Meet-Cute

From that source of all information on the web, Wikipedia:

A meet-cute is a scene in film, television, etc. in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time in a way that is considered adorable, entertaining, or amusing.

This type of scene is a staple of romantic comedies, commonly involving contrived, unusual, or comic circumstances. The technique creates an artificial situation to bring together characters in a theoretically entertaining manner. Frequently the meet-cute leads to a humorous clash of personalities or beliefs, embarrassing situations, or comical misunderstandings that further drive the plot.

In reality, I suspect that most meet-cutes would devolve into a restraining order or at least lifelong hostility. I’ve done a quick mental survey of my romantic attachments through the years, and not one of them began with one of those meet-cute moments–though oddly, some of my most enduring friendships did. Still, I remain interested in how moviemakers and fiction writers bring two strangers together for the first time and create a story out of it.


In Shawn Anniston’s tale, “Thanksgiving,” the narrator and his potential love interest meet in an unlikely setting for romance–a car wash. Maybe nothing would have come of it except for another couple of key players in the scene. Here’s how it begins.

We met at a car wash. I probably wouldn’t have given him a second look—too young and not a physical type I’m normally attracted to—except for his dog. I was sitting on a bench outside the squat, many-windowed building with my black Lab, Archie. I was thinking, as I probably had every day since adopting Archie from a shelter three years before, how strange it was that a low-key man like me had ended up with a high-energy dog. I knew Archie would love nothing more than for me to drop the leash so he could run through the spray of water, trying to bite it, shaking it from his coat and dancing back for more.

It was Archie’s frantic tail wagging that first drew my attention to a dog a few benches away. I scrutinized him: mostly Great Pyrenees, I thought, because of the white coat, but his smaller stature betrayed him as a mixed breed. He sat motionless, staring over the busy lot with calm detachment.

“You could learn a thing or two from that one,” I said to Archie, shortening his lead before he could greet the woman who dropped to the other end of my bench. I sensed that she wasn’t a dog person and wouldn’t welcome Archie’s slobbery gesture of friendship.

I looked back at the white dog, and then I let my gaze travel up to his companion. Earbuds connected him to his phone, on which he seemed to be furiously texting or playing a game. There was a Starbucks cup and an iPad next to him. From time to time, he picked up one or the other, while one Chuck Taylor-clad foot kept time with whatever he was listening to. Although I had as many or more gadgets, I felt my usual twinge of superiority at how I refused to be a slave to technology. I’d long ago amended an old saying to Life is what happens while you’re busy with your iProducts.

At that moment, the man’s head lifted, his gaze fell on Archie and he grinned. I knew his next move would be to judge me the way I’d been judging him, so I turned my head as if to watch the crew finish detailing my car, though I knew it wasn’t on the lot yet. After sufficient time had passed for him to evaluate and dismiss me, I looked at him. Our eyes locked.

This is new, I thought as my heart felt a little jolt.

I stood, intending to go back inside the building as if it had just occurred to me that I needed a restroom or a bottle of water or a shoeshine. Except the man stood, too. The dogs began walking toward each other as if spotting an old friend, and we passively allowed ourselves to be pulled along behind them.

And then what happens? You can find out in Best Gay Romance 2014, on sale now in trade paperback and ebook format.

Excerpt reprinted with permission from Cleis Press. All rights reserved.
Thank you to Harley and the late Sequoia for being photo stand-ins for Archie and Lionel.

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