Valentine's Day

His Valentine's Day Date Turned Out To Be A Con Artist

Call it a rom con.

by Bustle
Collage of a girl with headphones on and a phone next to her wine, wallet, and cake
Marco Govel/Stocksy, Daniela Simona Temneanu/EyeEm, Lew Robertson, Steven Puetzer/GettyImages

Few entertainment genres are as intrinsic to Bustle's identity as the rom com. This week, leading up to Valentine's Day, Bustle partnered with the podcast Meet Cute to explore the real-life romcoms unfolding all around us. Today Meet Cute premieres a brand new fictional episode, "Thief of Love," written by Britt Brewer, about a Valentine's date that isn't at all what it seems.

In an era when we’re all enthralled by grifters, what love story isn’t improved by starting out as a con? That’s the premise of the brand new fictional episode MeetCute released today, Feb. 14.

The setup is perfect: Gary, a Silicon Valley tech bro, is drinking alone at a bar on Valentine’s Day. A woman named Scout sits down and asks him to pretend to be her date because her ex is sitting right over there. This would already be fun, especially as the two hit it off, but when Scout leaves, Gary discovers her intentions weren’t quite so adorable. What Scout hasn’t counted on is Gary being the sort of dude who has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect himself — yes, there is a tracking chip involved — so he has no problem catching up to her.

The writer, Britt Brewer, started with the idea of a woman who was an imposter. "I was thinking of that movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — someone pretending to be someone else, and how madcap that can be." She especially loved that setup for a Meet Cute scheduled for Valentine's Day; it makes for exactly the non-hokey love story this made-by-Hallmark holiday is missing. Instead of a rom com, call it a rom con.

"I wanted to do something kind of dicey where someone was grifting someone. 'It'll raise the stakes,'" Brewer thought, without undermining the comfort that rom coms in particular have offered people during the pandemic. She has always been a die hard fan of the genre, but in the past year she has noticed a lot of other people coming around to them. "I notice an uptick," she says. "They're a very cozy watch."

That's why Brewer wasn't worried about listeners buying the idea Gary falling for a person who just stole from him. In all rom coms, "If you believe the chemistry between the two leads, you'll suspend reality," Brewer says. Besides, improbable pairings and ensuing hijinks are part of why we watch. The best rom com characters "are people doing extraordinary things in ordinary environments. No one would stand up at a wedding and say, 'These two can't be together.' But sometimes we would like to."

And with most people spending our annual Day of Love at home this year, love isn't even the most romantic part of "Thief of Love," Brewer says. The biggest fantasy in this Meet Cute isn't a fun, sparks-flying Valentine's date or even falling for a crook. "It's meeting someone in a bar. That feels so foreign right now."

Subscribe to Meet Cute to listen to "Thief of Love" now, plus a whole archive of enchanting 15-minute audio rom coms.

Also, Meet Cute is looking for real-life love stories to turn into feel-good rom coms! You can send them the story of how you and your partner met here, or DM them on Twitter (@listenmeetcute) or Instagram (@meetcute)!