a writer. That explains
everything: Why I wear a bib to catch the drool whether I’m shopping in
a stationery store or a fudge shop. Why I spend more money on books
than on cleaning supplies. Or linens. Or non-research-related
It explains why I itch to edit
the closed captioning at the bottom of the screen during the news. And
why I take notes during movies, sermons, and funerals. (I’m not invited
to a lot of funerals anymore.)
A long time ago, my passion for
writing eclipsed my passion for, say, exercising. I tried the Snowflake
method on my parenting. I resolve family debates by charting our
goal-motivation-conflict patterns and our MRUs. My husband wonders if
writing is my calling or a condition.
But it explains my behavior.
Writing dictates that I hone my
powers of observation. I’m conscious of the slight change in the
refrigerator’s hum when the weather heats up. I note how the dew on a
hosta leaf reflects the camera directed on it. And how the slight slump
of my hairdresser’s shoulders tells me how her date went, before she
opens her mouth.
The fact that I’m a writer also
explains why I’m perfecting the art of snobservation. Observers
sometimes rush to help in time of need. Snobservers let the scene play
out. Raft over a waterfall? I wonder what that sounds like. Priceless
Ming vase about to topple off the mantel in the museum? How far will
the shards scatter? Runaway vehicle headed for the cliff? I’d step in
to help, but my WIP has a runaway vehicle and I don’t know how else to
find out if the engine will kill in the air or on impact. It’s all
I stood behind a beautiful young
woman in line at Wendy’s fast food restaurant the other day. She
sported the perfect, I mean perfect, hairdo. Soft,
face-framing waves of exotic mahogany.
The woman was disgustingly thin.
That’s my assessment. Others would say she was physically fit, which I
find disgusting, hence...
She wore a crisp white T-shirt,
which told me she isn’t old enough to have children. Moms don’t do
“crisp.” And, this was the startling part, her skirt matched her hair.
No kidding. Talk about a picture of together.
As she stepped toward the
counter to place her order, I snobserved it. Just south of her
hinterparts. A rip in the back seam of her oh-so-narrow silk skirt. Not
gaping or anything. People that thin just do not gape.
Now, the kind thing to do would
have been to sidle up to her and whisper, “Sweetie, your skirt is
ripped in the back. Thought you’d want to know.” Then smile
apologetically and say with my eyes, “No big deal, miss. You’ll never
see me again.”
But I’m a writer. That explains
I didn’t tell her. Why? Because
I wanted to observe the scene in case I needed something similar for a
novel plot point. Perfectly understandable.
took her order to a table along the window wall and sat down across
from a most untogether, mismatched older woman
leaning on a walker. Seated, but leaning on the walker anyway. She’d
missed the memo that avocado polyester pants do not go with anything,
much less a grass green blouse. The older woman’s hair lacked any
discernable shape at all. And color? What’s the word for the color of a
paper towel soaked in chicken broth?
Mahogany’s grandmother? No
family resemblance. This required more observation.
Amiable conversation, from the
look of it. I chose a table just out of earshot. What was I thinking? Out
Would Grandma say something
about her granddaughter’s split skirt? Ah, the girl rose from the table
and headed toward the restroom. Grandma was sure to notice the problem.
Maybe she wasn’t a granddaughter
at all. Maybe the young woman was a representative from the Department
of Aging, and she took the poor elderly woman to lunch to tell her
she’s being kicked out of her subsidized housing. The ratfink!
Or maybe the young woman was a
former student of the former teacher and she just heard that the older
woman uses marijuana for cancer nausea relief and thought she could
lift a few joints from the faded needlepoint tote bag while the lady
eats her Frosty.
Or maybe she was a money-hungry
relative trying to talk Grams into changing her will . . . and didn’t I
just see her slip something powdery into Grams’ coffee? Sure, it looked
like artificial creamer, but one never knows.
If I were Grams, I wouldn’t tell
her about the split skirt, either. Let the cops do that when they haul
her sorry hinterparts off to jail.
Judgmental? Not me. I’m a
writer. That explains everything.