You had to be there….

Charlie_billy_davy

Sorry for missing last week. During my wandering travel I lost track of details such as days of the week. I’m also still a bit jetlagged, or just tired, so I’ll be posting this late on Tuesday instead of on Wednesday. Since returning home I’ve been catching up on e-mail and paperwork and trying to regain control of the garden. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness sounds lovely, but harvest time is pears, apples, beans, tomatoes etc all demanding attention and the grape vine loaded down with future work.

But lets hope for future wine. Just a bit more warm weather, please.

But I was going to wlite about believability. Real events don’t always make believable fiction. This is one of the strange factors we writers have to work with. Often writers, especially beginners, will protest that some incident is true — that something like it really happened, to them, to their sister. That doesn’t make it believable and so it doesn’t work in the novel.

My sister recently recollected an incident from before my birth. During WWII, a charming your woman was popular with the forces people who spent time in our town. She was pleasant to all of them and would go to dances and other activities with them. After the war one of these young men turned up and declared they were to be married, and she married him. Apparently she didn’t want to. She was seriously interested in another man and not particularly fond of this one, but by simple power of personality he got her to marry him. Alas, it didn’t turn out well.

If I used that situation in a novel I doubt I could make it believable because our logic protests. Why couldn’t she say no? Why didn’t anyone else step in to protect her? What about her other young man? Why didn’t he fight for her? I suspect, as the saying goes, you had to be there.

Take another fictional situation — the disguise. A writer has to do more than tell me that a character is wearing a wig and different clothing to make me believe that a disguise works, especially with people who know him or her well. You know — the hero wears a mask and somehow his wife doesn’t recognize him? The writer needs to convince me that the disguised person has also altered walk, mannerisms, and voice to even begin to convince me.

Especially voice. Isn’t it true that when we hear someone’s voice, even just a few words, we can usually recognize them?

I remember seeing a TV movie made from a romance novel and involving disguise. The mousy heroine wore a wig and sexy clothing and the hero didn’t recognize her. In that case it worked, because I saw the transformation, and it included a complete change in manner, movement, and way of speaking. Doing that on the page, however, is extremely difficult.

On the flip side, often we can write incidents in novels that are extremely unlikely to work that way in reality, but which are believable within fiction. How delightfully complicated it all is.

Do you have any suggestions of realities that wouldn’t be believable in fiction? Or unbelievables that worked for you in a novel? I think we all have lots of them. For example, coincidence, which is quite common, is hard to believe in fiction. I’m not talking about paranormal elements such as werewolves and faeries, but human behavior examples that you know just wouldn’t happen in reality, but are enjoyable anyway.

Trarsm
BTW, To Rescue A Rogue is doing very well, including making #12 on the Publishers Weekly mass market paperback list, which is one of those things that makes everyone happy.

Jo 🙂

36 thoughts on “You had to be there….”

  1. I agree, Jo, that believability is crucial to a novel. A fiction writer is already trying to persuade readers that her characters and story are real. Why undermine that with “facts” that make them stop and question?
    You also named one of my own reader/writer pet peeves: the Heroine in Disguise. The ones that hide their ravishing beauty to pass as hideous ogres with the help of only a wig are bad enough, but I really draw the line at the lovely, fine-boned lady-heroine who puts on breeches, ties back her hair, and suddenly all the men (including the hero) think she’s a young man.
    Sure, sure, and there’s a bridge to Brooklyn that I’ve heard’s for sale, too……

    Reply
  2. I agree, Jo, that believability is crucial to a novel. A fiction writer is already trying to persuade readers that her characters and story are real. Why undermine that with “facts” that make them stop and question?
    You also named one of my own reader/writer pet peeves: the Heroine in Disguise. The ones that hide their ravishing beauty to pass as hideous ogres with the help of only a wig are bad enough, but I really draw the line at the lovely, fine-boned lady-heroine who puts on breeches, ties back her hair, and suddenly all the men (including the hero) think she’s a young man.
    Sure, sure, and there’s a bridge to Brooklyn that I’ve heard’s for sale, too……

    Reply
  3. I agree, Jo, that believability is crucial to a novel. A fiction writer is already trying to persuade readers that her characters and story are real. Why undermine that with “facts” that make them stop and question?
    You also named one of my own reader/writer pet peeves: the Heroine in Disguise. The ones that hide their ravishing beauty to pass as hideous ogres with the help of only a wig are bad enough, but I really draw the line at the lovely, fine-boned lady-heroine who puts on breeches, ties back her hair, and suddenly all the men (including the hero) think she’s a young man.
    Sure, sure, and there’s a bridge to Brooklyn that I’ve heard’s for sale, too……

