One of the original categories I proposed for this contest was "Most Sexy." This was, of course, a shameless attempt to get young ladies to send me pictures of themselves all scantily clad.
As with all of my nefarious schemes, this one met with varying degrees of success.
Oh. I remember when I had abs. *Sigh.* A decade of sitting in front of a computer writing a novel has not been good for my physique. I hope y'all appreciate what I gave up for this novel....
Similarly, as the pictures started to roll in, I realized that that "sexy" was too narrow a term for this category. I needed to broaden the field a bit, but I can't think of a single way to describe them. "Most Lovely" isn't quite right either. Perhaps what we need is not a single broad term, but a group of more specific ones....
The ancient Greeks were wise enough to have three words for love: Filius, Eros, and Agape. Filius was family love, what you feel for your mom. Eros was sweaty love of the sort that you feel for best friend's hot mom. Agape is profound and elevated. A sort of soul love, like what you feel for your PlayStation, or Natalie Portman, or Joss Whedon.
Let's do it that way, let us divide and conquer.
Some people made blatant attempts to appeal to my prurient interests. But these heavy-handed photoshoppings were the exception to the rule.
Some photos, in fact, were very high-class. Elegant, even.
Here we have the flirtation that comes at the beginning of the relationship....
.... and the romance that comes later. You sure know how to treat a book, Captain Joe.
Awwww.... the sweetest picture.
Here, apparently my book has just competed in some manner of sexual Olympics. I'm pretty sure that low score up on the board is from the East German judge....
Only rarely in my life have I been looked at with this degree of adoration. This is an agape look.
And there was a fair share of straight-up sexy too. Good old-fashioned Eros never goes out of style.
We've got librarian sexy.
Hip-wader sexy. (Don't judge me.)
And some bad-boy sexy. Can you feel the sheer damn manliness rolling off this? Not a lot of guys seemed interested in sending in pictures of this sort, so I think it's worth the runner-up position.
Our winner. So lovely. (I assume this was before the duck showed up...)
(Click to Embiggen)
And the picture that stunned me. The extra-winner. Winner plus. The ladies who sent this in were careful to point out that they were reading Chapter 69: Wind or Women's Fancy.
Ladies, for going to such lengths, each of you may have whatever prizes you like. Plus, I'd like to send along something special. Would you have any interest in a couple copies of the ARC I've been hording? It only seems fair that you would each get one, as this was clearly a team effort.
This picture. I... I just don't know what to say. Part of me feels like I should try to be suave here. I feel like I should pretend...
Here's the deal. I think when we're young, we all dream of being famous. We see actors or rock stars on the news, and we want some of that for ourselves. It's a dream of power. It's a childish fantasy.
I'm a grown-up. Partly. And that grown-up part of me says, "You should be mature about this. Assuming an attitude of careful appreciation to this picture. Be calm and complimentary, but don't overdo it. Remember, you don't want to seem like some immature git. Or worse, an old pervert."
I'm also a feminist. Hell, I spent years as the ADVISOR to the local feminist group. That part of me is grumbling about women's bodies as objects, and... y'know... patriarchy and stuff.
These are just a few of the ways my superego is trying to assert itself. Trying to make me feel guilty. Trying to crush my joy thin and lifeless as a dry, brown leaf.
But no. I'm going to shrug off all that responsible-minded bullshit for a moment and tell you the truth. This is cool. This is the coolest thing ever. I look at this picture and I feel like a goofy teenager again. When I first saw it, I laughed with delight and joy. I told everyone about it.
I wish I could go back in time and talk to my poor, lonely, confused teenage self and say, "Pat, things are not going to go smoothly for you over the next couple years. You will make terrible mistakes. You will spend a decade getting your college degree and writing a unmarketable behemoth of a fantasy novel. Most people, even the ones that love and support you, will think that this is a pretty stupid thing to do, and they will be right in thinking that."
Then I would lean forward and say, "But if you keep writing, you will finish that book. And if you keep revising it, a publisher will buy it. They will pay you money for the story that came out of your head. And once that book is in print, there are people who will love your book. They will love it beyond all reason and expectation. They will love your book to such a degree that beautiful young women will strip naked and adorn their bodies with the image of your book, and then they will send you a picture of it!"
In my mind's eye, I can see the smile on the face of that teenage Pat. It is the smile I am wearing now. It goes deep down into my chest, and it feels good. It feels like being a stupid kid again.
Tomorrow it will probably fade. I'll probably feel a little embarrassed about the fuss I made over this picture. But for now, I am happy in a very non-mature, non-responsible way.
For now, I know that I am very lucky. Thank you all.
posted by Pat at 5:30 AM