a clarification or correction.
I think I suggested in an earlier chapter that he could say something small such as : “I don’t think of her as my girlfriend.” In this chapter, we could see that Sabrina believes him when she says “the voodoo lady” not “your voodoo lady.”
Or maybe you want Rick to be clueless here as a set up for later in their story—that’s certainly believable when it comes to his relationships. If so, ignore all above and carry on.
But . . . Rick IS clueless. He’s a guy. What does he know about the subtle inferences of “your?” My basic assumption is: if I don’t know it, Rick doesn’t either.