#ShortStoryMonth Day Three — “The Green Sweater,” by Mark G. Harris


Meet-Cutes and Meet-Disasters

I have a weakness for meet-cutes. I also have a weakness for meet-disasters. There’s a Venn Diagram you could draw there, where the two circles overlap, and in the middle of that circle you could find “The Green Sweater” by Mark G. Harris. And also me, smiling like a happy git, making “gimme” hands motions for more of those sweet-spot “this is the best worst thing ever!” short story moments.

Ahem. Day Three of my #ShortStoryMonth prompts is romance. (Also, if you want to join in with this celebration of all things short, click here to visit the pinned tweet with all the images and prompts.) Between romance and meet-cute/meet-disasters, “The Green Sweater” popped immediately to my mind. You can find it in Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, edited by R.D. Cochrane and Timothy J. Lambert, and full disclosure: I, too, have a short story in that collection but I swear this isn’t about me, it’s about that green sweater.

The hero of “The Green Sweater” is at a party, and he’s met a nice guy, and there seems to be chemistry and flirtatiousness and everything that makes the stars twinkle seems to be set on, uh, full-twinkle. He takes a moment to head to the bathroom, and while washing his hands, he finds a note written by an anonymous party guest basically saying “OMG, there’s this guy with a green sweater and he just won’t leave me alone, please help!” Then he looks down and spots the green sweater he’s wearing. Uh oh.

It’s romance, so of course things work out as they should (romantically), but that moment was so freaking pure, man. That moment of “Oh no, have I misread the guy, the conversation, the signals, my own brain, and the very inherent twinkle of the stars? I have, haven’t I?” Mark G. Harris, genius of the romantic cringe.

Other romantic short stories I’ve loved? Super-partial to Jeffrey Ricker’s “At the End of the Leash” (where a dog-walker falls for a client, but it’s awkward because he got fired; you can read it right here if you sign up for his newsletter), Hank Edwards’s “Thaw” (a post-apocalyptic story, no less, which is a category of fiction where I love to find hope and romance, from Bears of Winter), and “World’s Greatest Dads,” by David Puterbaugh (from Best Gay Romance 2010, where the fellas in question are stymied over choosing a name once it turns out their expectations of baby Julia have turned into needing a name for a little boy instead).

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