Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Best Date EVER

HANK: Hurray hurray, it's Catriona day.

She's one of the dearest friends of the reds ever, I mean, EVER. She's brilliant, and hilarious, and wonderful human beings, and knows a lot of stuff.  Look at that bio! I mean, do.

Her new book is out! Well, August 3, but you can--hint hint--pre-order.  It's called SCOT ON THE ROCKS And it's a Lexy book, and you KNOW you want that. Need that. MUST have that.

And as in all books, this one needed research. And though we all draw from our own lives, Catriona hit an obstacle with this one. Dating.



Reader, I dated him.
  by Catriona McPherson

In the third book about Lexy Campbell and her pals from the Last Ditch Motel, I’ve got my poor heroine – of all things – dating. The dates were a lot of fun to write but also quite a challenge, because the last time I actually went on a date was 1985. And that was only to get a baked potato.

     Remember that bit in Sleepless in Seattle when widowed Tom Hanks is thinking about going back out there? And Rob Reiner says “All you need to know is tiramisu”. And Tom says “Wait, what? How long have I been away? I’ve never even heard of tiramisu and now you tell me every woman I meet will expect me to do it to her?”

      That would be me trying to write about dating, if it weren’t for fiction. I love a fictional date! (Tan France voice.) When I was young I swooned over the romantic, successful date. As time has passed I’ve come to appreciate the bittersweet, doomed date and – best of all – the truly horrendous but very funny date.

     Here’s my top five.
 5. Maxim and the future Mrs de Winter in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca
They’re in Monte Carlo. Mrs Van Hopper is laid up in her suite. And so, day after day, Maxim drives the girl around the cliffs, sometimes smouldering wordlessly at her, sometimes snapping at her to stop biting her nails, sometimes staring bleakly out to sea with his jaw in a grim line, wracked by ghosts . . . What was wrong with us all back then? These were terrible dates! Maxim de Winter is a bad boyfriend. Of course, he wasn’t much cop as a husband either, what with one thing and another. Nice house, though.

4. Rob and Laura in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity
I adore this pair of bumbling would-be lovers. On the best of all their hopeless dates (and one of the others was a funeral), Rob asked Laura to meet for lunch . . . and proposed! So romantic! Laura laughed in his face. He insisted he was serious, telling her he was tired of love and hopes and dreams and he just wanted to be done with it. She checked. Was he, she asked, saying that if he had a bit more energy they might be breaking up but, since he was so exhausted, how about getting married? Pretty much, he confirmed. “Well, that changes everything!” Laura said. “How can I resist it? I will! I do!” It’s a great scene (and I reckon he’s still a better bet than de Winter).

3. Mira and Johnny in Jess Lourey’s Knee High by the First of July*
At this stage of the game, three books in, Minnesota librarian and super-sleuth, Mira James, is in a love triangle with the toothsome Johnny, the annoying chief of police Gary Wohnt (I read a few entries in the series thinking “Gary Wohnt, but Mira might”), and the other chief, Chief Wenonga, an enormous fibre-glass statue of a fallen hero of the Ojibwe people, who sometimes seems like a better prospect than either of the other two. One night, Mira gathers all her courage, dresses up, makes a fancy meal and invites Johnny over for general . . . let’s call it tiramisu. Now, I don’t want to spoil the scene. It is laugh-out-loud funny. But maybe don’t read it while eating.

*We think. I emailed Jessie after much feverish thumbing of pages. She thinks it’s either this one or August Moon. But you can’t go wrong reading any of the twelve instalments.

2. Bobby and Michelle in John Vercher’s Three-Fifths
Yes, this counts! This is totally a date. Bobby is training up Michelle as a waitress at the restaurant where they both work and, when he goes upstairs to the closed section with his own plate of food one night before his shift, she’s there already. He sits down at the very next table. She doesn’t close her schoolbooks. At this point, they make Rob and Laura look all in. Slowly, though, the scene turns into one of the sweetest moments in the book. It’s a little oasis of kindness in what – I’ve got to tell you – is otherwise complete heartbreak. I’ve been recommending this debut all year since I came across it. It’s a bleak and beautiful story and all the more so for this single breath of hope.

