RECEIVED HUNDREDS OF SUBMISSIONS FOR THIS BOOK, AND I'D , SAY at least 40 percent were about love, like, trust, lust, dating, hating, breaking up, or cheating.
Initially, this surprised me. Romance? Granted, Mac wooed at least nine women in season one alone, but his love interests always seemed unnecessary—no one watched MacGyver for the mushy stuff. This book, I'd always imagined, would be about tangible solutions to concrete problems. Blown gaskets. Leaky faucets. Severed bypass lines. What's love got to do with it?
I was profoundly wrong. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I should have known better. The one thing all good MacGyver stories have in common is high stakes. Finding a way out of the situation—it's gotta matter. For Angus MacGyver, that was never an issue. The man saved the world once a week. But the stories in this book are by (and about) real people, not secret agents on TV. And real people don't often find themselves in a situation that requires them to save a life, much less all of Western civilization. Except for doctors, stuntmen, and pro poker players on ESPN, most real people never face higher stakes than the ones they face in love or its immediate precursor, deep like.
Just ask Susan Burton of Brooklyn, who tried to write her way through a breakup (and not in the way you might expect). Or Robin Romm of Berkeley, who exploited her new boyfriend's ego to get him to wear better pants, saving their budding relationship in the process.
As these stories rolled in, a pattern emerged. More so than in any other chapter, the protagonists of these adventures in romance didn't merely need to be clever—they needed to be clever fast. In his story, Chuck Klosterman talked himself into what seemed like an inescapable corner on Valentine's Day before somehow wiggling free at the very last moment. Tiffany Funk, an American college student studying abroad, had less than ninety seconds to perform emergency surgery on her skirt before her date arrived. And Vince, the brilliant antihero of Francine Maroukian's excellent story of high-wire two-timing, well, let's just say that Vince gets the Save of This Book Award.
It's a cliché that in moments of extreme desperation, human beings are able to perform beyond their abilities. But when it comes to the most important moments of all—the moments that make or break the bonds of love—it's a cliché because it's true. The MacGyverisms in this chapter aren't merely acts of improvisational genius; they're potentially life-changing acts of improvisational genius. And in these situations, duct tape is of limited value.
We begin, naturally, on February 14.
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