We're back to regular blogging now that the apartment is set up, PAX is over and I'm on a regular work schedule again. It was not an oversight that Sullivan did not fill in for me; he has stuff and things to do.
In some ways, I feel more closely associated with Lucy than Sam, despite Lucy being a woman. Lucy's thoughts on rules here is something very much like I would say (technically, did say.) I specifically hated the variant rules for checkers growing up. I don't just mean I disliked them, I mean I hated them with a passion.
Anyway, bonus points if you know what quote Lucy is bastardizing. Fiction below the fold, table of contents here.
I have an odd affinity for rules. In Monopoly, do you know what happens if you roll too many doubles? You probably do. Do you know you’re supposed to auction property no one wants to buy? Did you know trading is part of the game? Rules give you structure and purpose; it is why I hate things like “rainbow checkers” and “flying kings.” Rules are well-thought out, carefully planned and designed with goals in mind.
At the Olive Garden, one of our rules is to always give the customer exactly what they order. Even if it is gross, weird or gross-weird — a term Fiona used for some particular requests. You can try and tell them that a wine doesn’t go well with fish, but if they want it, they want it. Maybe their taste buds are all goofy. Who knows? This is true in all customer service jobs: Customers may not know what is good for them, but they usually know what they want. Give it to them.
“Customer service is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard,” was a saying I adopted from something a political science major I dated used to say. He said a lot of silly things like that; he was very much for the common people. Except when they asked for favors, or when he saw them broken down on the side of the road. Or when they wanted to adopt an old English Setter from the shelter and have it live in his apartment until they moved out of the dorms to a place that allowed dogs. Then he was all against the common man.
Revenge, for example, has its own sort of rules. I learned them from reading Poe and being a teenage girl. But, the most important rule was that the victim should never see it coming. Which is why I showed up at Jon’s promptly on Friday, sweetness and light.
“I’m surprised you’re here; I thought you were angry with me.”
“You know how women are,” I said breezing into his place and dropping my purse onto his coffee table. “Just forget about it. We have a speech to write. A real humdinger of a speech. Everyone will be keen about it.”
Ever since Sam had used that word, I’d been dropping it into conversation. I liked the sound of it. The knives in the dishwasher? They’re keen. Christine’s wit? It is keen. It was just a perfect word. It was retro and hip, like my skirt. Things from the 50s are in, I think. Keen is in.
I handed him a draft. He sat down with a brandy and read it. “I thought we agreed not to talk about my wife.”
“You really should,” I said. “I don’t know why, but I was told to particularly press you to mention her.”
“I can’t say,” I said. “But, I really think you should.”
“I’m not going to say any of this drivel. I’m not going to make her out to be a saint.”
“Well, what do you want to say about her?”
And, as usual, he let out the floodgates. Bitter, angry floodgates.
“I think you should stick with ‘She was the love of my life, and I lost her too soon,’ and be done with it,” I said. Then, I let out, quite casually, “Besides, everyone else loves her.”
“No, they love the idea of her. I thought I loved her too.”
“Well, I’m just being paid to write you speeches. I’ve delivered a bunch, some talking about her, some not talking about her—”
“One draft was just a picture of me being shot by lasers.”
“They were very fast bees, stinging you,” I said. “It was a conceptual piece: ‘Bee amazing.’”
He shrugged. He never liked my conceptual pieces. No one did; I tried to get into that post modernism in college but my professor told me my movies made too much sense. I had thought that was the point, but it wasn’t. The point, Christine said, was to make snobby people think that they understand something that people they think are stupid can’t understand. “Which,” she said, “is true of all art.”
“Look, just show up tomorrow on time dressed to impress,” Jon said. “I think your draft has promise. It just needs a little bit of my voice in it, that’s all.”
“Your voice is angry and sad,” I said, honestly trying to empathize with him as he shooed me out the door. “I think you should use my lying voice: It is solemn and resolute. That is a voice people like.”
But, as I thought, he did not listen.