    Reply
  4. I played Rosencrantz in my small college’s production of Hamlet-not enough guys tried out. It required padding in the shoulders, Ace bandage to flatten the bosom,an artificial mustache, and much rehearsal of masculine walking and speech patterns- I have a fairly deep voice, but I talk like a girl. With all of that, it only worked on an artificially lit stage. Some things a clever person might have spotted: My hands and feet were too small for a man of my height, and my neck was too slender.But here we go with that truth stranger than fiction thing: althought the idea of a short hairdo and breeches being enough to pass as a boy seems silly to most of us, there have been actual historical cases of women who passed as men IN THE MILITARY! Where you presumedly ate, slept, and marched side by side with men who never caught on to the deception. A famous American Civil War case is known and a British Army doctor, I think, is one I have heard of. My daughter’s Spanish class read the account of a woman who served as a soldier in Spain in the 1600’s, I think it was. None of these women were detected until they needed medical treatment. Truth really is stranger than fiction…. by the way, I think my Rosencrantz probably came off sort of gay- but all the actors in the show lined up to see what it felt like to kiss someone with a mustache! I never enjoyed a role more;D !As to coincidence in novels: what are the odds that Jane Eyre writes to her uncle who just happens to know Mason, Rochester’s brother-in-law,who lives half the world away, and then she runs away and then collapses from hunger in a randomly chosen location that just happens to be the home of her long lost cousins who were counting on an inheritance from said Uncle..;; so even the best authors sometimes stretch coincidence a little too far, but it is still a great read..G

    Reply
  5. I played Rosencrantz in my small college’s production of Hamlet-not enough guys tried out. It required padding in the shoulders, Ace bandage to flatten the bosom,an artificial mustache, and much rehearsal of masculine walking and speech patterns- I have a fairly deep voice, but I talk like a girl. With all of that, it only worked on an artificially lit stage. Some things a clever person might have spotted: My hands and feet were too small for a man of my height, and my neck was too slender.But here we go with that truth stranger than fiction thing: althought the idea of a short hairdo and breeches being enough to pass as a boy seems silly to most of us, there have been actual historical cases of women who passed as men IN THE MILITARY! Where you presumedly ate, slept, and marched side by side with men who never caught on to the deception. A famous American Civil War case is known and a British Army doctor, I think, is one I have heard of. My daughter’s Spanish class read the account of a woman who served as a soldier in Spain in the 1600’s, I think it was. None of these women were detected until they needed medical treatment. Truth really is stranger than fiction…. by the way, I think my Rosencrantz probably came off sort of gay- but all the actors in the show lined up to see what it felt like to kiss someone with a mustache! I never enjoyed a role more;D !As to coincidence in novels: what are the odds that Jane Eyre writes to her uncle who just happens to know Mason, Rochester’s brother-in-law,who lives half the world away, and then she runs away and then collapses from hunger in a randomly chosen location that just happens to be the home of her long lost cousins who were counting on an inheritance from said Uncle..;; so even the best authors sometimes stretch coincidence a little too far, but it is still a great read..G

    Reply
  6. I played Rosencrantz in my small college’s production of Hamlet-not enough guys tried out. It required padding in the shoulders, Ace bandage to flatten the bosom,an artificial mustache, and much rehearsal of masculine walking and speech patterns- I have a fairly deep voice, but I talk like a girl. With all of that, it only worked on an artificially lit stage. Some things a clever person might have spotted: My hands and feet were too small for a man of my height, and my neck was too slender.But here we go with that truth stranger than fiction thing: althought the idea of a short hairdo and breeches being enough to pass as a boy seems silly to most of us, there have been actual historical cases of women who passed as men IN THE MILITARY! Where you presumedly ate, slept, and marched side by side with men who never caught on to the deception. A famous American Civil War case is known and a British Army doctor, I think, is one I have heard of. My daughter’s Spanish class read the account of a woman who served as a soldier in Spain in the 1600’s, I think it was. None of these women were detected until they needed medical treatment. Truth really is stranger than fiction…. by the way, I think my Rosencrantz probably came off sort of gay- but all the actors in the show lined up to see what it felt like to kiss someone with a mustache! I never enjoyed a role more;D !As to coincidence in novels: what are the odds that Jane Eyre writes to her uncle who just happens to know Mason, Rochester’s brother-in-law,who lives half the world away, and then she runs away and then collapses from hunger in a randomly chosen location that just happens to be the home of her long lost cousins who were counting on an inheritance from said Uncle..;; so even the best authors sometimes stretch coincidence a little too far, but it is still a great read..G

