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  • Kristan Higgins

Faking it

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE (out next week, order it now, go on, I have a minute) features one of my all-time favorite tropes: the fake relationship. You know the sort…two people agree to pretend to date for some reason, and actual love blossoms. I do love a good romance trope, and I also love putting a twist on it, but I’m not going to be a plot-spoiler and tell you what that is.


What I will tell you are the times I was a fake girlfriend or had a fake boyfriend. What’s this, Higgins? you ask.  I know, I know. I’m usually honest to a fault, sometimes to my detriment. But in a few cases, back in my youth, I did a fake relationship.


In the first case, for reasons that remain unclear, my friend Dan and I decided to pretend to be engaged during our last week of college. We went to the mall, he bought me a fake diamond ring for $8, and we told people we were getting married. Why? Um…I don’t know. In hindsight, it seems a little mean. I could only maintain the prank for about forty-five seconds. When someone would say, “Really? Congratulations! I had no idea you two were dating,” I would crack and say, “No, not really, we’re just being idiots, I’m sorry.” One friend said, “Oh, thank God, because that ring is so tacky.” I don’t think many people were fooled. Dan and I were pals, but not once had we ever so much as held hands. His mom and sister come to my book signings when I’m in Ohio, though, which is very sweet.

The second time I faked a relationship was on an airplane. I, a twenty-something, was sitting with a fellow twenty-something, both of us going to California. I was going to see a friend; he was going to a Star Trek convention, which he described in agonizing and loving detail. This was the Star Trek of William Shatner, not Chris Pine. I think that’s an important distinction for the point of this story. As he waxed poetic about Vulcan culture and episode titles and stared at my chest, I sensed he liked me. Sure enough, he eventually said, “Want to get a drink when land? Or any time this week?”


“Oh, sorry, I’m engaged,” I blurted. “Yeah. I’m actually flying out to get married. He’s a…he’s a cellist. John.” I had always liked the name John. But a cellist? A cellist? If he had asked me to name two cello pieces, I would’ve failed. I had a CD of Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach’s cello suites. Otherwise, I was (and am) a cello ignoramus.


“Where does he play?” the Trekkie asked me, immediately suspicious.


“The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,” said I. “Second chair.” I was rather proud of myself for coming up with second chair. It sounded very knowledgeable.


“Where are you getting married?” he asked.

“Golden Gate Park.” It was the only place I could think of other than the Golden Gate Bridge, which probably doesn’t host many weddings.


“Where does he live?” asked the Trekkie.


“Nob Hill,” I said, though I had never been to San Francisco before. There is an upside to having a cocktail party brain—the type where you know a little bit about a lot of things.


The Trekkie grumbled. He knew I was lying, but did he really? I mean, could he prove it? There was no internet back then, readers. I was safe. “Well. I’m gonna read my book,” I said, and we spent the next three hours in silence as I filled in details of John, my cellist. Slightly balding, glasses, shy, funny, adoring, dog named Rufus. By the end of the flight, I was halfway in love.


In Look On the Bright Side, Lark has far better reasons for fake-dating Lorenzo Santini, M.D. She’ll get to dress up and go to a few fancy parties, meet his lovely family, make friends with his sisters. And of course, she’ll fall in love somewhere along the way. It happens. Love finds a way.

As always, I'll be donating my cut from preorders and first week sales to St. Jude Children's Hospital, where no family is ever turned away because of inability to pay. Thank you so much for helping me support this great institution. You can buy the book here.


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