A Valentine to Writers

by Gayle Bartos-Pool

As a writer, a reader, and a watcher of television shows, I have seen my share of romance portrayed in various ways. If you have viewed any of the shows on the various Hallmark channels you might have an idea where part of this blog is going. Those shows, as nice as they are, both their mysteries and their romances, are all pretty much alike. Gal meets guy, they clash, they see some potential in each other, then something pops up that makes them each think this will never work, but during the last five minutes of every show the truth comes out, they really are meant for each other, they kiss. End of story.

Some books and shows, even on the Hallmark channels, do have a different view of life and love. I wish there was more variety, but I understand that some publishers and producers have a formula they wish their authors and screenwriters to follow. In the majority of them, usually in the romance genre or mystery/romance genre, the romance part might be sweet, but the outcome is preordained. But is all romance or even, dare I say it, love, so predictable? What about what happens in real life? In your life?

Since this blog is the first in a series entitled: Write What You Know… and Make Up the Rest, let me share a page from my own life. I have had many jobs where I learned things that ended up in my novels and short stories. One really nice thing that happened while working at a bank is the story I am going to tell you now.

One day while working at the bank I caught a glimpse of faded denim jeans and a pair of cowboy boots on some guy’s feet in my boss’s office. I looked through the opening and saw a nice looking guy chatting with her. The guy ended up working for me. His name was Richard. I was given two people to train at the same time. Both Richard and a woman. She needed her hand held through the entire process. My section dealt with stocks and bonds, purchase offers and mergers. This was the one place in the Trust Department of Lloyd’s Bank that could actually lose money (other than a bank robbery) if we didn’t get assets to the right place before a deadline. The lady who hired me said it was like spinning plates on poles. I would have to keep all those plates turning or the bank could lose millions. The gal I was trying to train ended up going to another department because she couldn’t spin all those plates.

Richard was a different story. I would give him a rough idea of what was needed and he did it. Never lost a dime. We even got a commendation from the bank when we saved them about $30,000 when a customer asked the impossible. We made it happen. Then I asked Richard over for dinner one night. We talked about movies we both liked and the books we had read. We started dating. But there was a problem. The bank had a policy that employees couldn’t date. Dilemma. Richard knew I was getting close to tenure. After ten years on the job, I would be eligible for a pension eventually. He offered to look for another job. He got one at a broker’s office making more money than he was making at the bank.

Then a job offer came my way. Our biggest client wanted someone to do basically what I had been doing at the bank. I would have taken it, but the bank had another “policy” that said employees at the bank and this investment firm wouldn’t steal each other’s employees. I mentioned to the lady who had wanted to hire me that this former employee of the bank would be a great alternative. Of course it was Richard and he got the job at nearly twice what I was making. Then one evening when he was visiting me at home he asked me to marry him.

Now you have to understand my situation. I was thirty-eight years old, five years older than he was. I had been on my own for a long time. I didn’t know if I was cut out for marriage. I told him that. He said he’d wait for me to make a decision. For nearly a year he kept asking me if I wanted to get married. I kept saying I was thinking about it. Then one day I was listening to music at home. Several were songs about love and I realized I had absolutely no reason NOT to marry him. I knew it was his laundry day. I drove down to Monterey Park where he lived and found his laundromat. Richard was kind of surprised to see me, but he kept pulling his clothes out of the dryer and folding them. Finally he looked up and casually asked me to marry him… and I said “Yes.” It took him a few seconds to realize what I had said.

Now we had to plan our wedding. Neither of us wanted anything fancy, but I did have a date in mind. I think it was mid-summer at the time, but I wanted to get married on New Year’s Eve because my parents had eloped on that day and I always thought it was so romantic. My parents had a regular wedding the following April. They just wanted to get married. If you’re wondering if they had to get married… No. My brother was born almost five years after their elopement.

So Richard and I made plans. We found a minister who would come to the little duplex apartment I had in Glendale on New Year’s Eve. My landlords would stand up for us. I called my parents to tell them the news and they insisted on coming out, so mom and dad drove from Memphis to Glendale that December. Dad gave me away, but true to my dad’s independent streak, he insisted on saying the he and my mother were doing the honors. My cats, Sylvester and Angel, were there as well. So were all my Christmas decorations and trees with all the Santas I had collected to that point. I think my collection totaled over a thousand at that time. It was crowded in that little apartment, but at eight o’clock on New Year’s Eve 1986, Richard J. Pool and I were married.

So many love stories you read or see in the movies, or any story with some romance in it, has that formula I mentioned at the beginning of this piece. But love isn’t a formula. There might be chemistry, but each is its own unique blend. In the case between Richard and me, we always got along. We liked the same things, laughed together often, went places together, and never really had an argument about anything. We were a team. I’d go to the hardware store with him, and bless his heart, he actually went to a fabric store with me… once. He knew my desire to write. That was actually the one thing that I thought might be a roadblock to us getting married, but he said he would make sure I had all the time I needed to write. The fact he was making twice what I made at the bank allowed me to retire early and continue my writing. He made that happen.