    Reply
  7. One unbelievable that often works for me in fiction is something I call Henry Family Syndrome, because Victor Henry and his family in WINDS OF WAR/WAR OF REMEMBRANCE are such a blatant case of it. It’s where an Every(wo)man protagonist, someone the reader can readily identify with, *just happens* to meet all the VIPs and witness all the important events of the real history the novel is based within.
    It works because it’s interesting, and the character is often meeting the people and seeing the things I’d want to see myself if I only had a time machine. Of course, it falls apart if the author hasn’t done her homework on the real person/event and I have, leaving me to roll my eyes over a presentation of, say, the Duke of Wellington as a cuddly nicey-nice teddy bear of a man. But on the whole it’s an unbelievable plot device that I’m happy to suspend disbelief in for a few hundred pages.

    Reply
  8. One unbelievable that often works for me in fiction is something I call Henry Family Syndrome, because Victor Henry and his family in WINDS OF WAR/WAR OF REMEMBRANCE are such a blatant case of it. It’s where an Every(wo)man protagonist, someone the reader can readily identify with, *just happens* to meet all the VIPs and witness all the important events of the real history the novel is based within.
    It works because it’s interesting, and the character is often meeting the people and seeing the things I’d want to see myself if I only had a time machine. Of course, it falls apart if the author hasn’t done her homework on the real person/event and I have, leaving me to roll my eyes over a presentation of, say, the Duke of Wellington as a cuddly nicey-nice teddy bear of a man. But on the whole it’s an unbelievable plot device that I’m happy to suspend disbelief in for a few hundred pages.

    Reply
  9. One unbelievable that often works for me in fiction is something I call Henry Family Syndrome, because Victor Henry and his family in WINDS OF WAR/WAR OF REMEMBRANCE are such a blatant case of it. It’s where an Every(wo)man protagonist, someone the reader can readily identify with, *just happens* to meet all the VIPs and witness all the important events of the real history the novel is based within.
    It works because it’s interesting, and the character is often meeting the people and seeing the things I’d want to see myself if I only had a time machine. Of course, it falls apart if the author hasn’t done her homework on the real person/event and I have, leaving me to roll my eyes over a presentation of, say, the Duke of Wellington as a cuddly nicey-nice teddy bear of a man. But on the whole it’s an unbelievable plot device that I’m happy to suspend disbelief in for a few hundred pages.

    Reply
  10. There have been scores, probably hundreds, of well-documented cases of women passing successfully as men in the most surprising situations, many of whom were revealed as female only after death. It is safe to assume that there were many more cases that were never recorded historically.
    I had an interesting link with a list of the better-known examples, but that was one a previous computer. 🙁

    Reply
  11. There have been scores, probably hundreds, of well-documented cases of women passing successfully as men in the most surprising situations, many of whom were revealed as female only after death. It is safe to assume that there were many more cases that were never recorded historically.
    I had an interesting link with a list of the better-known examples, but that was one a previous computer. 🙁

    Reply
  12. There have been scores, probably hundreds, of well-documented cases of women passing successfully as men in the most surprising situations, many of whom were revealed as female only after death. It is safe to assume that there were many more cases that were never recorded historically.
    I had an interesting link with a list of the better-known examples, but that was one a previous computer. 🙁

