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    My daily writing--emails, journal entries, marginalia, more emails, blog posts, and tweets--shapes me as a writer, helping and hindering the big stuff I'm trying to accomplish. Every word counts.

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Family Scene with Dinner Music

We writers must observe carefully. We must prepare ourselves to take notes to capture moments. We must wear cargo shorts when possible so we have places to carry pen and paper.

This responsibility, this trouble, pays off sometimes. For example, while visiting family.

At a mid-priced chain restaurant, my parents and I enjoy our meals. My mother and I eat enormous salads. My father has one of those for-a-limited-time-only burger platters that are constantly available.

A midtempo pop song plays in the background. I hear the lyric sung by the feminine voice but assume my parents don’t notice.

Mom hears. Her eyes pop wide open.

“Did she say what I think she did?” Mom asks, her head slowly tilting up toward the speaker.

“Yes,” Dad says, in a tone of voice confirming there is no need for argument. He finishes spreading mustard on his hamburger bun and reaches for a fork.

Mom says the lyric aloud as if it is a question: “‘Lick the blood right off the street?'”

“No, Sandra.” Dad says. His fork hovers just above his cole slaw. “She said, ‘Lick the blood right off your street.'”

Mom looks at him. “Well? What does that mean?” Not that I know the answer, but I had expected she would look to me for the translation.

He shrugs to give himself time to finish chewing a mouthful of slaw. “I don’t know,” Dad says. “I’m just telling you what she said.”

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2 Responses

  1. hahaha…. I find this very David Sedaris-y (finally got the new book, by the way!)

  2. On Friday, when I was standing around waiting for Grace’s performance in /Annie Get Your Gun/, I thought suddenly of you, walking around DC with Doug’s family, writing in your notebook. (This is something you told me about, when you told me about that daytrip.) This made me take out my notepad, and write something down that had been… irking me. Here are some of those notes (odd punctuation included):

    “Tall man, dark hair with obvious toupee. So obvious I wonder if it’s ironic. The edges of it flutter over the short, trimmed hair on sides. It’s like a cap, or puppet hair. The tall man doesn’t otherwise look ironic, or that he could pull off irony: close-shaven white face; golf shirt: knit, shadow blue on dark blue strip. Khaki pants pleated tucked in, belt. Pants billowy and bulging — excess fabric around the pleats.”

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