Those of you who’ve been around for awhile are familiar with Jane and Richard from my writing lesson examples. I believe at the moment, Richard is buried somewhere in Jane’s boss’s backyard while she enjoys her promotion. Anyway, Anemone and Liz are writing a romance novel in Rest in Pink, which has led to many meta moments like this one:
Anemone picked up the folder she’d brought to the breakfast table. It was pink, so I already had an idea of what was in it. “She’s a thirty-three-year-old writer—”
“No,” I said.
“—of romance novels. Why not?”
“Writers writing about writers is not good. It’s like grad students writing short stories about grad students. Very meta and self-serving.”
“Write what you know, Liz.”
“Also writers lead very boring lives, sitting around in t-shirts and pajama pants, drinking Diet Coke and googling for minutiae. You can’t get a story out of that.”
But then Bob, who has no respect for my creative process, pointed out that Richard and Jane were actually Dick and Jane. So I had Liz tell Anemone that, and then they googled for Dick and Jane so they could steal the plots–yes, by then I was way past the book we were writing–and, well, here’s Liz and Anemone talking about the book they’re going to write about Jane and Richard. I’m pretty sure none of this except for the first one will appear in Rest in Pink, but you never know. Also every story cited below is real, including the one with Dora.
I sat down across from Anemone on one of the blue couches—you know, I’ve always liked that color, but after a month trapped in Faye’s Rhapsody in Blue, I would kill for a nice taupe—and tried very hard not to yawn in her face. Staying up most of Sunday night with Vince is one my favorite things—right up there with food and music—but it did make Mondays hell.
“Would you like a nap?” Anemone said politely, so I must have yawned in her face after all.
“So here’s the thing,” I said. “You know how we named our lovers Jane and Richard? Vince just pointed out to me that’s Dick and Jane. You know, from the kids’ books.”
“Yes, I know,” Anemone said. “So we change them?”
“I think we go with it. I did some minor googling. They have a younger sister named Sally, a cat named Puff, a teddy bear named Ted, and—this one is my favorite—a clown named Jack.”
“Not following,” Anemone said.
“Puff is the evil grandmother with one of those puffs of silver hair. Sally is the little girl. Tim is Dick’s best friend, teddy bear of a guy, and Jack the Clown is the evil whatsis that we had planned and that I have forgotten in detail.”
“Evil politician. And Spot?”
“Jane’s best friend.”
“I don’t think a hero named Dick—“
“No, no, he’s still called Richard. But at one point, Jane will turn to him and say, ‘Richard, you are such a dick . . .’”
Anemone started to laugh and stifled it. “We need to take this seriously.”
“I am,” I said. “I think we look at the plots of the Dick and Jane books and see what we can use. Updated to adulthood, of course. Some pieces of some of the stories are online, and the first one is a little repetitive, just “look” and “oh,” but she does almost step in a puddle and then Dick saves her with his wagon.”
“Jane?” Anemone said, reluctantly interested.
“Sally. But we can make it be Jane. Who almost falls in a lake, but Richard saves her. With his classic station wagon.”
“That is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” Anemone said.
“Yeah, the station wagon is a bridge too far. Who the hell would still be driving a staton wagon?”
Anemone shook her head, and I thought she was giving up on me, but then she said, “Send me the URL.”
“Did you read the one where Jane got three dolls for her birthday?” Anemone said. “Jane can have triplets.”
“Jane is not going to have three secret babies. No. I read the one where Sally wanted to go for a ride in the big yellow car, the red and yellow airplane, and the blue boat that Father was in. I think Father is the head of the secret agency that Jack the Clown works for. And the next thing Sally will want to go for a ride in will be his windowless van. That kid has escape fantasies. And a death wish.”
“I read a disturbing page this morning,” Anemone said. “It was Dick—“ she shook her head—“Richard holding a stick and saying, ‘Come, Spot, Come.’ Very Fifty Shades. Didn’t you say Spot was Jane’s best friend?”
“Jane has terrible taste in best friends and boyfriends. Maybe she ends up with Jack the Clown. Maybe Richard really is a Dick.”
I found one with Dick and Dora,” Anemone said.
“Who the hell is Dora?”
“They were hopping,” Anemone said, “And then Dora said, ‘I can hop on my line. It is fun to get on a line and hop.’”
“Richard is now a coke fiend?” I said.
“I don’t know about Richard, but Dora is definitely a crack whore.”
“My favorite page so far?” Anemone said. “Dick likes Jane. Jane likes Dick.”
“Jane’s no fool,” I said.