I hate it when a writer starts to explain something and says “Unless you’ve been living on Mars and don’t know that the Boer War is over…” Or “Unless you’ve been living on Mars and don’t know that Vincent Black Lightning is not a reference to a guy named Vincent Black Lightning…” Or “Unless you’ve been living on Mars and don’t know that in the play Hamlet, everybody dies…”
Not everyone uses Mars. Some say moon, some say North Dakota, some say Gondor. The point is the same: You never know where people have been living or what people know, so don’t go presuming.
Because people who live on Jupiter, let’s say, may come to earth on Saturday mornings to do their food shopping. They buy tabloids at the checkout counter so they’re pretty well read. Imagine their consternation on reading “Unless you’ve been living on Jupiter, and don’t know that Justin Bieber is an idiot…”
Can’t you see them waving a National Enquirer at the poor grocery clerk and shouting “I live on Jupiter and everybody up there knows Bieber is an idiot.”
Look at it another way: there are plenty of people, maybe two dozen or more, who think the Boer War is still on. Heck, there’s at least five or six who didn’t even know there was a Boer war. The odds are high that most of those people live on Mars, the moon or the pyramid next door to what’s his mummy.
Not convinced? Imagine a guy who never read Hamlet because the dog ate his Norton’s Anthology. Let’s say he ends up in prison. That week at the Big House they’re showing “Hamlet” in the prison auditorium.
Let’s say that halfway through the movie a fight breaks out when some guy scribbles “Best wishes, Nebuchadnezzar” on the fly-leaf of another guy’s Bible.
Over angry shouts of “I know Nebuchadnezzar and you aint no Nebuchadnezzar,” the warden shuts down the movie. He tells everybody they can see the second half next week as long as they haven’t escaped, been paroled or stabbed to death over a swiped pudding in the chow line.
So, let’s say our guy sees Part I. But that week in the chow line he accidentally stabs someone several times with a sharpened shoelace. He is thrown into solitary and is going to miss Part II.
Then someone slips him a newspaper (let’s say they still have newspapers). He reads a story that you wrote that starts “Unless you’ve been living in a maximum security prison where you only got to see the first half of Hamlet because of a religious dispute, and you don’t know that Hamlet bites the big halibut at the end…”
That night a haunting cry of anguish and disbelief– “Hamlet dies?”— rises from solitary. A heartless guard is heard to yell “Where you been living? The Irish Riviera?”
When that guy is paroled or busts out of prison, guess whose house he’s going to show up at to deliver a very severe lecture about spoilers?
But do you spoilers ever get it? Let’s say you wrote “Unless you live in Bob’s house and don’t know that people take a shower every month or so…”
The next day Bob comes over and says “Look, I know people take showers. And I’ve been saving up for a hot water heater but I spend a ton of money on Camels and Bud Lights for my Mom. She’s in traction because she rolled her 1952 Vincent Black Lightning and hasn’t been able to get back to Mars. So get off my back.”
How would you feel? Methinks you’d feel pretty small mefriend. Unless you’ve been living in me man cave.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.