I’ve been thinking about how we tend to put other people on pedestals to keep them from us, not as much as to hold them in high esteem. It’s much easier to think of other people as, well, “other” than to get to know them on a visceral level, because that takes work. It takes thinking well. I laugh sometimes about how we pick out people not like us and say, “her, I like” or ” I trust this guy with my tools” but the rest of them, well, they’re lazy, shiftless, criminals. Not. Like. Me. Now, this is so simple on the surface. It’s not simple, and yet it is. Let’s just cut through the bullshit. Our only common experience is that we are human beings. We are in this world together. So, let’s find a way to get along. Bottom line. We will hang together, or we shall surely hang separately. That being said, how do we do that? I don’t have any easy answers, but they are simple enough. Be kind. Help others. Volunteer. Do the hard thing and reach out. You don’t have to try to fix people. There are always going to be shitty people in the world. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush and don’t be shitty yourself.
This week has had more twists than a Dairy Queen soft cone made by some high school nerd with a penchant for culinary flair. Annoyances include two, count ’em, two back to back instances of crappy customer service. I mean, really. I’m not much to look at, but I don’t make dogs bark or small children cry and hide behind their mothers. To be crappy at customer service, one must be an active asshole, and by that, I mean, this must be one’s goal in life–to make others as miserable as possible without actually taking a crap in someone’s pocket and smashing it against their skin. That annoys me to no end and I won’t let them get away with it. I don’t say anything when it happens because after all, this is an open carry state. I write emails. I am very polite, of course. It’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. As I’ve gotten older and less apt to let things like that slide, my writing is more fun than ever. I enjoy crafting a witty little nastygram about Miss X treating me like I just kicked her dog and insulted her mama’s biscuits.
That being said, I am flummoxed by recalcitrant bureaucracy and the petty little autocrats intent on running their little fiefdoms as they see fit. Those people . . . I got nothing. Today, I received a letter dated March 6th, saying that my case was closed because my information was never received. How can this be? I sent it via certified mail, by fax, and called to follow up. But I received a call on March 9th from the office to let me know that I had until March 14th to submit any more paperwork. That call was actually informative and very positive. My temple started throbbing when I read the letter. Lord Baby Jesus in the cradle. Those people.
I was raised to not challenge authority, because, well, authority. My rebellion has always been directed inward. My liver hates me, my pancreas is no longer speaking, and my back took a hike years ago. My motto has been, ‘Screw you, I’m gonna hit myself in the head with this hammer and then, you’ll know something!’ Insert eye roll here. It’s not a motto to live by. Not going to go off on a tangent about this particular quirk. I’m almost sure it involves Southern Baptist guilt, and neurotic guilt like that is a tooth numbing dissertation. But it sure does make some purty poetry, so I will keep it around a while longer.
I watched the Daytona 500 yesterday. The race was pretty good. The graphics were ok. The commentary was hit and miss. The sexism was rampant. I guess the demographic for racing is young white males. That explains Gronkowski yucking it up with the monster girls. I guess they don’t want to piss off the good ole boys too much. I like the technical aspects of racing; the strategy, the teamwork, the precision of the crews in what is inherently a messy, sometimes fatal sport. F1 and Indycar don’t have the appeal in this country that NASCAR has, and even they are losing viewers and sponsors, a downward trend that shows little sign of reversal. The format has changed somewhat, and I did like that, for the most part. However, I want to see more diversity. A couple of WW announcers isn’t diversity.
The sound woke me. Cracks and booms echoed through my bedroom. I bolted upright, my heart pounding. I slowly became aware of another presence and that panicked me.
I turned on the light and noticed a body standing at the foot of my bed.
“Behold. Your creation.”
I rubbed my eyes. Damnit there was another person in my room. A naked, wet person. A naked, wet, unformed female person. I mean, she had a body with boobs, sort of, and the water dripping down her body was real enough. She shivered, her arms crossed in a V across her chest. Her legs ended at her torso, but she didn’t exactly look right, and her voice was flat. I shook my head. The hair was wrong, the . . . everything was wrong.
“You formed me.” Her voice was flat. Creation? Really?
I sat up and drained the last of my blue. Thus refreshed, I looked again. It was a female body. Everything wasn’t exactly there.
“I formed you? What do you mean?”
“You write. I appear.”
I laughed. No cowboys or rich guys had ever appeared in my bedroom. She wasn’t real, obviously.
“Nah, characters don’t just appear. You’re my imagination.” I lay back down and pulled up the covers. Thunder rumbled close by. I closed my eyes again.
“I’m your creation.” Again that flat voice. I sat up and looked fully at the creature. She sure as hell looked real. But what was wrong? I got up and went to my desk, giving her a wide berth.
I switched on the lamp and looked over my notes. OK, let’s see. The main character is a lesbian, yes, tall, yes. I looked back at the apparition. Tall. The notes didn’t say much more than that. I picked up my pen and wrote down: she is witty, acerbic, lightly muscular. I looked back at her. her body was smooth and looked strong.
“Ah, much better.” Her voice was still flat. I wrote. she sounds like Jodie Foster in bed.
“Do you really want to finish me out like that?” Her lip curled in an unholy sexy smile. I looked back at the outline and started working like crazy.
‘She is a lesbian.’ I put down my pen and leaned back. Time for a drink. The curtains waved with a vengeance. Smoky, moist, pluff mud breezes had been blowing all evening. From the street below, a tinkle of glass and laughter wafted up to the window. The outline was finished and that glass of Johnny blue wasn’t going to drink itself. I stretched and sipped and let the fire untwist my belly. Stress over a book wasn’t my forte. My forte was zipping through a couple of cowboy romances every few years, going on tours, signing books for housewives, doing the odd interview for a small town newspaper. It paid well. It was relatively easy to do the same formula. I loved my characters. They performed well on the written stage. This book was different and way out of my comfort zone, but dammit my agent was too persuasive.
“Lesbians are hot this year, Carol. Do your thing and your exposure will explode.”
“For God’s sake, Althea! I don’t know anything about lesbians!”
“Carol, just do some research, already. Surely you know someone you can ask for information. Your last book only sold fifty thousand copies. We need a new shtick and gay fiction is hot, although I don’t think you’d want to try your hand at gay men, would you? ”
I admitted this was not really something I wanted to get into on a book level. I enjoyed my cowboys and millionaires on the page, but maybe I could try my hand at gay boys. They liked cowboys and millionaires, too, right? Nah, not my thing. Maybe girls, then. Surely they liked cowgirls and millionaires. I’ll try my hand at it, find a new niche, come back to the romances I know. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find a new market. I don’t need the money. I need to write. That’s it.
The night sorted itself out into a fierce storm that blew in around midnight. Lowcountry storms were noisy and fierce and rarely so bad the sirens went off. Lower Broad got lots of visitors and few memories.