"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Since I met my protagonist, Peri, I've been seeing the world through her eyes more and more. I hear pieces of conversations at the store and wonder if I've heard something sinister. An ambulance rushes by and I wonder if it's foul play. People buying large knives suddenly get my attention.

Of course, along with the curiosity comes the impatience. Peri speaks her mind in situations where I would be more tactful. If this part of her personality starts to manifest itself in me, I may have to invest in some duct tape.

For example, my son and I were at the Verizon store recently. We were upgrading his phone, and buying my hubby a Blackberry for our anniversary. It was about fifteen minutes before closing time; the store was inhabited by me and Marcus, and about seven employees – none of whom were waiting on us. One employee was running around, plugging display phones into chargers. Two more were at computer screens. The others were walking from Point A to Point B to Pointless.

Ten minutes later, we were still without help. I looked around the room, thought, what would Peri do, then opened my mouth to shout, "Who do I have to sleep with to buy a phone around here?" The assistant manager, perhaps sensing the Unhappy Customer alarm that was coming, walked over and introduced herself. We bought our phones and left, without incident, as they say.

Last night presented another opportunity for Peri to give me her opinion. Marcus is in his high school jazz band (Valencia High School in Placentia, CA, for the curious), and they had a concert last night. It was held on the patio in front of the music building and featured the middle school jazz band as well as the two VHS jazz bands, and a guest artist, Alex Iles. My hubby, Dale, and I paid $10 apiece for tickets to the event.

As you can imagine, there were lots of families at the event, to listen to their kids play. Dale and I sat with friends in the back, where we could stand up if we needed a better view. Behind us was a small grassy area with some tall planters.

Apparently, several parents thought it would be a good idea to let their kids play on the grass during the concert. This meant that, in addition to the music, I got to hear the squeals and shouting of children playing tag, catch, pirates, hide and seek, mortal combat, whatever. I sat, politely, while my inner Peri churned. If I had let her loose, she would have had a few words with everyone.

"Either corral those kids or I'm getting out the tranquilizer darts. Why did you even think they'd sit still and listen at a concert? Bring their damn Game Boys, or Home Boys, or whatever they are. Ever hear of a coloring book? Hire a babysitter, for Pete's sake."

I suppose if I ever lose control like that, I can always blame my writing. People will believe I'm doing research for a new book, and not just a curmudgeon, right?


Patricia Stoltey said...

I love that you had the guts to speak out loudly in a store to get attention. I've only recently become brave enough to do that, and man, it can feel so darned good!


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Funny! Way to go and thanks for the laugh!

Jane Kennedy Sutton

C. Margery Kempe said...

LOL -- yes, it's useful to blame your characters or research for the things you do. I love it!

Karen Brees said...

Amen! Time to ramp up your inner Peri and straighten out the world's wrongs!

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