1.Peter and Harriet in Dorothy L Sayers’ Gaudy Night
But to finish on actual romance: I still think this is pretty perfect, decades after I first read it. Peter has been pursuing Harriet for several books now and so far she’s having none of it. In this scene, they’re in a punt, on the Cam, reading over case notes:
“She studied his half-averted face. … The flat setting and fine scroll work of the ear . . . the gleam of golden down on the cheekbone …. The little hollow points above the collar bone …
He looked up and she was instantly scarlet, as though she had been dipped in boiling water. Through the confusion of her darkened eyes and drumming ears, some enormous bulk seemed to stoop over her. Then the mist cleared. His eyes were rivetted upon the manuscript again, but he breathed as though he had been running.
So, thought, Harriet, it has happened.”

Who needs tiramisu?

I’d love to hear about your favourite fictional dates. Or funny dates from real life. It’s safe to tell me now, because the book is finished and I can’t use them.

HANK: Oh, how about when Prime Minister  Hugh Grant and Natalie are in the back of the limo with the lobster? Or when Colin Firth comes to find Aurelia? And she learned English "Just in cases"? I guess those aren't dates. 
Or Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart on The African Queen? When she pours out the gin and refuses to talk. Again, not actual dates. And movies, not books. 

Okay. One of my own such dates was on 1965-ish summer night when I went to the Zionsville town fair with Dave somebody or Mike somebody, and when I called my mom from a pay phone to see if I could stay out past ten, I was told "No, you have to come home. The barn is on fire." It was. And the ladies auxiliary was on our front lawn serving lemonade. True story.

How about you, Reds and readers?  



A community is devastated when the bronze statue of local legend Mama Cuento is stolen on Valentine’s Day. When Lexy Campbell arrives on the scene, a big bronze toe is found along with a ransom note – “Listen to our demands or you will never see her again. There are nine more where this came from”.

Then, Lexy’s ex-husband Bran turns up begging for help to find his wife, Brandee, who has disappeared. Lexy agrees to pitch in, but when she shows up at Bran’s house he has just discovered one of Brandee’s false nails and another ransom note with the same grisly message.

Are the two cases linked or is a copycat on the loose? Who would want to kidnap a bronze statue or, come to that, Brandee? And can Lexy put aside her hatred for Bran long enough to find out?



Catriona McPherson, multiple award-winner, multiple Mary Higgins Clark award loser, was born in Scotland and lived there until immigrating in 2010. She writes the Dandy Gilver series, set in the old country in the 1930s, as well as a strand of darker (not difficult) psychological thrillers including the latest STRANGERS AT THE GATE.

After eight years in the US, she kicked off the humorous Last Ditch series, which takes a wry look at her new home. The ebook of number three, SCOT ON THE ROCKS, is coming out early what with one thing and another. It will be available on 3 Aug.

Catriona lives on 20 scruffy acres in NorCal, with a black cat and a scientist.



“A hilarious romp that's dead serious when it comes to the tricky mystery and an unexpected denouement”
Kirkus Reviews on Scot and Soda


“McPherson stands apart in her ability to tell a hilarious tale while balancing the ramifications of crime”
Library Jounral on Scot and Soda


“Peppered with clever red herrings, the mystery gleefully revels in the absurd.”
 Publishers Weekly on Scot and Soda


“Jaunty pacing, a comically rendered Southern California setting, and quirky characters … A sure bet for fans of Janet Evanovich and Sarah Strohmeyer”
 Booklist on Scot Free

113 comments:

  1. I’m looking forward to reading your new Lexy story, Catriona . . . .

    Ah, no cringeworthy real-life dating disasters to tell about, but there’s a wonderful scene in “Disasters in Dating” by Danielle Allen when Desiree has two meet-for-coffee first dates. Her date with Eric devolves into an unsettling commentary on the cost of wardrobe items, wealth, and traveling as Eric spends the time talking about himself. Desiree tells him they’re definitely incompatible. His comment: “It’s your loss, beautiful . . . .” Next up is Brendan, who turns out to be several inches shorter than the six feet his dating profile claims. Curious, Desiree asks him about it and he angrily storms out of the coffee shop. Dating, I guess, can easily turn into a disaster . . . .

