December 20, 2006

Literary Inspiration.

There are times when I wonder why I maintain this blog on an almost daily basis. Why do I sit down and write little snippets of our life, for all the world to read? After musing about this while watching folks walk about the mall today during a much needed holiday shopping respite, I came to a couple of conclusions. I write in my blog because I enjoy writing. And I hope that through my writing I can make the reader laugh, smile or at least not grimace.

There are times that I get a little whacky in here. It comes naturally as I consider myself to be eccentric. I don’t think I’m spooky, I don’t see myself as creepy, but I do see a lot of ‘odd’ with a dash of ‘weird’ on the side. I used to think I frightened people as I often savor a memory of the mundane and will bring up said musing in a conversation. I notice the irrelevant. I say the unexpected. I pride myself on these qualities.

Ask a published author what inspires their words and perhaps they’ll mention the works of Tolstoy or speed reading Wuthering Heights or 1984. Others may have become giddy with the thought of diagramming sentences back in elementary school. Me? I found my literary inspiration in one author back in junior high school. I couldn’t care less about Ernest Hemmingway and Shakespeare does nothing to blow up my skirt, but to this day I can read just about anything by the late Erma Bombeck and thoroughly enjoy the experience. I was a 12 year old boy and still I laughed out loud to passages from “The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank” and “If Life Is A Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing In The Pits?”. While I was way outside of the intended audience, even at that young age I loved Ms. Bombeck’s style of writing. I may not have related to everything she was saying (as I did not have a child that held his brother captive in the broom closet, for example), but I loved the way she wrote about slices of life, as she saw it from over her ironing board or through her bay window that looked over identical houses in the housing development. She didn’t try to shock the reader, she didn’t resort to blue words, she didn’t harp on the negative. She just made the reader laugh or at the very least smile and more importantly, she made the reader comfortable.

That’s what I try to do. And I’d like to thank you for taking this little blogging journey with me. I look forward to what lies ahead.

Lunch By Telstar.

I’ve taken the day off from work for two reasons: I need to burn my vacation time before the end of the year and I really need to finish up the Christmas shopping. I might even have the gifts wrapped before Earl gets home. To celebrate the day off, I am currently installed in a corner of our local Panera. I am armed with my PowerBook and eating as healthy as one can in one of these “appears classy – really fast food” restaurants.

My observations of others during this holiday season continues. I know I go on and on about cell phone use in public, but I find it so utterly fascinating. I just watched a woman walk across this very busy restaurant, armed with her cell phone but balancing two trays of food better than any waitress named Betty that I’ve encountered. She arrived safely at her table, where I noticed that she is joining her lunch companion. My immediate thought was that he should have got up and fetched the food, but of course he is on his cell phone as well. I suspect he called her and said, “Don’t forget the salt and pepper.”

A woman just arrived in a beat up Ford pickup from the late 1980s. The truck is in final stages of rigor mortis, the driver appears to have not washed her hair in several days (unless greasy is ‘in’). I try to not to be judgmental, but the woman undoubtedly reeks of b.o. and white trash. She’s yapping on what appears to be what all the rage in cellular technology – a Motorola Razr cell phone. Apparently the soap can wait, but the phone call can’t.

You may say that I am not one to talk, since I’m typing away on my PowerBook while eating my lunch. I see this a little differently. I am alone at my table. I am stationed in the corner at a remote table in the restaurant. I’m not carrying my PowerBook around, I’m not doing extracurricular activities on a webcam nor am I yelling through the microphone over some voice chat program. I’m simply observing the behavior of others during this holiday season.

The acoustics in this corner allow me to eavesdrop on quite a few conversations. I always giggle at the guys in this area that talk with a very heavy Bronx or Brooklyn accent. I don’t know if they’ve noticed but we live over four hours from the two aforementioned burroughs. Most of us speak with an accent you’re more likely to find in Michigan or Ohio. But it’s like there’s a small dollop of marinara sauce on the spot that marks our place on the map.

And lastly, an older couple is sitting at the table directly in front of me. They have obsessed and strategized over how they are going to fetch their food when the pager goes off. Which way will they walk through the maze of tables and dining bodies? Will they have to pole vault over the guy talking about cigars? Will they have to do laps around the woman with a feather hat? Oh no, the light is flashing! The pager is vibrating! Time to spring into action. Apparently, the best plan is a simple one, walk to the counter and look over everyone’s food.

I find human beings so fascinating.