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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Drama Mama

You know what really cracks me up? Facebook. I mean, some of it is fun. I love seeing photos of my friends' kids, hearing their funny stories. It’s almost like being part of someone’s life minus all that exhausting effort of actually being involved. (Grin) In fact, you don’t even need to comment. You can simply click a thumbs up, which is like saying, “Hey, I saw that thing you did and, uh, I liked it.”

I do give a thumbs up to FB’s ability to keep me up to date on the lives of my friends who live far away. What they have to say is humorous, entertaining or inspiring, thank goodness. But if I Facebooked everything I have the option of posting, do you think anyone would want to be my friend? Here is an example… Tonight I (DRUM ROLL) ordered (Wait for it! Waaaiiiittt!) A PIZZA FROM DOMINO’S!!!! (Wild cheering! Confetti dropping! Ladies swooning!)

Yes, folks, I ordered a pizza. Now, with a show of thumbs, how many people care? Eight thumbs just went up in our household, because there are four of us, we each have two thumbs and we are hungry. But aside from our clan, I can’t imagine anyone would care. It’s one of those little details best celebrated within the confines of our home.

Speaking of mind-numbing details, have you ever spoken with a person who had this very interesting story to tell, but they spent half an hour just setting it up or went off on so many tangents, you forgot the topic of discussion?

I woke this morning. It was still dark outside. I rolled over and looked at the glowing red clock. It was four a.m. I flipped my pillow, because I always do that, don't you? I tossed a few times before throwing my plaid flannel blanket aside. I knew I couldn’t go back to sleep after fifteen minutes, so I sat on the edge of my queen-sized pillow top mattress. I put on my pink slippers, stood up, exited my bedroom and passed the broken down brown recliner on my way to my 1970s kitchen to make coffee. Only I didn’t have any ground coffee so I had to find the coffee grinder and beans my wealthy high-powered executive sister gave me last Christmas. OH, MY GOSH! RIPPING MY HAIR OUT NOW!

One of my friends has a word for these people. Vanilla. Vanilla is great. Don't get me wrong, but it isn't as exciting as Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey. Focusing on the mundane creates a boring story. Sorry, but it's true. If I wanted to read about real life, I'd... Well, I'd put down the book and just live it.

My seven year old daughter said to me today about a classmate, "If Sally Mae isn't at school, there's no drama." I couldn't help but giggle. Whereas we might not appreciate the drama queens in real life, over-the-top is fun in fiction and exaggeration creates more memorable images.

For example, instead of saying a person was embarrassed, you could say his face was redder than Uncle Hester's bloodshot eyes on New Year's day. Or you could go a bit more traditional and say as red as a Big Boy tomato. The point is to create a strong image or emotional response, like perhaps a laugh. It is not meant to be read literally, and it is supposed to be borderline outrageous if not outright ludicrous. There's even a name for this technique. It's called hyperbole.

Back to my uninteresting story of ordering pizza. If all I said was, "Guess what I did last night? I ordered a pizza," you’d say, “Who cares?” Or, if you are a smarty-pants like my friend, Herman, you might say, "Congratulations. You must be very proud." But by simply adding a little dramatic flourish, the story of how I came to decide to order pizza and the aftermath might amuse you.

It all started with an innocent act. My daughter propped the front door open while she balanced twenty plus stuffed animals that had been scattered over our lawn seconds earlier. At this exact moment, our neurotic neighbor walked by with his dog, a husky with Paul Newman eyes and a bad disposition. On more than one occasion, our neighbor has cautioned us that his superior canine will annihilate our dog with the speed of a Ninja if she comes too close. And he must really be worried, because he wears a leash contraption wrapped around his body that is a cross between a fly-fishing rod and hospital traction. That dog isn’t going anywhere.

As the neighbor passed by, my daughter called out a greeting, waking our dog from a nap and enticing her to dash from the house to accost the killer fluff ball. Immediately, I tore after Dani, but one can only run so fast in Mr. Bunn Bunn bunny slippers. Our neighbor bellowed, “Get your dog! Get your dog!” while slinging the leash in the air like a lion tamer's whip. I yelled back, “I’m trying! I’m trying!” as I darted in circles grabbing for Dani's collar. It was the lamest three ring circus ever to come to our town.


