Jeanne blogged about Love in the Time of Coronavirus. Specifically, she said this: Forced proximity is a romance trope wherein the couple in question is forced by circumstance (blizzard, long-haul truck run, bodyguard, work assignment, etc.) to spend time together. I agree that the stuck together trope will be very popular in the near future, there’s got to be others. I’ve blogged about romance during a disaster before. Jeanne is right again that blizzards are very common ways to get two people stuck together. Linda Howard has a good one in Ice.
But let’s think up some others. How about:
- Enemies to lovers. A restauranteur closes up business because of stay-at-home orders but volunteers to prepare food for shut-ins. So he contacts a local nonprofit for help in distributing the food. And it’s an old enemy from some situation or another.
- Childhood friends. Come back home to take care of parents and reconnect. Say one neighbor is a big farmer/gardener and has lots of fruits/veggies canned/frozen/stored and the other is a rancher with various meats and eggs and they need to barter with each other.
- Slow burn. One of the couple has loved the other for a long time, but they’ve just been friends. With a pandemic making the one realize that life is short, he/she pushes for more.
What ideas do you have for a pandemic romance?
I kind of think the big trope may be post-pandemic–the changes that stay with us. Example:
My parents both grew up during the Great Depression and they displayed life-long frugality, especially around food. We did not let food go to waste at our house. (I suspect that fact that our household included seven kids may have had something to do with that, too.)
They passed this trait on to me. Every Sunday before Old Dog takes out the trash, I go through the fridge and toss things that have grown to old to eat safely. I hate doing this. Every item that goes into the garbage/compost/recycling–liquefied lettuce, rancid milk, moldy cheese–feels like a personal failure.
Now, for what may be the first time in many people’s lives, it’s not easy to get groceries. Even if your personal safety measures don’t include having them delivered, as mine does, the stores are no longer reliably stocked with everything we love. Some of this is due to hoarding, but I suspect some of it may be due to a mass behavior change to which the supply chain has not yet adapted–people cooking and eating at home rather than at restaurants or getting take-out. And once the supply chain does adjust to this change, it’s going to equally difficult to change back because some (many?) of the restaurant customers will no longer exist.
The world depicted in contemporary romances will need to change to reflect this altered reality.
Another example: Jilly mentioned recently may be open borders. We’ve grown accustomed to easily traveling almost anywhere in the world. The coronavirus has demonstrated that there’s a risk in keeping our borders so porous. Here in the U.S., we’ve already seen push-back to even interstate travel as states like Florida and Maine resist incursions from virus hot-spots like NYC.
Time to shut up before my comment is longer than your post!
It will be interesting to see how life changes and how that translates to art.
For a romance trope, I like the idea of a stay-at-homer meets a grocer who delivers. Imagine what s/he could bring! Chocolate, champagne, caviar, toilet paper! True love, right there.
Just like there are always movies after a big event like this that take a contemporary plot one way or the other, I think this epidemic will also provide plots for books. But as for lasting behaviors, I’m not so sure. Like Jeanne’s folks, my parents were children during the Depression, too—my mother, the youngest of ten. We also did not waste food, or anything else, in our family. But the Depression and shortages of WWII lasted more than 15 years. I don’t think the epidemic will last that long, or the behavioral changes we’re experiencing now, either. Remember when we said 9/11 would change how we’d behave with our neighbors? Yeah, not so much.
But if we get a few new story tropes out of it, I’m all for that!
Ooo, I like the grocer/delivery love story.
And I’m not so sure about no change in behavior with our neighbors. I think there is significantly more prejudice now than pre-9/11.