    Reply
  13. I’ll stick on my moustache and hop back in here to clarify my stance about the disguised heroines:
    I agree, there are a surprising number of “real life” examples of women who dressed and passed as men in history. They’ve turned up in various armies, on whaleships, and in Nelson’s navy. And I think that because in the past people were much more gender-specific in their wardrobes (if you wore skirts you were female; if you wore breeches/trousers/pants, you were a guy, then others were inclined to believe what they saw. And it would have to be person-by-person case, too; we’ve all known women that at a quick glance could’ve been men.
    I’ve also been waiting for some austute reader to say “Hey! Miranda! You did that stunt yourself in WISHING!” Well, yeah, I did ; but my cross-dressing heroine had worked most of her life on her father’s fishing boat and becase of it was far more comfortable in men’s clothes than women’s. Besides, the hero figured it out pretty quick. 🙂
    My objection are to the heroines who are described as luscious and ultra-feminine, but then suddenly have to “pass” as male with a minimum of alteration or training. When they finally shed their manly disguise, they look like one of “The Girls Next Door” to the delighted amazement of the hero.
    Susan, I know what you mean about the “Henry Family Syndrome” — though I always think of it as “Zelig Syndrome” after the Woody Allen movie. Same effect, though. 🙂

    Reply
  14. I’ll stick on my moustache and hop back in here to clarify my stance about the disguised heroines:
    I agree, there are a surprising number of “real life” examples of women who dressed and passed as men in history. They’ve turned up in various armies, on whaleships, and in Nelson’s navy. And I think that because in the past people were much more gender-specific in their wardrobes (if you wore skirts you were female; if you wore breeches/trousers/pants, you were a guy, then others were inclined to believe what they saw. And it would have to be person-by-person case, too; we’ve all known women that at a quick glance could’ve been men.
    I’ve also been waiting for some austute reader to say “Hey! Miranda! You did that stunt yourself in WISHING!” Well, yeah, I did ; but my cross-dressing heroine had worked most of her life on her father’s fishing boat and becase of it was far more comfortable in men’s clothes than women’s. Besides, the hero figured it out pretty quick. 🙂
    My objection are to the heroines who are described as luscious and ultra-feminine, but then suddenly have to “pass” as male with a minimum of alteration or training. When they finally shed their manly disguise, they look like one of “The Girls Next Door” to the delighted amazement of the hero.
    Susan, I know what you mean about the “Henry Family Syndrome” — though I always think of it as “Zelig Syndrome” after the Woody Allen movie. Same effect, though. 🙂

    Reply
  15. I’ll stick on my moustache and hop back in here to clarify my stance about the disguised heroines:
    I agree, there are a surprising number of “real life” examples of women who dressed and passed as men in history. They’ve turned up in various armies, on whaleships, and in Nelson’s navy. And I think that because in the past people were much more gender-specific in their wardrobes (if you wore skirts you were female; if you wore breeches/trousers/pants, you were a guy, then others were inclined to believe what they saw. And it would have to be person-by-person case, too; we’ve all known women that at a quick glance could’ve been men.
    I’ve also been waiting for some austute reader to say “Hey! Miranda! You did that stunt yourself in WISHING!” Well, yeah, I did ; but my cross-dressing heroine had worked most of her life on her father’s fishing boat and becase of it was far more comfortable in men’s clothes than women’s. Besides, the hero figured it out pretty quick. 🙂
    My objection are to the heroines who are described as luscious and ultra-feminine, but then suddenly have to “pass” as male with a minimum of alteration or training. When they finally shed their manly disguise, they look like one of “The Girls Next Door” to the delighted amazement of the hero.
    Susan, I know what you mean about the “Henry Family Syndrome” — though I always think of it as “Zelig Syndrome” after the Woody Allen movie. Same effect, though. 🙂

    Reply
  16. Jo here. Great comments. Sorry not to have responded before. I write in the morning and today we decided to tackle the 300+ apples in the basement.
    Absolutely on women passing as men and men passing as women — which is a bit easier when fancy fashion and make up is involved. However as Susan says it’s the type of man or woman and what they pretend to be.
    There are many people whose appearance is somewhere in the middle. On my trip I walked into an airport washroom and saw someone washing their hands who I would have sworn was male. I double-checked where I was pretty hastily! Since the person showed no awkwardness, I assume she was a she, but in rough jeans, a ballcap, short hair and a very uncurvy body she could certainly pass as male almost anywhere.
    Also, many men are fine-boned and slender so as someone said, when people were mostly what they seemed to be, people will just think lightly-built male.
    I did a heroine passing as male in My Lady Notorious, but I had her passing as a youth, with genuinely very short hair, and a slightly masculine shape to her face — square chin etc. I matched her with a guy who could easily pass as female and had fun with it.
    Of course the cover showed a lady with flowing tresses in the arms of a muscular hunk with stubble, but there you go!
    Any other unbelievable plot aspects?
    And what makes them work when they do?
    Jo