Finally, I gained control of the situation and wrestled our 60 pound muscle-bound trouble-maker back inside. Things have never been the smoothest with this neighbor, so the encounter shook me up. To calm my nerves, I took a time-out in our hot tub where I floated, splashed water on my face and chanted, "Take me away. Take me away." Obviously, cooking was out of the question by this point, so I ordered on line from Domino's Pizza.

While I waited for the delivery guy, I had a conversation with my husband, next my son and then my daughter. Three different conversations! Never once did anyone mentioned anything odd about my appearance, so I just assumed the pizza guy was in a very good mood with all that smiling. In fact, we sat through the whole meal without anyone telling me I looked like a one-eyed Alice Cooper. My entire eyelid and underneath my eye was black! Of course, I didn’t discover this until I checked my reflection in the bathroom mirror before I headed to the mall to buy a hat for “Silly Hat Day” for my son. Good thing I checked. Thanks for having my back, family.

Have you ever had a real life situation that you know would make a good scene in a book? Did you use it? Why or why not?

10 comments:

  1. Fantastic! Love the story. How is it our family fails to tell us when we have make-up under our eye, or half a salad between our teeth, or peanut butter in our hair?

    Now to the actual question you asked, yes, my story has a squirrel, a dog, an aggressive deer, and me in a nightgown. Maybe I'll use it if I ever write a book or short story.

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  2. LOL, if I wrote about a real life situation, it would either be too boring for words, or too crazy for anyone to be able to believe. Stranger than fiction, you know? Still, I think that there is something to be said for finding ways of writing about things that really happen, but making them both interesting and believable.

    I did take a class in non-fiction a few semesters ago, and wrote a short memoir-esque piece. That exercise gave me a new appreciation for how difficult this task can be!

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  3. Samantha -

    That is hilarious. Now I'm so focused on your story, I can't think of own that's happened to me. But I always make up the stories I write about. :)

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  4. Green Girl,

    I would love to read that story. The premise already has me giggling. Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  5. Its great to hear and appreciate the little things in life that makes the world go around.I appreciate you sharing.Your family means alot to me and I cant wait for the oppurtunity to meet ya'll.Great story and the most important thing for me is to cherish the small things in life,during and after.People take so much for granted anymore,and it takes away from the quality of living life.Glad to see you dont.Take Care.
    PEACE
    Rick D
    PS~Tell Kev I said hello.

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  6. Can you use this in one of your stories?? A lovely and incredibly skilled social worker, frustrated about trying to get into a locked hotel room to check on a suicidal client, in HIGH HEELS nonetheless, who finds herself smack dab in the middle of a drug raid/sting, complete with undercover local sheriff's officers and their big rifles!

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  7. A lot of funny stories here today. I occasionally try to work real-life events into my stories. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Guess I should hire you, Samantha, to ghost write the funny parts. :)

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  8. Anonymous,

    I totally forgot about that story, but I never laughed so hard in all my life. The best part was the SWAT Team in the bushes and the sassy SW about to give them a piece of her mind. LOL! That would make a great scene.

    Rick,

    Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy your comments. And how true it is to cherish the little things. :)

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  9. Samantha, you're hilarious! I can just see your "three ring circus." And the eye makeup...been there. Love truly must be blind because Eric has let me walk around looking wrecked before! I never trust when I ask if I look okay, and he says yes. LOL!

    As for real life scenes in my books...I always draw from my life experience, but I don't know that I've written a whole scene based on something real. Maybe I'll try it and see how it goes...it would SO not be a comedy, though! My most interesting stories would be the big family blow-outs from years ago...not sure I even want to go there. LOL!

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  10. My dh would make a great bogan character for a modern story.

    Start with a half slab of beer (slab is 24), add 44 gallon drum, slightly green twigs and branches from surrounding trees that needs to be burnt, plus matches. Oh, and of course, since the green twigs wont burn, a dash of petrol while the wife isn't looking.

    Ka Boom!

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