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    1. I went out once with a man who was inches shorter than his profile said. My thought was, And what else did you lie about? Once was enough.

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    2. Wonder why people lie about how tall they are? Kinda easy to see the lie, and instantly, and where do you go from there?

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    3. I'm up! My west-coast-ness always catches me out on guest-blogging days, but I'm here now.

      Joan - One of Lexy's dates in the book sees her thinking "ask me a question, ask me a question" knowing that if the guy makes another statement about himself, it's curtains.

      Re. the tall thing. (Hank knows this because she's met us) - that boy I went to get a baked potato with in 1985 is still here. He's two inches shorter than I am! One time, a new (tall) friend said "You must really really love him". I looked at her tall husband and wondered how he felt. It seemed that his wife had just basically said "you're pretty awful in general, but crack out that tape measure and you're a catch".

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  2. As if I already couldn’t wait to read this next Levy Campbell, the.one brass toe and there are nine more where this came from has me cackle laughing now. And, that cover is fantastic.

    In dating, there’s always room for disaster, but if you can look at it with a sense of humor, it’s not so bad. Way back In the olden days when I was in college, I went out on what you (and I) would think was going to be quite a romantic date. A ward or adopted son or some sort of other of a professor of mine wanted to go out with me. He planned a picnic to a state park, and he said he would bring the food and drink. Well, Mr. Romance found a nice isolated patch of grass where he spread a blanket and placed a picnic basket. I was thinking, yes, this is looking good. Right? Well, okay, the conversation had been a little dull, but now we were going to have a lovely lunch, and I was hungry. Oh, the days when I was thin and could eat anything. Mr. Romance opened up the basket and place some cheese and crackers and some juice on the blanket. Then, he closed the basket back up. What? Where’s the food, man? So, while I was eating cheese and crackers and starving, I was working out how to never go out with this guy again without offending my professor. Maybe if I had actually been attracted to the guy, the cheese and crackers might have been enough, but when somebody says they’re going to feed me lunch anymore, I get details. Of course, there was the time when another guy on another date actually took me to a restaurant and squirted catsup all over my shirt as he was trying to get it out. So, I guess I was just damned if starved or damned if I ate.

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    1. I think someone asked yesterday why the women were always responsible for the food--see? This is why.

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    2. Kathy - a "ward" has such a Victorian ring to it. I would have assumed he was a prince in hiding. But crackers on a blanket? COME ON!

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    3. Crackers on a blanket. Hmm. Title for something?

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  3. I love these descriptions as much as I love you, Catriona! In my first Country Store mystery, my protag goes on a fun first dinner-and-country-dancing date with her green-eyed real estate agent. They come back to her store to blue lights flashing and news that someone has been found dead with one of her cheesy biscuits stuffed in his mouth. Yeah, that relationship was doomed.

    When I was hanging out on match.com after my divorce (in my early fifties), I weeded through a lot of liars and losers before finding the gem I've been with for seventeen years. One guy had a reasonable attractive photo and described himself as "fit and athletic." I was actually fit and athletic at the time but had checked off "average" for my body type. I made the mistake of agreeing to movie AND dinner with an out-of-shape man who did nothing but whine about his ex wife. The longest evening of my life...

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    1. Oh - who was possibly not yet EX (cf. "liars" above)...

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    2. Uh-oh. Yes, that refinement from "divorced", to "separated" to "it's complicated" - I've heard about that from Match.com survivors

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  4. You’re hysterical Catriona! My worst state was definitely with Jim in high school. He was the president or vice president of the class ahead of me – very important. I could not think of one single thing to say the whole night. Nothing. So humiliated and obviously I was not invited out again! Looking forward to reading your book with all those missing toes…

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    1. Awww.. Those are SO awful. And all you can think about is how you can;t think of anything. But now we know when it's the right guy, you don;t have to "think" of anything.

