Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Title That Ended A Relationship

      Most of my stories first come to me as a 'what if this or that happened?" question, as a few lines of intriguing dialogue or perhaps a location I find especially compelling.  While I'm writing, I usually come up with a 'working title', but often it takes a good deal of hemming and hawing and ruminating to finally arrive at a title that seems to work. Rarely does a title itself come out of the wild blue of my imagination and then demand that I invent a story to go with it.
      That's pretty much what happened, though, with "A Hairy Chest, A Big Dick, and A Harley."  I don't really know how that title came into my mind--although my ex-husband could reasonably assert he might have been the inspiration--all I remember is one day that phrase popped into my head, and I thought, wow, that would make a great title!
     Assuming I had a story to go with it. Which I didn't.
     So I set it aside with a mental asterisk to remind me that one of these days I was going to discover the story that went with the title. Some time went by and finally I knew I had to write something.  I kept thinking about how women like to dish about men, the ones they used to have, the ones they wish they had, and what might happen if three very different women made a game of deciding what attributes or qualities they most wanted in a man. And there had to be a dark spin on this, so maybe if one of the women was being abused...maybe if her friends decided to put a literal twist on one of the attributes she wanted...lo and behold, I found I had a sweet little tale about female bonding and birthday celebrations with just a teensy bit of murder thrown in for good measure.
     Of course,  a short story entitled "A Hairy Chest, A Big Dick, And A Harley" isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. I was astonished, though, (and quite a bit amused) when a man I'd gone out with a couple of times claimed that reading the title alone caused him so much distress he had to see his physician. And no, I am not making this up. We were having dinner at a restaurant here on the lovely central California coast when my date turned pale and seemed to be having a hard time swallowing. Somewhat alarmed, I asked him if he wanted to go to the emergency room, but he said no and, after a few minutes, seemed to recover from whatever had happened. The next day, I phoned to ask how he was doing. He told me that the day before he'd looked me up on the internet, discovered the story in a list of my published work, and was so rattled by the title alone (he never read the story) that he'd suffered a gastrointestinal attack.
       Wow. No kidding! Really!!
      So there you have it, a title that's actually been accused of being a health hazard.
      Which is why, no matter how far out there a writer's imagination may go, nothing can possibly top the nuttiness of reality.

1 comment:

  1. Satisfying when a great title finds its great story.