I’m still plodding through revision comments. It has taken a long time this time because I have to stop frequently and bang my head against the wall. I also wander into the kitchen and down chocolate in large quantities. Today my editor and I are having a disagreement. This is not unusual, but what is unusual is that our life experiences have taught us completely opposite things about dating.
Here is the situation:
In my book the hero is 19 and has lived on his own for three years. He thinks that the heroine, who is only 17 and in high school is too young for him. (She convinces him otherwise.)
In Janette’s world, college guys rarely dated anyone in high school. I grew up in a small college town and although we sometimes went up to campus or frequented the same restaurants, the college kids at WSU thought that high school students were too young to date. When my friends and I went to hang out at the river, I remember many a guy taking off quickly when he found out we were still in high school. (In fact, this is when I first heard the term, jail bait.)
It became sort of a game for us to not let them know right away that we went to high school because we knew what the end result would be. And really, even if the guys hadn’t thought we were too young, our parents would have. I remember once telling my friend’s college professor father (Almost all of our fathers worked at the university) that we’d met some guys who were taking one of his classes.
I think there was a group of young men who flunked biology simply because I had that conversation with their teacher.
This is not to say that college guys never went out with high school girls, but in all my time in high school I only remember it happening once. And that’s when I went to prom with Devon Felsted. (See, my website, which really, really I’m going to update any day now) But, his family had been friends with mine since before my birth so it wasn’t unusual for us to do things together. I didn’t have a date so it was, as I recall, arranged through our parents at my suggestion. And let me tell you, I was quite the celebrity at school for going out with a college guy. It was that unusual.
Next story along the same vein: My husband and I first met at a dance in Virginia when I was eighteen. (He was 21 at the time) It was for college aged students and as I’d graduated from high school a couple of weeks before, I clearly qualified. Yeah, well, when my husband found out how old I was he totally blew me off. I mean really, the conversation was like this:
Him: Chat chat chat
Me: Chat chat chat
Him: What year are you?
Me: I’m a freshman.
Him: You mean you’ve finished your freshman year and you’re going to be a sophomore?
Me: No, I’m going to be a freshman.
Him: COMPLETE SILENCE FOR THE REST OF THE DANCE.
Really, he didn’t speak to me again for another year. (At nineteen I was apparently old enough to date.)
Okay, so that is my experience. My editor on the other hand had his first real girlfriend when he was in college (19) and she was 16. According to him, his female assistant, and his female boss, there is no way anyone would think it was odd for a 19 and a 17 year old to go out.
I admit I’m perplexed that we’ve had such completely different life experiences on this one. What is your view?