There are a million ideas bubbling in my brain, and a million decisions to make – does the heroine’s dad hate food that’s brown? Does the hero secretly read Glamour magazine?
These may seem like tiny details, but they’re a big part of developing characters, particularly in romantic comedy.
Fortunately, Pythagoras offers endless inspiration for the sort of quirks that can comprise a human male. I thought of this yesterday when he was searching for paperwork from a knee surgery he had years ago in Montana.
We had only been dating a short time, and Pythagoras was working as a ski school director while I put my newly-minted English degree to good use tending bar at the ski lodge.
One weekend, Pythagoras took a road trip to coach several teenage ski racers for a Junior Olympics qualifier. He called from the road that evening.
“I fell asleep with my socks off,” he informed me. “The girls thought it would be funny to paint my toenails.”
Knowing many men would be horrified to be decorated with a female cosmetic product, I wasn’t sure how to respond.
“Wow,” I said. “What color are they?”
“Vixen,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s sparkly.”
As it turned out, Vixen was a rather disturbing shade of purple. As it also turned out, we couldn’t find nail polish remover in the boxes from our recent move. Since Pythagoras didn’t seem too concerned by the color of his toenails, we both forgot about it.
|Pythagoras prepares to go to the hospital |
with Vixen toenails
Then came the ski accident. Pythagoras was rushed to a tiny rural hospital where we waited for the doctor to inspect the damage.
“Oh,” said the doctor the instant he pulled off a sock. “Is this bruising, or—”
“No, it’s Vixen,” Pythagoras offered helpfully.
The doctor and nurse stared, probably trying to recall whether this was a jailable offense in Montana.
“He didn’t do it himself,” I stammered.
The nurse looked at me, then back at Pythagoras. “Who did this to you?” she whispered.
Pythagoras shrugged. “Some girl on the Junior Olympic team I coach. I was asleep.”
The doctor blinked at him. “You were sleeping? With a teenage girl who painted your toenails?”
At that point, I began to wonder if the hospital had a policy permitting medical staff to shoot patients if they deemed it appropriate. Not wanting to find out, I smiled brightly at the doctor.
“So about his knee—?”
Eventually, Pythagoras was sent to a larger hospital for surgery. Through it all, we never got around to removing the polish. The color eventually wore off, and Pythagoras’ knee soon healed.
But I’ve never forgotten the Vixen.
It wasn’t that he enjoyed wearing it. It was just that he was so blissfully immune to the rule that says men – especially men in Montana – should be horrified at having their toenails painted purple.
That security in his masculinity and general obliviousness to the “rules” is one of the things I love best about Pythagoras.
It’s also something I’m hoping to capture in the hero I’m writing for my new book.
What quirky traits do your characters or real-life loved ones have? Please share in the comment trail.
I’ll be waiting for my husband to fall asleep so I can test out my new eyeliner.