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    2. Lucy - that was him, not you. . And Hank, you're dead right - we say "married talk" meaning remarks of such inanity you should be ashamed of them but you're not and you don't have to be because "married talk".

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  5. Considering the final three attempts I made at dating someone are collectively known as The Disaster, The Aftershock and The Regret, I have no funny real life date stories.

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    1. Oh no! (That wasn't sympathy, Jay. That was regret that I didn't give Lexy's dates titles.)

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    2. Yes, it's so great, isn't it? I mean--now.

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  6. What fun reading about those dates! I'm hooked. The worst date I can think of wasn't one of mine - those I am sure I have totally blacked out - but to a friend. I was in high school and the Key club was putting on a dance. At home we were having company and my mother said that I could not to to the dance unless "Betty" could too. Betty being part of the company. My boyfriend rummaged around and came up with someone for Betty. It was the most horrible thing and I cringe just thinking about it. The dance was A penny A Pound dance which meant the girls hopped up on the scale and the guys payed the number shown on the scale. I didn't mention that Betty was a husky girl. What humiliation for her! No one ever spoke of it again but I hope that there was never a dance like that again either.

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    1. Did you ever read Carrie? Proves what a motivator humiliation is. I hope Betty is now supremely happy.

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    2. A penny a pound dance? Wow. I mean . . . wow.

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  7. A baked potato, eh? Living high off the hog, you were.

    Max de Winter: when you put it THAT way. What was she thinking?

    When I was in high school I had a big crush on an older man. He'd been in Navy and had been all over the world already, and he enjoyed having me around, for the adoration, I'm sure. He invited me to go fishing with him on what I assumed was a real double date. The fishing was done by the guys, and the other female was a nude dancer with what I realized then was obviously dyed hair and a pot belly. We basically were there for, what? I never did figure it out. He later did take me on real dates.

    Can't wait to hear more about Lexy and her crazy pals, Catriona!

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    1. YIKES! That sounds incredibly scary.

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    2. It wasn't scary, Hank. I trusted him, and the other guy, who is still a friend. But meeting the other woman was a HUGE eye-opener for me. I might have thought that an exotic dancer would be cool, but the grim reality was that she was kind of sad and pathetic, and had much more limited options than I did, even though I was only sixteen at the time. I count that afternoon as one of my major life lessons.

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    3. I should have said I trusted the guys, because they basically treated me like a cute little sister, which is why it wasn't scary.

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    4. Thank God for your update, Karen, because I was just thinking I might have a guess at why they invited you. Now, I'm wondering about the conversation between the two men. One brings and exotic dancer and the other brings a kid sister. That afternoon was a miss all round.

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    5. Oh, whew, Karen. Such a moment, though..

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  8. As always, you are hysterical, Catriona.

    I didn't date much when I was younger. The upside is I don't have any horrific dating stories. The downside is I don't have any horrific dating stories. LOL

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    1. I've got the one form our first dating-anniversary, where Neil booked a table at an Italian restaurant (a big deal because we were broke students). It was just us and the local football (soccer) team at their post-season celebration. They got totally hammered and bellowed at the tops of their voices. By the time we left, one of them was passed out and lying flat on his back down the middle of the table like a centrepiece.

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  9. LOVE Catriona's "voice"! I've been a huge fan since she introduced us to Dandy Gilver.

    Like Liz, I didn't date when I was younger. Back then there was no "swiping." We got "fixed up" on "blind dates." Does anyone use that terminology any longer?

    I had some less than memorable dates (one guy told me he was Roy Orbison (who'd just released his first big hit)in disguise because if he revealed his true identity he'd be mobbed by his fans... and I played along. He had a long convoluted explanation about why he drove an aging Buick). It scares me what I got up to... my parents slept through my teen years.

    I got 'fixed up' with my husband in my junior year at college (he was an ex boyfriend's roommate). I wasn't sold at first, but he was persistent.

