Did you know the moment your life was about to change? In romantic fiction the two main characters often start off oblivious to impending love. Sometimes they’re even opposed to the idea. But the reader has an inkling, and that’s what makes their meeting cute.
A meet cute is the scene where the hero and heroine meet. The idea behind the term is that the future love interests can’t simply be introduced by mutual friends and exchange numbers like average people. They can’t meet normally, they must meet cute.
Writers often joke about spending all our time with imaginary friends, and, well…it’s quite true. But today I wanted to do something a little different and revisit my real life best friend. I’d like to share with you my meet cute.
800 degrees below freezing and they hadn’t flipped on the dormitory heater. Beth layered two tank tops, a long-sleeved shirt, and hoodie. September in Sweden didn’t mess around. Stomach grumbling from a missed breakfast, she shoved her curls into a mess atop her head. Jet lag might prevent her from impressing the Europeans with a cute hairdo but it wouldn’t cheat her out of another meal…if she could remember where the cafeteria was located. Thirty hours of travel and seven crossed time zones fuzzed the brain.
Humid sea air devoured her as she exited the dorm. Cold and wet. Delightful. Okay, the yellow building at the top of the hill. She scanned the distance. All the buildings looked yellow. And blurry. Why was she so dizzy? This had to be the worst jet lag she’d ever experienced.
Mud from the morning’s rain squelched under her boots all the way uphill. Young people streamed into what appeared to be the cafeteria. School started in two days, but the international campus already swarmed with students attending other programs. She hadn’t met any of them yet. Heart flittering, she bit her lip. Americans weren’t always admired across the ocean.
Foreign languages swirled together, growing louder with each step she took. Inside, plates, glasses, and voices clanked together. Shoulder to shoulder people funneled toward a serving counter. She grabbed a plate from the dispenser and shuffled through the line, pinned between two groups of Koreans. A quick scan of the room sped the thumping in her chest. Every table was full. At the end of the service counter she clutched the plate of meatballs and mashed potatoes. Breath seeped back into her lungs at the sight of one empty seat straight ahead.
She pulled out the chair and its metal legs scraped against the floor, drawing attention.
“Hi, I’m Beth.” The university operated in English so communication shouldn’t be a problem. Right?
One by one, blonde students smiled and introduced themselves, then the conversation transitioned back to Swedish. She’d never remember all their names. Except Greta and Ingrid. Girls actually had those names. Now the place really felt Scandinavian.
“Where are you from?”
Her gaze darted to the guy across the table. “America.”
“Swedes don’t like Americans you know.”
Fork hovering above her plate, she stared at him. Right off the bat, huh? Her shoulders wilted with a sigh. “I’ve heard.”
“Why are you at Restenäs?” he asked.
Well then. No dancing around the point with northerners. “Not for the weather.” Or the company, apparently.
He chuckled. “Which school are you taking?”
“The School of Biblical Studies.”
“SBS? Then you’ll be freezing for a while.”
She grimaced. “Are you staying in the big dorm down the hill?”
That seemed like yes. “What’s up with the heater? Is it broken?”
He shrugged as if he hadn’t noticed anything amiss.
She could’ve gone to Panama or Brazil. Or Hawaii. But something about Sweden had drawn her since childhood. Maybe in the next nine months she’d figure out why. The cheese and chocolate better live up to its reputation.
She stuffed a meatball in her mouth. Swedes were supposed to be the most gorgeous people on earth. Tolkien’s fair and beautiful elves. The guy across from her ducked his eyes for a bite. She looked him over. He wasn’t that cute.
When he looked back up he started saying something about English and school. With the racket bouncing off clapboard walls she couldn’t understand his accent.
He spoke louder. “Bra is good.”
“Bra is good. Isn’t that funny?” he asked.
What in the world? Lifting fingers to her temples she massaged against the dizziness swirling in her head. “That’s…interesting.”
“So.” He tucked his knife between the tongs of the fork. “Nice meeting you.” Gathering his plate and glass he pushed away from the table and…oh wow. He did not seem so tall sitting down. His shoulders suddenly looked broader, his arms thicker.
“Where do I put my dirty dishes?” She stood next to him, feeling small.
He glanced down at her, irritation in his gaze. “This way.”
She trudged behind him, empty plate in hand. This might be a long nine months.
Little did I know, in that noisy cafeteria over ten years ago, I’d marry that tall Swede. This St. Patrick’s Day marks our sixth wedding anniversary. That’s a meet cute worth celebrating! Lycklin årsdag, min kärlek. Jag älskar dig.
What about you? Have you experienced a real life meet cute? Have you read a book lately with a giggle worthy introduction between love interests? I’d love to know!
But wait…what was that about bras? Check out my post next month—Man Brain: Writing from the Dude’s Point of View.
Beth Olsson, in a pen cap, is all about Jesus, her Viking, and their two adorable babies. If you know what it means when she says her childhood heroes were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, and Jo March, then you get it! All kidding aside, they’re still her heroes. Beth started creating stories as early as she can remember, staying awake well after bedtime dreaming up daring characters and precarious situations. As a writer of contemporary romance, with a dash of suspense, she believes the best stories weave the raw beauty of real life with unbelievable adventures.
A proud resident of Kansas City, Missouri, Beth enjoys world travel, genealogy, and sitting around the dinner table for hours, talking about both. The best souvenir she ever brought home was a husband from Sweden. Like any good writer, she has a love affair with chocolate and coffee, but it’s a lifeblood connection with Jesus Christ that keeps the words flowing and heart beating. At the tender age of fourteen, on a tile floor in Costa Rica, she surrendered all to the one she calls Lord. Through life’s twists and turns she’s thankful for this steadfast foundation every day!