    Reply
  17. Jo here. Great comments. Sorry not to have responded before. I write in the morning and today we decided to tackle the 300+ apples in the basement.
    Absolutely on women passing as men and men passing as women — which is a bit easier when fancy fashion and make up is involved. However as Susan says it’s the type of man or woman and what they pretend to be.
    There are many people whose appearance is somewhere in the middle. On my trip I walked into an airport washroom and saw someone washing their hands who I would have sworn was male. I double-checked where I was pretty hastily! Since the person showed no awkwardness, I assume she was a she, but in rough jeans, a ballcap, short hair and a very uncurvy body she could certainly pass as male almost anywhere.
    Also, many men are fine-boned and slender so as someone said, when people were mostly what they seemed to be, people will just think lightly-built male.
    I did a heroine passing as male in My Lady Notorious, but I had her passing as a youth, with genuinely very short hair, and a slightly masculine shape to her face — square chin etc. I matched her with a guy who could easily pass as female and had fun with it.
    Of course the cover showed a lady with flowing tresses in the arms of a muscular hunk with stubble, but there you go!
    Any other unbelievable plot aspects?
    And what makes them work when they do?
    Jo

    Reply
  18. Jo here. Great comments. Sorry not to have responded before. I write in the morning and today we decided to tackle the 300+ apples in the basement.
    Absolutely on women passing as men and men passing as women — which is a bit easier when fancy fashion and make up is involved. However as Susan says it’s the type of man or woman and what they pretend to be.
    There are many people whose appearance is somewhere in the middle. On my trip I walked into an airport washroom and saw someone washing their hands who I would have sworn was male. I double-checked where I was pretty hastily! Since the person showed no awkwardness, I assume she was a she, but in rough jeans, a ballcap, short hair and a very uncurvy body she could certainly pass as male almost anywhere.
    Also, many men are fine-boned and slender so as someone said, when people were mostly what they seemed to be, people will just think lightly-built male.
    I did a heroine passing as male in My Lady Notorious, but I had her passing as a youth, with genuinely very short hair, and a slightly masculine shape to her face — square chin etc. I matched her with a guy who could easily pass as female and had fun with it.
    Of course the cover showed a lady with flowing tresses in the arms of a muscular hunk with stubble, but there you go!
    Any other unbelievable plot aspects?
    And what makes them work when they do?
    Jo

    Reply
  19. Jo: CONGRATULATIONS on making the PW list! That’s great news indeed. A fitting tribute to Dare. 🙂
    I enjoyed your musings on believability. I will swallow an implausibility or two if well-grounded and I’m enjoying the book, but the author has to make some effort to make thing believable. I’ve done only one female-passing-as-male story (Angel Rogue, and she was very petite, had hat that blocked out a lot of her face, and passed as a younger and less sexually differentiated boy rather than a man. I’m another who trouble accepting that a girly-girl can pass as a man easily.
    (And aren’t heroes really good at scenting the pheromones and seeing through the disguise? :))
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  20. Jo: CONGRATULATIONS on making the PW list! That’s great news indeed. A fitting tribute to Dare. 🙂
    I enjoyed your musings on believability. I will swallow an implausibility or two if well-grounded and I’m enjoying the book, but the author has to make some effort to make thing believable. I’ve done only one female-passing-as-male story (Angel Rogue, and she was very petite, had hat that blocked out a lot of her face, and passed as a younger and less sexually differentiated boy rather than a man. I’m another who trouble accepting that a girly-girl can pass as a man easily.
    (And aren’t heroes really good at scenting the pheromones and seeing through the disguise? :))
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  21. Jo: CONGRATULATIONS on making the PW list! That’s great news indeed. A fitting tribute to Dare. 🙂
    I enjoyed your musings on believability. I will swallow an implausibility or two if well-grounded and I’m enjoying the book, but the author has to make some effort to make thing believable. I’ve done only one female-passing-as-male story (Angel Rogue, and she was very petite, had hat that blocked out a lot of her face, and passed as a younger and less sexually differentiated boy rather than a man. I’m another who trouble accepting that a girly-girl can pass as a man easily.
    (And aren’t heroes really good at scenting the pheromones and seeing through the disguise? :))
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  22. But MJ… how about Troth in The China Bride? She made a very convincing male. Had Kyle fooled for about three, maybe four chapters. Love that story. 🙂
    And Jo… congrates on your book. It is a fab read.
    As for unbelievability… in my world, it will get a book tossed every time.

