from Measuring Time: “Rod Stewart and My Ex Ruined my Date”

Other than the title work, “Measuring Time,” this is the oldest story in the book, originally drafted when my wife and I lived in Portland, Oregon, in the mid-2000s. During this period, I discovered Ann Beattie, Lorrie Moore, and Louise Erdrich, great writers all, and especially great writers of the humorous. The stories I was drafting incorporated more humor than in my prior stories.

Taking a cue from these writers, I was incorporating more irony. I found myself more interested in delving into the lives of quirky individuals. The first-person narrator of this story is one of the most unlikable characters I’ve written, a man in his early thirties who has no discernible qualities.

As far as the inspiration for the story, I started with the idea of a kid selling those large coupon books door to door. The narrator buys one while leaving to go on a second date with a woman named Samantha, deciding to give the coupon book to her. In other words, he’s a really classy guy. From the outset, I wrote in first person, stumbling into the narrator’s voice, a self-deprecating one. He’s also not fully self-aware.

In the course of working on this story over many years, I researched information on Rod Stewart, since he is an important person (even though he doesn’t “appear”–spoiler alert). I learned more than I wanted to about him and his music, but those details developed tension in the story and deepened Samantha’s character.

Completing the final edits on this story was another rewarding experience–a delight to revisit the characters and finding myself laughing at them. My hope is that readers will laugh as well.

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