Lombardi Column: Keeping North Fork safe for romantics

Homeland Security should be notified. I say this because there are some folks on the North Fork leading a double life. That may sound a little James Bondish, but in these times you gotta be cautious.

It’s like this. North Forkers are generally considered pretty ordinary. We’re farmers, storekeepers, teachers, plumbers and so forth. Very little glitz about us or our lifestyle. Roads are empty after dark, we try to pay our bills on time, our homes are comfortable and traditional for the most part. A kind of ho-hum life.

Yet there’s a group of North Fork people — who knows how many — who are looking for romance. With Valentine’s Day coming up, that spells trouble to me. So I’m thinking of phoning Janet Napolitano. I’ve seen her photo in newspapers and she looks like an understanding lady, even if she does run Homeland Security.

Here’s what I’d tell Janet. On a recent Saturday afternoon, out in the open at the Southold library, a group of well-behaved, proper-looking adults gathered to discuss romance. This could mean just about anything — from finding a mate to the adventure, mystery and excitement of roaming the North Fork, a modern-day outlaw Robin Hood and friends.

Anyway, I’d explain to Janet it was my civic duty to attend the meeting. Ferret out the troublemakers. Janet would understand. So I dressed to deceive, wearing a silk scarf at the neck of my flannel shirt. And a little perfume. That way I’d look and smell romantic.

I drove to Southold, parked a distance from the library, and carried a book. I wanted to seem purposeful as well as romantic. In the library I asked where the romantics were meeting. “Downstairs” was the whispered reply.

Thus to the subterranean room I went, apprehensive, yes, but determined to help the North Fork and my country. Romance, indeed! Why, that could lead to all kinds of unconventional behavior.

I must say, the meeting room was well-lit. The only furniture was a long metal table and 20 folding chairs. No place for evildoers to hide. I sat next to a woman who identified herself as Beth Glash. I’m sure that was her real name because I asked her how to spell it and she didn’t hesitate for a minute.

Beth Glash put my fears to rest. This romance group was not secretive, not nefarious. Simply a chapter of Romance Writers of America. And this East End chapter had the most romantic name: Dunes and Dreams.

Much relieved, I talked with Beth. She’s originally from the same New Jersey town where my brother lives — Pequannock. Isn’t that romantic? Beth is working on the closing volume of her romantic trilogy. It’s set in Ocean Grove, N.J. But that’s OK.

Dunes and Dreams president Gina Ardito called the meeting to order and explained to newcomers that the chapter meets monthly. And there are all kinds of classes and workshops, too. Like the one titled “Romancing the Palate.” This could help an author write a restaurant scene, a food-related love scene, a character who’s a chef.

Gina introduced the chapter’s president-elect, Debora Dennis. I liked her but she used romance words I’d never heard of: Kindle, Nook and E-pub. Electronic reading stuff. Personally, I enjoy romance words like smile and seduce, but Debora didn’t mention them.

Southold romance writer Bertrice Small was fun to listen to. She said guys often write romance using female names. I’d heard only of women using male pen names. Bertrice was serious, too. For good writing, she said you should “start at the beginning with a course on English language usage.” She should know. She’s published lots.

Yes, there was a man in the room. He was friendly and handsome and probably romantic, although I don’t know about that. His name? Tom Gahan. This Riverhead writer authored “Harmony Bay.” I’ll certainly check it out.

So if you want a little love in your life, get in touch with Dunes and Dreams. And I think I’ll contact Janet Napolitano with some good news. There’s no St. Valentine’s Day mayhem brewing on the North Fork. Just a little romance.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.