This publication marks a major milestone in my creative writing – it’s the first acceptance I’m being paid for! It’s a token payment, and they pay via PayPal, so there’s no check to frame and hang on my wall, but I’ll still take it. Another first for this one is that it was professionally edited by the publication. Everything I’ve had published so far was as I submitted it, unless the editor made some slight changes that I didn’t notice. But this one came back to me with some good suggestions for my approval, which was cool. The editor also changed the title from my Fastest Date in the West to Sticky Singles. You can decide which you like more after you read it.
What else was really cool about this publication is that I had the opportunity to read my piece out loud to the publication’s audience. They do a monthly reading with their contributors. I would have loved to do this and would have made it work if at all possible. Unfortunately, the evening of the reading will be the first day of eight days of adventuring into the super high altitude of the Andes in Bolivia up Illimani and Sajama peaks, so I will be totally unavailable. I hope to have another chance like this though! But if you are available on Saturday, October 15, you can attend the reading and hear some of the other great authors share their work.
Now, for the background. The genesis of this story is a woman named Clara, who was the roommate of a friend of mine more than two decades ago. She was a living statue in Boston and I met her only two or three times, but all that silver costume paint caking her bathtub never left my mind completely. Much later, during my dating life in Boulder, I went out with two men who did some busking on the Pearl Street mall – one a musician and one a magician. Those dates took place at the same time as both the MeToo movement and the increasing coverage of incels (involuntary celibates. See, for example, The New Yorker and Vox). So my brain put two + two + two together and this story was born.
Also, the terrible date got his name from a guy (not a busker) named Byron who I went on a few dates with. He was very, very immature in how he related to women for someone in his thirties. I called him out on it a few times and he was super apologetic, but would then do something manipulative or negging again. He really needed to do a lot of work on himself before I would have ever dated him seriously. He wasn’t as bad as my character, and he was a super interesting person in other aspects, but using the name still felt fitting to me.
Finally, I’ll mention that this was originally going to be full short story length, rather than flash fiction. I had the first seven pages workshopped by a group some time ago, but, after staring at it for several years, I couldn’t decide where I wanted the story to go. So, after slashing a character (who I’ll save for another tale) and making a few other adjustments, I had a flash fiction story ready to send out into the world. And now you can read it here. Enjoy!