Fantasy Has Several Meanings, Really...

I teach during the school year and work at a hardware store during the summer.  The store atmosphere is pretty low key, which is really nice compared to the frantic pace of the elementary school.  Plus, I love tools and get an employee discount.  I agreed to work weekends occasionally through this school year in case they needed me.

I had found out over the last summer that two other employees liked to write.  What a coinkydink!  What are the odds that 3 of the 8 employees were writers?  I thought it was pretty cool, so I asked them what they wrote.  One said, "Sci-fi," and the other, an older retired, man said, "Fantasy."  How cool was that!  All three of us write speculative fiction!  He also told me that he wrote with people he knows via the Internet.  Wow!  I write and swap stories for critique over the Internet, too! I thought.

They asked me to work a weekend earlier this month, and the store was absolutely dead.  It was so quiet I had no choice but to hear the 70's radio station that played the same songs on a 3 hour loop.  After humming, "I Will Survive," for about the fortieth time that day, I started writing stories on a notepad.  Mr. Older Retired Guy noticed, laughed, and we began talking about writing.

He asked me, "What kind of stuff do you write again?"


"Oh.  That's right."  He pointed at the notepad in my hand.  "What do you do with your stories?"

"I'm working on getting them published," I replied.  "I don't know if it will ever happen, but I made some contacts at a conference that have been helping me."

"OK," he said with a funny look on his elderly face.  "Is that like romance and stuff?"

"Sometimes."  Curious about his weird reaction, I asked, "What do you do with your stories?  I know you swap them around with other folks."

"Oh, well, we write them together, each from a different character's perspective.  First we figure out who's going to be dominant and who's submissive..."


"You know, sex stuff," he finished very nonchalantly.  He then started talking about his wife wanting to find a new church, and I chatted with gusto, thankful to get to a less awkward subject.  He wound up leaving early because the store was so slow.

An hour after he left, another employee called me in the back to tell me I had a phone call.  "I bet it's Aaron," I said, referring to my husband.

"Nope.  It's Frank's wife."

"What?"  I immediately began to sweat bullets.  I'd never met her before in my entire life, and now all of a sudden she wants to talk to me?  Right after he tells me all of the freaky things he does on his computer while his grandkids aren't there?

"Hello," I said, and nearly blurted, "Yes!  I know what your husband does online!  No!  It's not with me.  My stories don't involve leather, well, except for a saddle...for a horse....Hey, at least you don't need to worry about STD's!"

Thankfully, before I could verbally vomit, she said, "My husband was telling me about your opinion on churches, but couldn't remember the names...

Several days later, I finally realized that the reason he was so forthcoming about his online activities was because he thought I wrote S&M, too.  Next time I say that I write fantasy, I'm going to qualify it as something that doesn't involve whips and come-f(%#-me pumps.


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