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    1. Yes, it was all fix ups and mixers." ARGH. Hideous.

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    2. OMG, Hallie - yes! Now, when my sisters and I reminisce about what we did as teenagers my mum lies back in her chair and tries to avoid the retrospective vapours.

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    3. Catriona, that's what I do when my own grown daughters reminisce!

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    4. My daughter wrote me a letter of apology when she had teenagers of her own.

      Payoffs are a bitch

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  10. This book looks like a good one and I like your cover.
    I once had a date, after my divorce, with a guy that seemed very interesting but over a lunch, I learned that he lived with a " female co-loc " ??? and he seemed more interested to move to another place than he was in me. Yack!

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    1. Hidden agendas--so terrifying. And hilarious, looking back now.

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    2. Danielle - he straight up tried to move you to a second location? Yeek.

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  11. One date in high school and one in college. I remember the high school date because Earthquake was playing in the next theater. I don't remember the college one, we were supposed to be a dance. I think he cancelled. I'm trying to think of a disastrous date in books. I know I've read them but I'm drawing a complete blank. Catriona: discovers one of her false nails? Ouch!

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    1. See now, at the time that might not have felt all that great but now it sounds lovely! Two date and you managed to dodge one? Perfect.

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    2. Think of all the terrible times you missed--yay!

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  12. Catriona, darling, you are the funniest person I know. But you didn't tell us about your first date with Neil? Of was there one? Did he spring, fully formed and married, from your chest?

    Of course I've ordered the newest book. And both of us adored hearing you last night on the MWA podcast. Laurie King was also a great moderator.

    I remember my first date in highschool. His name was Jerry Gibbs, and he was a star of the football team. We double dated, had to sit in the back seat of some smelly old prewar car, and he tried to stick his tongue down my throat. It isn't my favorite memory. I didn't go back for more.

    How do the teenagers of today date? Masks and social distancing must really get in the way of heavy snogging.

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    1. Oh, and the best date ever? Not in a book but in a movie, the deli scene in "When Harry Met Sally"

      I'll have what she's having.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hY7_CNuEQY#action=share

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  13. Neil was the baked potato! I came home and he was in my kitchen (one of my flatmates knew him and was letting him crash on the floor before setting off on a field trip the next morning). The night turned into a party - because six girls had just moved into our first flat and PARTY! About 11pm, having talked since 7, Neil and I went to Spud-U-Like. And the rest is history. Really boring history. Boy meets girl. The end.

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    1. Yup. Jonathan and I were never apart after the first time we met.

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    2. Us, too, Hank. He'd been married already and had a young daughter. I'd never married my mistakes.

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  14. I just remembered a fantastic semi-fictional date: James Herriot and Helen Alderton in the second Yorkshire Vet book. Maybe . . . IT SHOULDN'T HAPPEN TO A VET?

    Giggling little siblings at the pick-up, a flat tyre, going back to borrow her father's dancing shoes because his get wrecked in a puddle, they get to the hotel and there's no dinner dance, so there they are in tails and backless satin, with everyone else in day clothes. And the menu's in French, and he can't afford the wine . . .

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    1. Oh, I LOVE that!! They're showing the series on my PBS station and it has been such a treat to watch. I have all the books, too, some of them signed. Might be a good time to reread...

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  15. Welcome, Catriona. I must read this book. I love funny! But, not going to tell you about me. Too many to choose from!

    Favorite romantic literary moment: Deborah Crombie's detectives Gemma and Duncan are returning to London after solving a case. Gemma is driving her old car with worn out tires. There is tension between her and her then boss because she is sure that he has had a dalliance with one of the suspects in their case and she is just a mess. It is pouring rain, the car gets a flat tire which Gemma insists on changing by herself and he stands outside the car getting equally as wet. They arrive at his apartment and he convinces her to come inside to dry off. He helps her with the towel and next thing you know there is a clutch and then there are clothes all over the floor. When Gemma gets up in the morning she is horrified, retrieves her clothes and sneaks off. He happily snuggles in under the covers and thinks that his life is now complete. Everyone now, wait for the next book!

