This year at RT one of the Aspiring Writers was drafted into the Mr. Romance competition. Meet Andrew Shaffer. He never expected his week in Columbus would include strutting on stage in front of hundreds of screaming women, but he was such a good sport. I invited him to share a bit of his experience with us here. Take it away, Andrew!
One of the unexpected highlights of my Mr. Romance 2010 competition experience was getting the opportunity to play dress-up.
I normally dress conservatively – my daily outfit includes a faded t-shirt, a pair of ill-fitting blue jeans, and sneakers. If I leave the confines of my home office, I might throw on a Yankees ballcap. I had packed a suit for the RT Book Lovers’ Convention in case I needed to impress an editor during a pitch session, but had otherwise brought all of my clothing in a small, carry-on suitcase. When I arrived in Columbus for Bobbi Smith’s pre-convention writer’s workshop, I had no idea that I would also need a dozen other outfits for the four-day convention later that week.
Although I was attending as an aspiring romance novelist, I was drafted into the Mr. Romance male modeling competition [full story here: OliveReader.com]. As part of our contestant duties, we were required to attend the nightly dinners and dances, each with its own theme; our week was to end with the two-hour onstage Mr. Romance “mangeant,” which would include a minimum of four costume changes.
I called my wife, who was still back in Iowa. She was scheduled to come to Columbus for the last two days of the convention. “I need to ask a favor,” I said. “I’m going to need a couple of dress shirts, some jeans that kind of fit me, a western shirt, a cowboy belt buckle, a cowboy hat, a pair of chaps, and a vampire cape.”
“You need all of that? What is going on?”
“I’m going to be in a male modeling competition. Plus, there are these balls every night that I’ll need to attend,” I said. “And on second thought, we can skip the chaps.” I wasn’t exactly aware of what the going rate for a pair of chaps was, but guessed they might be expensive. While I wanted to be the best cowboy that I could be during the mangeant, I had to balance my vision of authenticity with the vision of my credit card statement.
“I’ve got to let you go,” I told my wife. “The costume shop down the street closes in half an hour, and I still don’t have any wings for the Faery Ball tonight.”
For next year’s RT in Los Angeles, I’m going to check so many bags of luggage filled with costume changes that Lady Gaga’s going to think I’m overdoing it. While I’m not sure yet if I’ll be competing in Mr. Romance 2011, it’s better to be safe than sorry -- the next-to-last pair of out-of-season faery wings that you can buy at a discount costume shop look as cheap as they sound. That’s not a mistake I’m going to make twice.
Thanks, Andrew. If you'd like to know more about Andrew Shaffer's upcoming non-fiction title Great Philosophers who Failed at Love from Harper Perennial, visit his website.
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Twitter: Andrew on Twitter
If you have any questions for Andrew, I think I can convince him to pop by and leave an answer.