Women in a Windowed Box

Last evening I did two things worth noting here. Earlier, before the sun had set, I took my daughter to gymnastics. Much later when it was dark and cold but not nearly as windy I sat on the front porch tapping out yesterday’s 1000 Day entry on my phone.

Knowing I’d already missed my normal morning writing window, I carried along my writing notebook thinking I might find some inspiration in the parent-stuffed sitting room. I did, but I denied it. My notebook sat open in my lap for several minutes; the pen dangled above the page like the feet of the recently hanged hover over snow. I wasn’t shamed into tucking the pad away under my metal folding chair and reading my book instead. I was daunted and scared.

My plan had been to do some character sketches of the folks in the room. I rarely find myself in public spaces crowded with people and able to write at the same time. I should have drooling for this chance, but it caught me off guard how real and diverse the women there were.

Mary Ann sat to my right. The white running shoes she wore were trimmed with pink. They had been bought specifically to go on walks in the evening, but Mary Ann’s rubenesque build told the truer story: she wasn’t unhappy with how she looked. Sure she needed to be healthier, but being a wife and a mother held primary sway over her schedule and at the end of the day there just wasn’t time for her own things. No matter how much she swiped at her phone she wasn’t truly torn away from trying to locate her kids int he crowded gym.

Nancy Cutter buried herself in the corner past Mary Ann. Her black hair reflected the blue-tinged flourescence of our viewing box which contrasted her black knit sweater which absorbed that same light. Her skinny jeans ended in a pair of cowboy boots—not her for-the-farm pair, but the house-and-church ones. But she was in town with her daughter Casey, so she pushed her sunglasses back over her head like a headband. Her husband, Ben, joined her later. He wore an improbable pair of boots that had laces, a zipper, and a buckle around the back yet managed to seem genuinely Western. His hair was cut like he golfed and hit Nancy in his spare time—only twice and he promised never to again.

Ben crowded the blonde hole behind him. Whoever she was had turned up late, immediately spun the walled chair around, and put on her best 1000-yard stare to drill past the tweens on the uneven parallel bars and to her son on the vault for 45 minutes.

Which brings us to the lesbians. I don’t know how lesbians are in your town, maybe they’re always French-kissing and holding hands walking down the lane like it’s all OK, but here in Oklahoma ours are polite. They marry men who don’t know, but would be irreligeously turned on if they did. In public they act like real close friends, but when two women sit face-to-face and side-by-side in two folding chairs for an hour, when their hands brush each other’s thighs over and over, when their hair is pixie-cut and bed-headed like that woman from Top Gun, a fella just knows. And whats up with sandle boots with cuffs?

I’m running out of time so I’ll summarize the last two women: unapologetically loud and psychologically youthful grandma and her I-played-softball-in-college daughter. Both with long hair in a generally short-haired room.

Oh, and I plotted Charming a little later that night.

605 words on day 730

Why Charming Venda Hates Me

As I was making breakfast and logging on this morning I was thinking I’d come back to the Green Man story I’d started last night. Now I’m not so sure.

Last night I thought some on the fact that I’ve not been able to pin down much of Charming Venda’s character or characteristics. During that thinking I dawned on me that Charming didn’t—wouldn’t if she were real—like me very much. I’m not yet sure what that means in terms of her characterization, but it gave me both a direction to pursue and a pause to pursuing it.

I don’t mean that she won’t like me much as an author after I’m done with her story, that she won’t be pleased with my slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I mean that if she were a person she wouldn’t like me as a person. She’d be respectful and tolerant, but she wouldn’t seek out my company. She’d understand that others might befriend me, that others could love me, but she would never feel that way. Now I’ve got to figure out why she wouldn’t like me, and I’ve got to figure out who to put that into a character I would like.

A little crazy; never thought of a character in this way.

First, she’s the type of person who does what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it or when they know others expect it done. She won’t appreciate my tolerance for excuses not to get things done or not to get them done in a timely manner. That would be her surface complaint.

Second, she’ll find my cussing inappropriate and excessive. She’s OK with cursing, though she doesn’t do it herself, but she’ll find my rationale for using impolite language suspect and nearly always flimsy.

My kind of anger won’t be her kind of anger. She will be righteously angry at injustice and mistreatment. She won’t understand anger which is nothing more than concentrated and vehement annoyance elevated beyond reason. Outbursts will not be her style; she’ll internalize anger and then affect changes outwardly. She’ll use her anger to fuel solutions.

OK, Doc. That’s all the shrinking I can handle for the day.

367 words on day 709