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Meet Hooks : What Romantic Can Resist Cute Stories That Unfold as Boy Meets Girl?

THE “CUTE MEET” has been a staple of the movies for decades. Even today, when plots are more frenzied and sophisticated, there is rarely a romantic comedy that doesn’t have one.

This venerable device is simple. Jimmy Stewart climbs aboard a crowded bus in New York on a rainy day. He is crushed against a stranger, Claudette Colbert. He opens his raincoat and the zipper catches in Claudette’s sweater. Embarrassment. Laughter. They have to get off the bus together. Bingo. Love. Marriage.

Cute meets happen in real life, too.

Virginia Donohue writes about what she suspects was a cute meet on the Costa del Sol in Spain. It had all the elements, she says, but she doesn’t know how it turned out. That’s the trouble with cute meets in real life. You may see them happen, but you never know how they turn out.

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Donohue recalls the story like this:

She was sitting on the seaside deck of a hotel facing the Mediterranean at about sunset. A young man walking in from the beach waved up to someone. Donohue assumed it was an acquaintance. Then the young man shouted, “Are you stuck?”

“Looking around and up,” she recalls, “I saw a young woman on a balcony. She was wearing a robe. She was unable to open the door behind her and was trapped on the balcony.”

The young woman asked the young man to go into the bar and call a “Mrs. Ray” or something like that. A few minutes later, the young man came out and shouted that there was no such person in the hotel. He asked the young woman for her room number so he could get help to her.

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“As I left the patio,” Donohue recalls, “I saw him and a hotel staffer waiting for the elevator. I have no idea how this evolved, of course, but they were both young Americans, strangers to each other, meeting on the romantic Costa del Sol--he the hero saving a damsel in distress.”

Donohue, of course, has the right to make up her own ending. Since it was not a movie, she will never know. But if, like me, she’s a romantic, she will be spinning her own scenario.

I can imagine two possible endings. The young man goes up to the young woman’s room with a bellman. The bellman opens the door. The two of them go in. The bellman opens the door to the balcony. The woman walks in, tightening her robe about her. “It’s about time,” she says uncivilly.

The young man explains that he acted as quickly as he could. Unappeased, the young woman says, “Thank you. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to be alone. I have to dress. I have a date with my fiance.”

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That’s one way. But we don’t want it to end that way, do we?

The way I see it, the man enters the room with the bellman and frees the woman from the balcony. “This is embarrassing,” she says. “I haven’t got on anything under this robe.”

The bellman beats a discreet retreat. The man, who is still in his beach clothes, says, “While you’re getting into something decent, I’ll go change.”

The woman laughs provocatively and says, “Should I dress for dinner?”

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“Cocktails first,” the man says, “and then maybe a stroll on the beach.”

“Where are you from?” she asks.

“Akron, Ohio.”

Dismayed, “Not really!”

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“It’s not so bad in the spring.”

“Well,” she says, “you have been awfully nice.”

She finds something ravishing to wear, and they meet for cocktails. It turns out that he is chief executive officer of a rubber corporation with headquarters in Akron, but he has a private jet, homes in Malibu and Monaco and an apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

It turns out that she is a jewel thief. That’s what she was doing out on the balcony, trying to gain access to another room through its balcony. She wisely decides not to tell the young man this. He is obviously taken with her. She sees this as a chance to live the good life without working for it.

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They get married and have five children. They live in Akron, but they travel a lot.

Isn’t that nice?


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