The August issue of Texas Monthly landed in my mailbox yesterday. Great cover with a black-and-white photo of the King Ranch set off by a gold border. Thumbing through it, I came across a profile of Dallas’ own Sandra Brown, the prolific, highly paid romance writer. Executive editor Skip Hollandsworth wrote the story. Something about it struck me as curious. Here’s a taste:
As I walked into her office, she rose elegantly from behind her desk. In heels, she was nearly six feet tall, her body slender but curvy. Her reddish hair with blond highlights was perfectly tousled, and her lean face contained both well-defined cheekbones and soft, full lips. She was wearing a silky beige top that was cut just low enough for me to catch a tantalizing glimpse of a bra strap, and her spectacularly long legs were covered in form-fitting linen slacks that accentuated her pert posterior.
“Hello,” I said softly, my breath making a hissing sound as I inhaled through my teeth. For a moment, she stared back at me, her brown eyes unblinking, and I could not help but wonder if she too felt something stirring deep inside. Was she, perhaps, already fantasizing about me pushing my way hungrily toward her and pinning her to the desk with my bulging biceps?
Okay, those are the first two paragraphs. A fun little device. Skip writes like a romance writer in profiling a romance writer. But as I read more, my Spidey sense tingled. Something about the piece felt familiar. Why? And then — aha! — it hit me. Twenty year ago, back in September 1987, Skip was an associate editor at D Magazine. Think Paul Kix, only shorter and with more girlfriends. And back in that September issue, Skip wrote a story about romance writers and specifically romance writer Nora Roberts. Here’s the lead from that story:
The famous romance novelist slid into her seat with a rustle of silk and perfume. [Ed: can perfume rustle?] The look she gave me was like a caress. Already, I began to pant as if I’d just run up a flight of stairs. “Do you mind if I smoke?” asked Nora Roberts, the famous novelist.
“Of course not,” I said, in a voice as thick as my glasses.
We were in a quiet corner of the elegant Pyramid Restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel. There was the music of violins, the smell of roses, the discreet murmur of the maitre d’, another sound that resembled a pistol shot when the knife I was holding fell to the floor. Underneath the table, I heard another rustle as Nora Roberts crossed her smooth, sculpted legs. Her face, as she had once written of one of her heroines, was “porcelain, stunning, with an icy kind of beauty that sent out signals of restrained sexuality.” Raising my glass of champagne, squeezing the stem tightly in order to enhance whatever muscles were in my arm (sleek muscles, I knew, rippled through the arms of all the men in her books), I toasted the glorious evening to come.
Well, well. Yes. Er.
I’m such a tool for pointing this out. God, I loathe myself with every fiber of my being, until the sweat beads on my brow and my pants rustle with rage. Yet still my manly fingers tickle the willing keyboard, mocking Skip Hollandsworth. Make it stop!
I asked Skip for a comment. He wrote:
“I don’t even remember what I wrote in that piece from 20 years ago. Thanks for reminding me that the Alzheimer’s is coming. Really appreciate it.”
As I told him, as least he still has his hair.