Friday, May 2, 2008

It's the little things...

As some may have noticed, I often wear a tan vest. It's an outdoorsy thing with lots of pockets and zipper and snaps, and typically gets me asked if I'm fisherman or a hunter. Alas, no, I explain -- I just like all the pockets, and wouldn't know a fishing pole from a thirty-aught-six if you goosed me with one. Or the other.

Anyway, this vest is handy because it's got a pocket for my phone, and another for business cards, and another for a notepad, and another for jelly beans, and . . . well, you get the idea. One of the pockets holds my iPod, which I own in order to prove how "hip" and "with it" and "now" I am. Groovy, man. That said, I do also use my iPod for listening to stuff, but I have this problem. Whenever I want to use it, I reach into my cool vest pocket and fish out the tangle of ear bud wires. And they're ALWAYS tangled. It doesn't matter how carefully I wrapped them them, or how long they've been in my pocket. They're always a freaking mess. Plus, once I get done untangling them, the buds ALWAYS end up situated with my left in my right hand and the right bud in my left hand.

Now, sure, this probably seems like a little thing. But, come on, shouldn't random chance provide me with the buds properly oriented about half the time, post tangle? Is that too much to ask? (Here is where I shake my fist dramatically at the heavens. And then a bird poops on me.)

In the big scheme of things, this is nothing. But this is the kind of thing I'll write down in my little notebook and, who knows, maybe in some future story some character will get so frustrated by his iPod Ear Bud Misalignment Syndrome that he wigs out and commits acts of dramatic, plot-advancing mayhem. Or maybe not. I have tons of these. Small details which may illuminate character. Sometimes they make it into a story, more often not. Still, they're one of the fun things about being a writer. In a way, they make me a kind of collector. Here are some other items from my collection of weirdnesses, pulled right from the notebook as is. (Not all of these are MY weirdnesses; use of the word "my" could be anyone. Really.)

  • The song "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult stuck in my head for over a month.

  • That cowlick . . . Never. Settles. Down.

  • Even my missing finger likes Starbucks.

  • Woman with wavy, dark hair, highlighted in red, wearing a black leather biker jacket, while capri pants, and carrying a purple parasol on a sunny day.

  • Green velour floor-length cloak, hood, leather clogs peeking out from underneath, in line at the hotdog stand.

  • Bald head as knobby as a blackberry. (The fruit, not the electronic device.)

So let's hear about weirdnesses from your collection. And I don't assume for a minute that only writers make note of such idiosyncratic elements of human minutiae. We've all seen 'em. Hell, we all have 'em! So let's have some fun.

(Oh, any by the way: yes, I actually can tell a fishing pole from a rifle. I ain't THAT daft.)


Nina Wright said...

Okay, I'll play.

From my recent notes:

“Your body is like a grapefruit."

As told by a friend--let's call her Viv because she's highly animated ALL THE TIME. While waiting in line for hours to buy tickets for a concert, Viv met someone who was a “sounded-like-cardio-something” therapist. “Here’s exactly what she did to everyone in line: Let me do it to you!” Viv proceeded to lightly touch me in four places on my shoulders and the back of my neck. “That’s it! And we were all invigorated! And free from pain. It’s why I was able to stand for four hours with no back pain or fatigue! And it’s why I feel fabulous today!” Since Viv’s demonstration did nothing for me, I asked what the woman was supposed to be manipulating. “I don’t know. She said the body is like a grapefruit—you know, with a rind on the outside and pulp inside. And she somehow—I don’t know how—gets through the rind and moves around the pulp. It’s really expensive. I think she said she gets $90 an hour, although most people have insurance." When I pointed out that “cardio” therapy would refer to the heart, Viv said, “Well, that’s not the word I want.” She later emailed me to say she’d found the right term for what the woman did: cranial-sacral therapy. Ahhh. The body is a grapefruit.

Mark Combes said...

"Goofy dude in some quilt patterned red and blue hand sewn vest is wresting his iPod and cursing slightly to himself."

Bill Cameron said...

My body is shaped like a grapefruit. Does that count? And, Mark, I'm pretty sure I've seen that guy too.

Jessica Lourey said...

Which finger is missing? Is it in the pocket tangling the ipod cords?

"Kid who stares at me across the lunch room and doesn't change expression or look away when I catch him."

He freaked me out. Today. I was volunteering at my kids' school.

The bird poop comment made me laugh out loud. That'll teach you to shake fists.

Bill Cameron said...

As it happens, the missing finger is not my own. That particular line is a quote from a book my Starbucks leaves out on the counter for people to write little messages into. One page had a tracing of a hand, middle finger missing, with those words written beneath. I have it on good authority that the finger really is missing, though I haven't actually seen for myself.

Kid staring would freak me out too. Sometimes kids can be pretty unnerving if they haven't yet internalized certain behaviors we take for granted.

Holly Y said...

I'm very relieved that you do know the difference between a fishing pole and a rifle!

Okay, here goes:
"He had a constant smile, but his eye sockets were dark, dark, as though perpetually bruised, and the hair at the end of his eyebrows grew upwards. Over his shadowed eyes this gave him a satanic appearance. His face was pocked but fleshy. Swarthy, broad, dressed in a nice black suit. Curly but well-trimmed hair. Probably a well to do Rroma."

I saw this man on a train platform in Bucaresti, Romania.

G.M. Malliet said...

Did you make the red-and-blue vest yourself? Maybe Terri Thayer could give you some tips.