The subject line of today’s blog is food for thought. Right? Sometimes the things that come out of our mouths aren’t what we meant to say. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Sugar, my female yellow Lab, is having problems with her rear legs. She loves to swim and she needs the exercise. So the other day I let her swim. No problem. Uh, she couldn’t get out of the pool. I tried to bribe her with her favorite treat. It didn’t work. You have to understand that she’s a ninety pound dog, and I’m a… Well, we won’t go there. Let me say I’m not a big, muscular woman and I’m not in my twenties anymore, and I had to lift that dog out of the pool. The circumstances warranted my lifting her. I called my daughter later and told her that “the legs in my muscle” were as sore as could be. Now that didn’t come out right.
You’re wondering about Charley’s antics? When I was very young I was at work and had a box of sugar wafers on my desk. I was away from my desk for a few minutes and when I returned, they were gone. Charley had hidden them. Being a sweets freak, I looked everywhere for them. My boss was also away from his desk. He came back and found me searching everywhere. When he asked what I was doing, I replied, “Charley cooked my tookies.” He looked at me like I was nuts. Just to make things crazier, it turned out Charley had hidden them in a filing cabinet under “S” for sugar.
I’ve often talked about making characters real – and funny. Sometimes all it takes is a misspoken word or sentence. Once in a while a comment can further the story if it can be misconstrued. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “That’s not what I meant. Let me start over.” Unfortunately, there are moments when people won’t let you correct yourself.
When my daughter was three-years-old (her age now is another place we won’t go), we had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii. On the flight home, the stewardess (that’s what they used to be called) gave her a small blackboard and some chalk so she could draw a picture. Boredom on an airplane can be disastrous. The stewardess returned after a few minutes to see what my child had drawn. The drawing consisted of a few squiggly circles. The woman gave me a funny look and asked her, “Oh, did you draw a ghost? Have you seen one?”
Okay, my daughter could have replied that, yes, she’d drawn a ghost just like the one who was sitting in the seat across the aisle. That might make a good storyline in a book. In reality, she replied, “No. It’s spilt milk.” No mystery there, but you never know what a child is thinking. Sometimes they can make or break a scene or a story. By the way, “spilt” was her word, not mine.
I’m going to step back into the days of Charley again. We worked with a woman who was engaged and her military boyfriend was being sent overseas. She was a nervous wreck, to put it mildly. She was telling me about him when the phone on her desk rang. She answered her stapler instead of the phone and kept repeating, “Hello? Hello?” I had to take it from her and hand it to her while I answered her phone. It never dawned on her that the phone kept ringing after she’d “answered” it.
Maybe my stories aren’t all that funny to anyone except me, but you get the idea. Sometimes we need to lighten a particularly dramatic scene with humor. In real life, it’s one of the things that helps us through a difficult time. The woman who answered her stapler laughed and relaxed a bit while she waited to hear from her fiancé.
Have you ever put something like this in a book? Would you? Do you have a funny story about misspeaking or answering something other than a telephone? I’ve often said we need to look for the funny side of a tragic or dramatic situation. There isn’t always humor, but if there is, it can help. I have a friend who laughs long and loud when tragedy strikes. She’s not unfeeling, but laughter helps her through situations. It’s a nervous reaction, one I almost wish I had.
Until next time, think before you speak. Never mind. You might lose the humor if you think first.
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Looking for a little humor with your drama? Think about trying either The Sandi Webster Mysteries or The Bogey Man Mysteries.