I use a character based pretty much on Richard in my Ginger Caulfield mysteries. Gin owns the detective agency and Fred, the name I gave to Ginger’s husband, does leg work for her when the opportunity arises. Fred works for an investment firm as his day job. (You see, I use stuff from real life in my work.) Fred will eventually join Ginger at the agency because Fred is very good at getting the job done, just like Richard was at the bank. Fred and Ginger work well together.

Richard and I were always a team, maybe like Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series. We were equals. No angst, just respect and a sense of humor. I always like seeing that in books and movies and I hope to see more of that kind of love in the future. The gal doesn’t have to be better than the guy, they just use the strengths they each have together. You see, Richard and I really took our vows seriously: To love, honor, and cherish, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live… and beyond.

Happy Valentine’s Day my friends.

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Author: gbpool

A former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool (writing as G.B. Pool) writes three detective series: the Gin Caulfield P.I. series (Media Justice, Hedge Bet & Damning Evidence), The Johnny Casino Casebook Series, and the Chance McCoy detective series. She also penned a series of spy novels, The SPYGAME Trilogy: The Odd Man, Dry Bones, and Star Power. She has a collection of short stories in From Light To DARK, as well as novels: Eddie Buick’s Last Case, Enchanted: The Ring, The Rose, and The Rapier, The Santa Claus Singer, and three delightful holiday storied, Bearnard’s Christmas, The Santa Claus Machine, and Every Castle Needs a Dragon. Also published: CAVERNS, Only in Hollywood, and Closer. She is the former Speakers Bureau Director for Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and also a member of Mystery Writers of America and The Woman’s Club of Hollywood. She teaches writing classes: “Anatomy of a Short Story,” (The Anatomy of a Short Story Workbook and So You Want to be a Writer are available.) “How To Write Convincing Dialogue” and “Writing a Killer Opening Line” in sunny Southern California. Website: www.gbpool.com.

19 thoughts on “A Valentine to Writers”

  1. Happy Valentine’s day, Gayle! My heart is overflowing from you and Richard’s love story. “To love, honor, and cherish, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live… and beyond.” Love you and Richard’s picture, and loved your post on so many levels. Valentine’s day is Lar and moi’s anniversary-1969. You’ve gotten me remembering….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a wonderful love story! And Happy Valentine’s Day. Fred and I got officially engaged on Valentine’s Day, so it’s significant to me in multiple ways, too. Thanks for a delightful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful post! And I agree about all the formula love stories. I met my husband on a blind date when I was a senior in high school. He was a darling sailor–and to be honest I fell for his looks. He was a Sea Bee stationed in Port Hueneme. My folks liked him too, and he visited nearly every weekend. When it got close to time for him to be transferred to the East Coast, he proposed. Mom wouldn’t give permission for me to marry at 17, but in October, we took a train to MD> where I got married to the handsome sailor. Mom went home and I stayed. It wasn’t all wonderful==but 69 years, 5 kids, lots of grands and great, and 5 great-greats, we’re still together and much more in love than in the beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marilyn, I always enjoy the pictures of your family, so your love story is a great one as well. Thanks for sharing those photos and memories with us.

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  4. What an absolutely lovely post, GB–and a terrific love story. I had the privilege of knowing Richard, and seeing the two of you together, I can attest that you had the Real Thing. Class acts, both of you. Thanks for sharing your story here.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Gayle – such a special love story you and Richard have. Always so romantic. And, yes, your ‘plotting’ of a real, authentic love story, is much more interesting than any fiction.
    Your husband Richard was a very special man – and I had the privilege of knowing him through you, for many years. We also discovered that you and your Richard, and I and my husband ‘Richard’ (always known as Rick) got married on the same day of the same year. So I fondly remember often celebrating our anniversaries together, just the four of us. I think there’s another story line to follow there. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with us.

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  6. Rosemary, So glad we got to share our anniversaries together. We do have those stories to add to some of our other writing.

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  7. Gayle, sorry for not answering sooner – I switched over to Chrome and am still fiddling with the process, thus I only received your blog in my gmail today.
    A wonderful, storybook romance and all true. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Gayle, I teared up reading your post today, knowing you both and witnessing your love story. I didn’t know the whole story about those early years when you two fell in love, but it doesn’t surprise me. No one would call me a romantic – I divorced husband #1 on Valentines Day – but finally meeting the love of my life changed my attitude about the holiday. And I agree – formulaic love stories are easier to crank out, which I suppose is why writers revert to formulas. Still, the one thing they usually get right is that love happens when and where you least expect it. Happy Valentines Day to all.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a sweet post, Gayle. Thanks for the reminder that love and friendship can blossom and grow at any age. And even in mysteries (thrillers too), a romance can work to increase suspense, or provide a splash of humor. I like how you have made Gin and Fred images of your own marriage. Maybe a poignant sequel would be good to the series, especially if a dastardly murderer is caught and punished.
    A great, sentimental, and inspiring post, Gayle.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Gayle, I LOVE this post. It makes me think of my own marriage. Glen and I are best friends, we work as a team, and support each other in all ways. He’s very romantic. Like you, I was pushing 40 when we tied the knot—-best decision I ever made (and that he ever made!)

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