Sunday, March 10, 2013

Random People, Random Places: Lucy and Roger

I used to write free hand, then come back to my desk and type it up. It nearly tripled the time to write things, but I was much happier with my end product. So, now that the weather is nice, I'll start doing that again. Today's fiction was written outside first, then posted here. One thing I do like about this method is, besides higher quality (and being outside) we get more written per session, since during the typing up, we can layer in some better jokes and bridges. It works best for comedy where getting the bon mot to make something funny, while keeping characterization consistent, is hard.

For example, the initial hand written draft has Roger being a bit more dirty old man than was comfortable for what little characterization he has had, which I would have hated if I posted it that way. He's still a bit dirty on the edit and re-write, but it is in a way that feels more right for him, without losing the general thrust of the conversation.

Sadly, I do think this might be Roger's last scene (it currently is in my current timeline), but I like him. He also serves to help show Lucy in her comfort zone; she's never quite in it with the other people, so she's almost a different person in her scenes with him, which initially was a chance to show her potential in becoming more assertive and confident, but which isn't as important now that we can see her taking a stand against Jon (in an aggressive way) and with Christine (in a playful, friendly way.) Poor, plot redundant Roger.

Random People, Random Places

During my walk today, I decided it had been a year or so, so it was time to replace my worn out shoes. I only keep two pairs (a pair of sneakers and a pair of work shoes; well, and a pair of Red Cross flip-flops, but flip-flops aren't shoes.) While there, the woman at the check out desk tried to get me to sign up for some sort of shoe-rewards program. I politely declined. When pressed for a reason, I gave one.

"No thank you; I buy new shoes maybe once a year."

"You should buy more shoes."

"No thank you."

"See you next year," she said. It was a very friendly business transaction. Fiction below the fold, table of contents here.

* * *

In a way, Christine was right. Being mistaken for gay is Sam’s own fault for lying and not doing his homework. The irresponsible people in my calculus class in high school always suffered for not doing their homework. There’s a reason the teacher asks you to do the drills! You always find out who you’re talking to is. So, it was his own fault, and when he finds out, he’ll be mortified.

I felt something like pity for him, but I had pitied him so often I knew it wasn’t that. I know what that feels like. Sort of like I know when a guy hitting on me is hitting on me or is hitting on a woman. It’s a distinction Christine doesn’t seem to get. “I want the guy to hit on me.”

“He is!”

“No; he’d hit on any girl sitting here at this specific moment in time. I don’t want to give him my number. He just wants a girl’s number.”

“You’re a girl. Give him your number,” Christine would say. Then I’d harrumph and accidentally transpose two of the numbers when the guy came back to make her happy. I always felt bad for the guy, but I figure he’d probably go home with more than one number.

Anyway, I told Christine that this mistake would humiliate Sam. Christine just smiled: “I hope we’re there then. You make him sound so creepy.” She was into her second daiquiri, so what little filter she had was pretty much gone.

By the time I’d dropped her off back at home, I was a little late getting to the station. Which was subdued; Roger was agitated there, scratching at his stubble of a beard. “The talent’s late.”

The way he said talent was like when the cheer squad said that their nerdy math tutor was late. A respectful loathing born from understanding that a sort of unequal exchange was going to happen. The cheer squad preferred when I tutored since I didn’t stare at their cleavage with the same mystified wonder they looked at the advanced calc equations. Come to think of it, our cheer squad was actually pretty smart. I guess this story kind of doesn’t quite work the same then. Roger cut me off at this point in my story:

“Unless this story ends with pillow fights after doing each other’s hair at slumber parties on the night that the entire cheer squad’s coincidentally turned 18, let’s skip the rest of it.”

Roger can be a dirty old man, but he has his dignity. “No, I tutored during free period.”

“Well, then, looks like we’re skipping this story. Waffles after work?”

“It was a good story; you would like it. There’s a moral and everything.”

“Did you attend a Catholic school with uniforms?”

“No.”

“Then the moral is: Tell more interesting stories,” Roger said. “Now, do you want to get waffles?”

I always want to get waffles with Roger. He tells good stories, though I think he makes some of them up. No one man could happen across that many famous people with flat tires. “That matters Roger, do I have to wear pig tails and pajamas?”

“Or a Catholic school girl uniform. Your choice; at least I’ll know the waiter will pay attention to us.”

“What if we have a waitress?”

“Well, then we’ll rely on my animal magnetism, which surely you’ve noticed,” Roger said. “Now, go check the cameras.”

That’s why I liked Roger. He was easy to get along with. And he was OK with being cut down to size. I just didn’t have any good come backs at the ready, so I went to check the cameras. Ever since I had started sparring with Jon, I had found that I was getting better at my job too. People listened to me now; I didn’t have to beg, wheedle and plead to get help. I liked the command in my voice.

Christine, of course, had another suggestion besides confidence. “Try showing a little leg,” she had said at the bar. “Then the guys would listen more.”

“Yeah, well, if you showed a little leg, you’d be showing all leg.” She didn’t get it. “Because you’re short. So you have tiny legs.” I thought it was a very good short joke.

Christine reached over and patted my hand in a gentle, patronizing way: “That’s adorable Lucy. Just remember: Men like their women short so it is easier for us to go d—”

“We’re done. La, la, la.” Cutting Christine off before she got too dirty.

“I was going to say dancing, you prude.” She was always so lewd, so I was suspicious about her claims. Besides, I said, men hate dancing. Also, isn’t it harder to lead a short woman than a tall one? I mean, they might have to stand awkwardly and take little steps. In short: I did not believe her.

“I meant it euphemistically,” Christine said, blowing bubbles into her drink for emphasis. I should never have taught her that word. I was still fuming thinking about the little strawberry bubbles when I came back to Roger with the cameras in proper order. Then, I noticed my box was missing. Roger claimed to not know what box I meant:

“The one my purse lives in during work.”

“Out back; budget came in, and we can replace the puppets with ones that don’t scare the kids or smell bad,” Roger said.

“I guess I’ll just have to carry it all night then.”

“You could carry everything in your pockets.”

“But then I couldn’t do this,” I said. I tried to mimic Christine’s impish grin, but I couldn’t do it. It takes a talent. As the rest of the staff started to file in by Roger wondering about the talent, I cleared my throat and said: “Hey, Roger, could you hold my purse? I need to run and check on something.”

Despite his protests, I threw the bag over his shoulder and dashed outside. I went around back and popped open the box and looked at the moth eaten, stinky puppets. Then, I had an idea. I pulled my car keys from my pocket and dragged the puppet trunk into my back seat. I checked my hair in the rear view mirror and, as a sort of apology for leaving Roger holding the bag, I took my hair down and put it up in pig tails.

It stayed that way for about five minutes, until he called me Pippi Longstockings.

1 comment:

  1. Writing outside then coming inside to retype it up really does help the quality. It is still not publishable level fiction, but the construction (Lucy's stream of consciousness thought) seems a lot easier when I force myself to take more time and not get caught up in the mechanical typing process. My sheet has arrows and scribbles everywhere to help keep the transitions smooth and the bridges light. This is also one of the few sections where, with Lucy narrating, I feel like she's as fun a narrator as Sam (though, I may be wrong and people might actually like Lucy more.)

    Along with "Just write," if asked for writing advice, I might seriously consider this method as something I'd suggest.

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