    Yes, Deb, it's really one of the best and you take your time making Gemma see the light. I don't think Duncan ever fully understands women, but he makes up for it by being the best guy in the world. Who doesn't love him?

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    1. SO much even to read your summation!

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    2. I love it! Gemma not letting him help but him standing getting soaked anyway, is so true-to-life.

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    3. Thank you, Judy!! I do love that scene!!! Maybe I should reread that, too...

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  16. Maxim de Winter places second behind Mr. Rochester for worst date/husband. I am third.

    Jim

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    1. Date, maybe, Jim. Husband, surely not!

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    2. Jim, I am positive you would make the best date ever, husband too.

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    3. Pfft. You forgot that bossy, supercilious splainer Mr Knightley in EMMA. You;re bumped to fourth, Jim.

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    4. I forgot to congratulate you, Catriona! See? I am third. Well, third best fan/friend, anyway.

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  17. Ocht and I knew this would happen if I picked five. Since Hank is letting films in, I'm adding telly. David and Patrick's first date (or was it? Was it? It was right? Or maybe not.) on SCHITT'S CREEK.

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  18. Hey Catriona! I'm still waiting for a Hugh/Dandy courting story. There have to be some good/bad dates there. In college blind dates were big. I mean here was a university with 40,000 students and it just wasn't done to attend a football game without a date! Horrors. My success rate was 50%, meaning the date wasn't too painful, no serial killers, but I'd rather have stayed home with a good book. But they were educational. Like, okay, so this is what a frat party is like that is a kegger. Okay. Don't have to repeat that. Yawn.
    I met my husband on a blind date. We dated off and on while he was in school off and on. Somehow I managed to date guys who were broke. One of our "dates" was Frank entertaining me with conversation and maybe a Coke while he did his laundry at a washateria. As one of my friends put it, you were either a girl who got wined and dined at fancy places or you were a Moore Burger girl.

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    1. Hey, I've had a date in a launderette. In Mystic, CT in December. It was . . . atmospheric. Great pizza, mind you.

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    2. "no serial killers" is a pretty low bar...xoxoo

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  19. Okay, first, I have to say how chuffed I am (blending in with the natives, here) to see another Lexy book out, and that I LOVE the cover re-vamping Catriona's publisher has done with the series! Check out all three books to see what I mean.

    Two bad dates, one mine, one from by BFF/college roommate, Rachael. Mine shows the peril of youthful dating: I was living in DC while getting my masters degree, and saying yes to practically any invitation in order to expand my social life in a new city. This very pulled-together young admissions officer from Georgetown asked me out. You've all seen this guy - immaculate chinos, blue blazer, pink button down oxford. Nice loafers.

    So he takes me out to a great lunch place in Georgetown, and we're eating outside, and he's not the greatest conversationalist, but it's okay.... and then he sets down his sweet tea and leans on the table and says, "I'm looking for a woman to marry and to have my children. Are you interested in being a stay-at-home mom?"

    Needless to say, our first date was also the last.

    Rachael's date story is at the other end of the spectrum: she was on Match.com after her divorce, and in her early fifties. She was corresponding online with an interesting-sounding man who said he was in his early sixties, and she jumped at the chance when he offered to take her up in his small plane. She got to the regional airport, found the tie-down, and nearly fainted when an old geezer who appeared to be 85 at the earliest greeted her. She said she was genuinely afraid to get in the cockpit with him for fear he might die during the flight.

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    1. Lying about your age is right up there with lying about your height, isn't it? If you say your 60 when you're 80, the best take-away is "You look terrible".

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    2. My sister always says she's older than she is. Then when people meet her, they're delighted.

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    3. I like your sister's style, Hank. I once started a talk I was giving by relating that I'd just been to a high school reunion and had made a decision to start lying about my age. Adding ten years.

      Julia, a friend of mine has met hundreds of guys through online dating, and she's starting an online dating site herself. She is incredibly good at spotting the liars online. And what, exactly, they're lying about. I live in awe.