    Reply
  23. But MJ… how about Troth in The China Bride? She made a very convincing male. Had Kyle fooled for about three, maybe four chapters. Love that story. 🙂
    And Jo… congrates on your book. It is a fab read.
    As for unbelievability… in my world, it will get a book tossed every time.

    Reply
  24. But MJ… how about Troth in The China Bride? She made a very convincing male. Had Kyle fooled for about three, maybe four chapters. Love that story. 🙂
    And Jo… congrates on your book. It is a fab read.
    As for unbelievability… in my world, it will get a book tossed every time.

    Reply
  25. On Dr. James Barry:
    One of my critique partners has written a *long* historical fiction novel covering James Barry’s years in Cape Town, with references back to James’ days in medical school in Edinburgh.
    It’s fabulous and deserving of publication. In full. 🙂
    On believable fiction:
    I have a hard time with heroes and heroines who are too perfect-looking, unless they’re a celebrated “toast.” Stunning looks are difficult to hide and aren’t suddenly brought out by a change of clothes and a bath.They also attract lots of attention, oftentimes negative, just ask Hardy’s Tess.
    And string me up by my toes for treason, but I can’t buy Navy Seals as romantic heroes. They have *hearts?* ;-j
    Jane

    Reply
  26. On Dr. James Barry:
    One of my critique partners has written a *long* historical fiction novel covering James Barry’s years in Cape Town, with references back to James’ days in medical school in Edinburgh.
    It’s fabulous and deserving of publication. In full. 🙂
    On believable fiction:
    I have a hard time with heroes and heroines who are too perfect-looking, unless they’re a celebrated “toast.” Stunning looks are difficult to hide and aren’t suddenly brought out by a change of clothes and a bath.They also attract lots of attention, oftentimes negative, just ask Hardy’s Tess.
    And string me up by my toes for treason, but I can’t buy Navy Seals as romantic heroes. They have *hearts?* ;-j
    Jane

    Reply
  27. On Dr. James Barry:
    One of my critique partners has written a *long* historical fiction novel covering James Barry’s years in Cape Town, with references back to James’ days in medical school in Edinburgh.
    It’s fabulous and deserving of publication. In full. 🙂
    On believable fiction:
    I have a hard time with heroes and heroines who are too perfect-looking, unless they’re a celebrated “toast.” Stunning looks are difficult to hide and aren’t suddenly brought out by a change of clothes and a bath.They also attract lots of attention, oftentimes negative, just ask Hardy’s Tess.
    And string me up by my toes for treason, but I can’t buy Navy Seals as romantic heroes. They have *hearts?* ;-j
    Jane

    Reply
  28. What about the true story of the French diplomat who had a long affair with a Chinese woman and even had a child by her. Later, she was revealed to have been a man. There is a pretty famous play about this, but I’ve forgotten its name. Apparently the Chinese government set this up for blackmail, as I vaguely remember; the “woman” was in the Chinese opera. I saw the man interviewed on “60 Minutes” and I think he said he had no idea that his lover was really a man. He just thought she was very, very modest, they always made love in the dark and he never saw her body. The lover had apparently taped his genitals (which I really can’t envision). Naturally, the child was not his.

    Reply
  29. What about the true story of the French diplomat who had a long affair with a Chinese woman and even had a child by her. Later, she was revealed to have been a man. There is a pretty famous play about this, but I’ve forgotten its name. Apparently the Chinese government set this up for blackmail, as I vaguely remember; the “woman” was in the Chinese opera. I saw the man interviewed on “60 Minutes” and I think he said he had no idea that his lover was really a man. He just thought she was very, very modest, they always made love in the dark and he never saw her body. The lover had apparently taped his genitals (which I really can’t envision). Naturally, the child was not his.

    Reply
  30. What about the true story of the French diplomat who had a long affair with a Chinese woman and even had a child by her. Later, she was revealed to have been a man. There is a pretty famous play about this, but I’ve forgotten its name. Apparently the Chinese government set this up for blackmail, as I vaguely remember; the “woman” was in the Chinese opera. I saw the man interviewed on “60 Minutes” and I think he said he had no idea that his lover was really a man. He just thought she was very, very modest, they always made love in the dark and he never saw her body. The lover had apparently taped his genitals (which I really can’t envision). Naturally, the child was not his.

    Reply

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