Thursday, April 19, 2007

Toothpaste, time management, and trying something new

Junior was talking with Loudmouth at the counter as I approached to purchase my cigarettes. Loudmouth was telling Junior that hip-hop was dead, and that he should rely on Bon Jovi and Warrant to serve as the music for a gathering Junior seemed to be planning. Loudmouth beamed at me as he said this, delighted at his joke.

"I'm more of a Kiss fan," Junior said.

"What'd they ever do?" Loudmouth asked, before fake-headbanging and singing the chorus to "School's Out."

"That's Alice Cooper," I said, jabbing my finger upwards in what has become how I order cigarettes from Loudmouth, who is never not talking. I then held up six fingers and he pulled down six packs of cigarettes. If I wait for a chance to speak, I can be stuck there for hours.

"Alice Cooper," Junior said, somewhat wistfully. He entended his fist to me. I know from previous encounters that I am to extend my fist to come into contact with his. Awkward as this gesture may be, it is infinitely preferrable to the "high-five."

Junior listed some Kiss songs as Loudmouth rang me up. I offered "Beth," but was told that didn't count because it was a ballad.

"Man, I loved Kiss," Junior said. "I used to put toothpaste in my mouth and..." A customer cut him off with a question, leaving Loudmouth and I to speculate as to what exactly he used to do with toothpaste in his mouth.

"...and rinse," said Loudmouth, grinning.

"I certainly hope that's what he was going to say. I wonder if he still puts toothpaste in his mouth," I said.

Junior dispatched the questioning customer and resumed his tale, pantomiming brushing his teeth this time.

"I used to put toothpaste in my mouth and then go out into the other room and go 'ahhhhh.'" With the last word, he pantomimed playing a guitar, rolling his head and working his tongue around outside his mouth. The "ahhhhh" does not do the sound justice. I can find no combination of letters that would do the job.

"I couldn't, you know, use real blood," he explained.

"Take care, um, music fans," I called out as I made my exit.

*****

Craig came by to jump-start my car this evening. My recent vandals had left the dome light on, and I had failed to notice, depleting my battery. When I tried to start it yesterday, it made no attempt to roar to life, and I nervously popped the hood to see if someone had come by and stolen my battery.

We stood outside the vehicle as it idled, giving the battery a chance to charge. I glanced in through the window and noticed that it's really dirty in there right now. It looked cleaner before the stereo gang pulled extra trash from under the seats in what I imagine was the search for the stereo's faceplate.

"I really have to clean out my car," I said.

"Yeah," he said dryly. "But how will you find the time."

So already my lack of Dayworking has opened me up to all new areas of ridicule. Fantastic.

*****

I did something new today, Blogreader. I took something I had written and submitted it. In this case, it was an entry for the "Endless Hour" flash fiction contest over at Clarity of Night. Based on the picture at left, contestants are to compose an entry of no more than 250 words. Since I sponsor such a contest myself (May 1st, if your calendar remains unmarked) I thought it might be a good idea to give it a whirl.

I wrote my entry in something like 20 minutes, but then spent quite a long time whittling it down to the proper length, and trying to make the story cohesive and complete within the insane word limit. I wrote it yesterday, and was quite pleased with the result, but on rereading it today, I was far less enamored with it. I did one final combing of the text and then submitted it anyway. I'm not figuring on winning a prize, and the other people I let take a peek all seemed to like it. I thought if I held off, I might talk myself out of the whole thing.

The point is, though, that I have never before submitted fiction anywhere. So the Clarity of Night contest is pretty much my virgin attempt to enchant strangers with things I have made up. Without luring them to my blog and having them read it here, that is.

I encourage any of you who think it might be interesting or fun to have a try yourselves.

It's weird, but now that it's out there, I feel even less sure of it than I did before submitting it. I wrote the story that the picture conjured in my mind, but I cannot help but feel that I should have written something funny instead. I am far more self-conscious about my writing when it contains no attempts at humor.

I'll probably post my entry here within a day or two. For now, though, you can pop on over to Clarity of Night if you have an interest in reading it. I'm entry number three (unlike the GBA(s)FC, there's no condition of anonymity, so I'm allowed to tell you that, or to post the story here if I so choose).

Let me know if you have a crack at it yourself. I'm very curious what other people will come up with. The two entries already posted are both quite different from mine and from each other, so I'm hopeful that there will be a lot of different viewpoints represented.

12 comments:

kyklops said...

I used to pretend to hang myself while doing air guitar and vocals to Alice Cooper tunes. There's not much more I could say about this...

Susan Abraham said...

I'll check out your short story, Maht. btw, is hip-hop really dead? couldn't be surely?

Liz said...

They must have heard Nas saying that hip hop is dead. And I'm sorry about your car getting vandalized again...but at least it gives you something else to write about.

Verilion said...

I saw that you had entered the competition. I haven't read it yet. Last time I read them as they came in and when it came to the reader's choice I seem to have chosen all the ones I got a chance to read twice, whereas with your comp I read them all in one go (which was really difficult cos I really fucked up the printing, but that's another story) and I think I was more objective.

Right, hair cut. I could plan my story while I'm sitting there waiting for the dye to take, instead of reading all the gossip magazines!

strugglingwriter said...

I thought you did a good job, but I totally know how you feel. I have often felt great about something I have read, submitted it, and then read it the next day and thought it was crap. I have come to realize it is impossible for me to judge my own work.

Starrlight said...

Alice Cooper OWNS Kiss :P

The Moon Topples said...

Kyklops: Um.

Susan: It is wise not to heed Loudmouth too much. He is, after all, a Loudmouth.

Liz: I wasn't out of things to write about. Perhaps they can hold off next time until I'm blocked?

Veriturkey: Do let me know whether your story or the gossip magazines won out.

Struggles: Yeah. Although in my defense, I decided it might be crap just before I submitted it.

I like your take on the image, by the way. Very fun.

Starr: One of those leveraged buyouts?

liz fenwick said...

Congrats for submitting. It a huge hurdle. Pat your self on the back.

Now I'm off to go read it:-)

Sam said...

I really liked your entry, I can't believe it was the first time you ever submitted anything - it looks very polished, and it's very good.
I subbed something too called Fixer-Upper, but I don't know when it will be posted. At any rate, I really enjoyed yours.

The Moon Topples said...

Liz: Congratulations to you on completing your first draft. Much bigger deal than a 250 word submission, if you ask me.

Sam: I'm trying not to read the entries just yet. I'm waiting until closer to the deadline to read most of them in one go. But thanks so much for stopping by and for your incredibly nice comments. I look forward to reading your entry.

briliantdonkey said...

Still surfing back through your past posts. Wow, getting to this post kind of surprised me a couple of times. A)I LOVE(d) Kiss and still do like em a lot and B) Finding out that was your first submission ever. Made it that much more impressive. I felt much the same the first time I submitted(which just so happens to have been his other contest #3 I think). I think it is only natural to second guess yourself after it is too late cause I do it every single time. The only thing that seems to help is to get it done, put it away(and try not even THINK about it) for as long as possible before the deadline. THEN come back to read it with relatively fresh eyes. This is very hard to do in a short deadline but still works to some degree. Hope that made SOME sense.

BD

The Moon Topples said...

BD: My thinking was how easy it would be to keep revising or srarting anew, and miss the deadline completely. I figured it was better to send in an imperfect piece than none at all.