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    4. Ah, stop right there. That is a PERFECT set up for a cozy. Dibs.

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  21. I have to throw in Anne Cleeland's Acton and Doyle mysteries. In the first book "Murder in Thrall" Lord Acton and PC Doyle are on a stakeout or so Kathleen Doyle thinks (it is a ploy) when her superior proposes they marry. She says they should probably have a first date, but he thought THIS was a date.

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    1. Oh! I forgot about them. That is an interesting relationship, isn't it?

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    2. Oh yes, Alice. You know how I love this couple, too. It is such a unique coming together and relationship. Never dull.

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  22. Hi, Catriona! What a delightful post! Dating? Lord, it's been a minute, hasn't it?

    Most awkward date for me was when I was out on the town with the new guy, drinking pints in New Haven, when the former boyfriend strolled into the pub. The brooding stare from across the bar about did me in! Yes, this is me, the girl who hates conflict. Long story short, I left with the wrong guy, because of course I did. Damn you, Charlotte Bronte! Side note: Heathcliff is also a terrible boyfriend.

    Thank you so much for referencing Gaudy Night! I love Lord Peter and Harriet so much and this is my fave volume of Sayers's series. Can't wait to snag your latest Lexy! Bravo!

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    1. LOVe Peter and Harriet. As a namesake, she was my only go to.

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  23. Heathcliff! Jim Ziskin slips to fifth.

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    1. I was thinking of him... Yes. And worst girlfriend? Estella from Great Expectations?

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    2. Fifth, eh? Who’s a great catch now?

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    3. And Jim Ziskin can court you in Romance languages. So, I don't think he's in the running here.

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    4. And nobody beats Jim's hair!

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  24. In the 80s,my boyfriend and I went to see Back to the Future. The theater was pretty empty, maybe 10 people. Before the movie started a young man sat right on the other side of me and talked to me throughout the movie. Luckily, my boyfriend thought it was funny but I was kind of annoyed. Your books sound interesting. And I agree Heathcliff was awful.

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    1. You must have just been so irresistible!

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    2. Talking during the film would strike him off my list. Even if he was Idris Elba. Or Jackson Brodie. Or - I should stop this list in case Neil drops by.

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  25. How about Romeo? Talk about being led astray. Jim Ziskin slips to sixth.

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    1. Hank, he speaks Italian. He's not even in the running.

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    2. Cyrano de Bergerac - for God's sake, man, it's a nose! Jim is now at lucky number 7.

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    3. Catriona, last one. And, I believe, this one moves to number one worst husband/boyfriend. I humbly submit, for your consideration, Humbert Humbert.

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    4. This is making my day. I'm Clarice Starling. Lovely to meet you, Dr. Lecter. But I guess... that wasn't a date. Until later. A dinner date, right? In the terrible last book?

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  26. Hank, I love your picks!

    Hi Catriona! It was great meeting you at Malice Domestic, then again at Sisters of Crime in CA and again at LCC in Vancouver! Harriet and Peter are among my favorite fictional couples. I also loved the Aunt Gardiner and her husband in Pride and Prejudice. They really connected with each other. I have many wonderful fictional couples that I love. Too many to list here.

    Diana

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    1. The Gardners in the Joe Wright/Keira Knightley film are eating in every scene. Even when their carriage overturns and they're waiting on a tussock for help to arrive. It's a relationship based entirely on pies and I love them.

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    2. Thanks! I had forgotten about that. I have seen several different adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. I was thinking of the first version that I saw with Daniel Rintoul (the Crown, Doctor Finlay, Midsomer Murders) as Darcy and Elizabeth Garvey as Eliza. I think it was a BBC adaptation from 1982?

      Diana

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  27. Hi Catriona!! I can't wait to read a new Lexy!!! Thanks for reminding us of all the great dates--I think Peter and Harriett punting might be my all time favorite.

