Friday, November 20, 2009

Just keep writing

That's what they say. Write even when you don't think you have a thing to write about. Did one of my exercises this morning. The "grab a random sentence out of a book and go" exercise. The book I grabbed with my eyes closed was Hamlet's Dresser, a fine memoir by Bob Smith. Here's the unfiltered, stream-of-conscious thing that erupted:

November 20, 2009-----Bob Smith, Hamlet’s Dresser, p. 228

“What I couldn’t see when I first looked into Bert’s sour puss was his genius.”

Sylvie just plopped her fat butt in the mud puddle with a twacky thud. Goo sprayed in all directions, smattering me from my pink sneakers on my feet to the authentic Bowie Baysox cap on my head. Not knowing whether to laugh, cry, or scream bloody murder, I did a little of all three. Sylvie was out of control about everything she did. She ate entire boxes of Twinkies in a single sitting. She sang off-key country songs at the top of her lungs. She hugged people, sometimes complete strangers, with the force of a grizzly bear. But she loved life with the same intensity, a full-throttle love. Sylvie was probably in her late 20s, but her brain was stuck somewhere at about six-years-old. Some people in town said she was tetched, some just said she was a little slow, but most everyone simply loved her. Her mama had been gone for many years, died from the fever after Sylvie was born. Her daddy, old Bert Simkins, cared for her as best he could. Bert was old to be a first-time father, probably well into his sixties when Sylvie was born. Even though his wife was nearing forty when Sylvie was born, I suppose the last thing Bert ever imagined was that he would survive his wife and have to raise a child on his own. Bert was a hard-working man, ran a boat out of North Beach. Sylvie was a sickly baby and it made it hard to earn a living and care for her, but the ladies in town jumped in to help him, even though he never asked for help. I’d look at Bert’s grizzled old face, just trying to figure out what made him tick, wondering what he was thinking. I barely heard him say a dozen words in a dozen years. Never smiled, never complained, never talked, just pulled in crabs and tended to Sylvie. Bert was standing on the porch smoking a cigarette when Sylvie did the butt-first mud puddle flop. He just shook his head and chuckled, the corners of his mouth barely turned up, and mumbled, “The Lord sure must love that girl.” What I couldn’t see when I first looked into Bert’s sour puss was his genius.

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