Friday, January 05, 2018

That Magic Moment! Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet by Jennifer L. Armentrout et al

The morning began like any other Monday morning. The B train rolled into the station right as I swiped my MetroCard. I was going to be on time for school, and things were okay.

And then, something happened that changed my life. Something that wouldn't have happened if the constellation of minuscule events in my life hadn't aligned perfectly to deliver me to this exact moment.

I saw him.

A girl and a boy staring at each other through the windows of two train cars passing in the early morning light.

Every moment of that morning seems to have been inevitable. She has to see the boy in the blue hoodie again--which means she has to be on the same train, at the same time, in front of the same door on that side, and.... so does he. What are the odds?

The heroine of this short story happens to be engrossed in her AP statistics class, and she turns the computation of the unlikely possibility of again seeing her soul mate into her final project of the semester. But all the while, as she's calculating the probabilities of subway systems and daily crowd flow, she thinks she's in love. Can she come up with an algorithm that will put them together predictably?

But then one morning, everything goes wrong. She leaves the poster for her all-important project presentation behind at home and has to jump off her train at the next stop and catch the B train going back the other way to retrieve it. And again fate steps in a most improbable set of circumstances.

That day that our stories finally led us to meet face-to-face was the day nothing at all went according to plan, and the good ol' universe did what it wanted to do anyway.

Jocelyn Davies' story, "The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love," is but one of the tales of the "cute meet" storyline celebrated in fiction and film, in the fourteen stores in Meet Cute (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). With light and skillful storytelling, the authors ask the big question of LOVE--is it predestined for "star-crossed lovers?" Is it eternal fate or an accident of chance? The collection features a variety of genres, a future fantasy, "The Department of Dead Love," by Nicola Yoon in which teen Thomas Mark, the victim of a break-up, visits a bureaucracy, the Department of Dead Love, to meet a Heart Worker at the Relationship Autopsy desk, hoping to qualify for a Do-Over with his ex, Samantha, and finally realizes that in his heart he's actually falling for the Heart Worker herself.

In another riveting meeting, "259 Million Miles" by Kass Morgan, two finalists for the one-way mission to Mars meet in a test of compatibility and discover that they are very compatible, with only one to be chosen for the mission. Talk about your long-distance relationships!

And one of the best, "Click" by Katherine McGee, picks up the story of Alexa, clutching her smartphone with a chip directing her to a date with her purported perfect match, chosen by a internet dating service called Click. But when she accidentally leaves her phone with the Click chip behind in her taxi, she has to depend upon a helpful young man named Raden who offers his phone and help in finding her phone in time to make her big date. The two track the taxi driver across Manhattan and end up in a grimey food shop, "Jersey's Finest Tacos," somewhere across the river, in a cute meet that unexpectedly but ultimately clicks for the unplanned couple, including that traditional scenario of a meaningful kiss in the first snowflakes of winter, along with a great closing line....

"So, said Raden, holding out a hand, "now that we've found your phone, I'd like to go on a date. Can I interest you in a taco?"

"I'd love a taco," she declared and grinned. "I hear they're Jersey's finest!"

In the best tradition of "That's the story of, that's the glory of love," this collection of short romance stories is a lighthearted, yet surprisingly deep read with all the fun of falling in love--without all the problems of relationships that may follow--but which still manages to transmit some of the wisdom of the many ways of love, even at first meet.



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