If you’re in a bar long enough, minding your own boozness, some guy inevitably sits down next to you and asks what you do for a living.
If you say refrigerator repair, the guy says something like “I tried that once, but I’m appliance dyslectose. I get refrigerators confused with stoves. It’s a real problem at Thanksgiving when you have 28 starving relatives throwing cranberries at you and asking what’s taking so long.”
If you say you’re a seesaw inspector, the guy will say “I used to run one of those when I lived in Texas. But I quit when I almost cut off my C.” If you’re a firefighter he will tell you about the time his brother-in-law’s swimming pool burned down. If you say you’re a brain surgeon he will tell you about the bullet still lodged somewhere in the back of his head. “Wanna feel it?”
Showing any interest at all earns you a non-stop, rambling monologue. You have to wait for him to use the men’s room and then run for your life.
Bad enough, but if you tell him you’re a writer, his eyes will bulge and his mouth will fall open and he will say something like “Oh, dude. That is so ironical. Because…I’m writing a novel! A bestseller.”
He will suggest that you team up. You can split the profits and take turns going on the talk shows, although he has dibs on Jimmy Fallon. This is when you realize he isn’t writing a novel but thinking about writing a novel. And now he’s thinking you can write it for him. He supplies the plot, you supply the words.
If you weaken and ask “What’s your novel about?” you are doomed. This guy will become your best friend forever. He will call at three in the morning and ask if he woke you up. Won’t wait for the answer as he rants about a bizarro new plot twist. He will show up unannounced for dinner, weddings, pet counseling sessions. He will coincidentally bump into you in the airport in Lapland where you’ve gone to escape.
The best way to nip this guy in the buds? Tell him you only write obituaries. His could be next. Otherwise, you get conned into making a dollar out of these flat dimes:
• A guy picks up a hitchhiker escaped from a mental hospital. Locked up for saying he is Captain America. Tells driver “It’s a lie! Do I look like I have super human strength? I don’t even have a Vibranium shield!” The driver asks his real name. “Captain Kangaroo. Isn’t it obvious?” The driver says I thought you were dead. Answer: “I get that a lot.” They bond and the story develops as an offbeat buddy romp, ending with both trampled dead in the running of the Pamplona bulls.
• On flight to New York, a guy sits next to Yoda. Says I thought you were taller. “Smart you are not,” says Yoda. The Star Wars wizard is enroute to Broadway to read for part of King Lear. Is cast instead as a spear carrier and panned by critics. He tries to jump off the Empire State Building, but there is a line. Goes back to Hollywood, stars in remake of “Lassie Come Home.” Cast as Lassie. Brilliant performance. Oscar talk. But moguls shelve movie when focus groups don’t buy green collie.
• Title: Dart of Harkness. A bribed scorekeeper cheats a dart thrower named Harkness out of the world championship. Stunned, he spends life mumbling “The scorer! The scorer!”
• Idea: A guy is taking a bath when the pirate ship he had as a kid suddenly sails out of the suds. The entire crew is missing…
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2014, all rights reserved