February: an opportunity to further abuse your credit cards with heart-shaped things, Christmas chocolate in red-foiled disguise and teddy bears every self-respecting adult needs more of.

This week I entered a Valentine’s Day inspired writing contest, entitled, “50 Ways to Love your Lover”, hosted by the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland. They were asking for a 1000 word “romantic scene” from an original, unpublished piece of work. It could be “steamy” or “sweet”. I opted for the sweet.

Not only was I faced with writing fiction – something completely foreign to me – I was challenged with writing romance… something completely foreign to me.

[Sorry I’m so awkward, sweetheart].

The editing process was painful. At one point, I wrote, “he kissed her softly, slowly, deeply”. I wish I was kidding. Hoping I was just being too hard on myself, I read the line aloud to my husband who’s immediate and exact response was: “What the fuck? Is that a fucking 98 Degrees song? Did Nick Lachey write that?”

He was right. Jesus. What is it about writing fictional romance that dredges up the most barf-worthy cliches that should not be written for anything that doesn’t have Fabio on the cover? If only language in romantic fiction writing could be as straight-forward and unpretentious as our beloved Newfoundland English…

[You see where this is going.]

Oh, but it can! HOAR friends, I give you: Missuzz, Whadd’ya at? a love story.

B’ys was on da dirty big draws dat night. Darts in Darr’l’s shed got neider bit squirrelly, ya knows now, wha? Gussy’s missus, Linette, was gettin’ right  sauced on Gussy’s mudder’s slush. I was sittin on Darr’l’s fadder’s bike, havin’ a dart, just about to open a tin a Pipsay when Linette says to me, “Duff, b’y, you single danight or wha? Save us a draw I sets you up wit me cousin. She’ll be here da once”.

“Who’s dat now? Cath? Idn’t she knocked up wit Darce’s youngster?”, I asked, know’n good’n well dat wudn’t a deal breaker. Knocked-up missuses likes a bitta skin too, wha? Knows now.

“No Jesus, b’y, Duff”, Linette yelled. I knew she had a solid buzz on because ‘er eyes was right blue: one blew east, one blew west. “Cath moved to Town, b’y. Tinks she’s better’n everyone now I s’pose ’cause Darce just bought a new F150 off Classifieds, now dere livin’ out by da Village Mall, tinks she’s da queen”. Rotted, she skeet me smoke and took a big ol’ drag.

I tink we bot’ forgot what we was talkin’ about to begin wit ’cause Pelley was goin’ around wit shots o’ Fireball and before you knows it, b’ys is blastin’ AC/DC. Da shed was on. Da. Go.

I had to dart to da gas station for a pack a Export A Gold and a bag a Hickory Sticks. As I walked back to da party, I saw Linette outside the shed, shot-gunnin a Blue Star wit some red-headed missus I never seen before. Missus was gear, too.

Arse on dat, I thought.

But I got half a sense so instead I just said, “whadd’ya at, missus? Bum a light, er wha?”.

Red smiled. She had a chipped tooth – if she was anything like ‘er cousin, dat was from eider dirt bikin’ or tryin’ to gnaw da top off a Mike’s Hard. She hucked a purple Bic at me. Tanks be da Jesus I caught ‘n.

“Duffy, this is my cousin, Jess. Jess, Duff. Duff, Jess”, Linette grinned, right proud she was able to slur out da right names. She’s a state, b’y.

Jess laughed. I lit me smoke.

“Sip?”, she asked, handing me her red cup of some shit dat smelled like Lamb’s and 7-up and Purity syrup. Come to t’ink of it, das exactly what it was, dare say.

Not to be an arsehole, I took a swally. Fuckin’ gross, b’y. Worth it though, missus was sizin’ me up da whole time.

“Go fer a scuff, er wha, missus? Me buddy’s playin at da Legion danight”. I got right ballsy all of a sudden. Musta been da Lambs.

Linette winked at Jess and staggered back to da shed, stoppin’ long side of ‘er to coopy down and take a piss. Linette, b’y. State, b’y.

We laughed.

Jess looked like she was tinkin’ hard, starin’ at me, tappin’ her cracked tooth on ‘er cup.

“S’pose b’y”, she finally said. “Got nudding better to do”.

Dat was t’irty-seven years ago, youngsters. Yer grandmudder’s still a piece a gear; nar toot’ lef and ‘er red’s all gone white; but she cooks up a deadly ol’ skoff n’ still dies fer a swally o Lambs.

BOOM! Romantic fiction. It flows so much easier in Newfoundland.

Truly, madly, deeply your,