    Here's a complicated one. My then ex-boyfriend (now husband) rang me up one night and said he'd met this nice Scottish guy and I should come along for a drink, which I did. Totally smitten with nice Scottish guy. Whirlwind romance. Six weeks later he says I should move to Scotland and we should get married, so I did. Unfortunately, he'd forgotten to mention that not only was he still married to someone else, but he was LIVING with the girlfriend he'd left his wife for. And that we would be moving in with his parents. Fifteen years and a divorce later, I married the ex-boyfriend.

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    1. This competition is now closed to further entries. That is a bad date!

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    2. Whoa. ANd...we have a winner. :-)

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  28. ZIONSVILLE, Hank! Love this series and everything Catriona writes. I only have horror stories (not funny one) until I met my husband. On our first date, we both had to admit that, though we had met when he lit a cigarette for me (yes, I know), neither of us smoked.

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    1. Yup. Zionsville. (9504 Moore Road.) Can't you instantly think of the Zionsville team mascot name?

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    2. What? You asked him if he had a light as a way of starting a conversation? And he did? I don't . . .

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  29. I've loved all the stories, both life and fiction, but don't seem to remember my own. I've been married a long, long time, but didn't exactly marry young. Must be some significant repression going on! But I did just re-watch an older movie with what may be the worst and funnies blind date ever! Not a well known movie but very amusing and also surprisingly touching - Bye, Bye Love. Adventures of 3 divorced dads, plus a radio shrink who is a kind of Greek chorus. The angriest, who never dates, Randy Quaid, on the blind date from hell with deranged Janeane Garofalo. The night gets more and more crazy for all the friends and ends with Randy...that would be a spoiler. And the expertly done epilogue that ties up all the stories ties up his with some further inspired surprises.

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    1. Triss, I just re-watched WITH SIX YOU GET EGG ROLL, Doris day's last film. She has some lovely/awful dates with Brian Keith in it.

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    2. Haven't seen that Doris Day in years, but remember loving it when I first saw it. Like you, I do love me some Doris Day. Teacher's Pet is still a fave, since I majored in journalism.

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  30. A friend is happily married and raising two daughters with a wonderful man she met through "It's Just Lunch." We initially referred to him as "the upgrade" because of her previous beau, and absolute "good riddance."
    Back in the '70s friends privately agreed to "try to find someone nice for Mary." My tendency to see the best in everyone isn't always for the best. The best seems to come from initial friendship, respect, and dedication to worthwhile goals, Ron and Hermione working to defeat Voldemort . . . and more, but my mind is blank . . .

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  31. Back in the late seventies, I lived in Astoria, NY, but Manhattan was my stomping ground. I was 20 something, newly separated, divorced to be, and I answered an ad in the personals. She turned out to be a speech pathologist, working on a doctorate. I had a good job, money in my pocket, most of my hair and all of my teeth and game for almost anything. I got us tickets to a Broadway show about the life of Edith Piaf. Oddly, I don’t remember there being any music in the show, but whatever. Sometime after that date, she told me that while we didn’t have any “chemistry”, she had a friend, an audiologist that would love to meet me. Like I said, I was game for almost anything. I called her and we made a date for lunch. On the appointed day, I put on my best Sunday casual and made my way to Manhattan. I purchased a single yellow long stemmed rose as an offering. We were going to meet on the corner of 59 th and Fifth Avenue, where the Plaza Hotel was. I don’t know what is there now. Well before cell phones, so you just showed up and waited and hoped. And there she was, yellow long-stemmed rose in hand. (Sort of like the Twilight Zone, in a good way.) I am a bachelor to this day.

    I will put this book on my list. Scotland is on my bucket list.

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  32. Best way I ever got asked out on a first date was years ago when I was in the Air Force Reserves. I was lying/laying? on my stomach in the 'bomb bay' (refueling section) of a KC-135, as the 135 was about to refuel a fighter jet (F-4, I think.) The young fighter pilot in the jet beneath me began flirting with me (I couldn't see his face because he had on a helmet and gear, and as I recall, he couldn't see mine either, but that didn't stop us from having a fun flirt in the sky, which within a few moments led to him asking me out. I said yes, of course. I mean, come on--Top Gun! :) It was a fun date, but he was just flying through...

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