Sick, Twisted ~ and Happy

17 Apr

I’m sitting in an airport, conference-bound, waiting for my flight to Austin. Flying Southwest is usually not my first choice, but I need to revise that protocol.

I. Love. This. Airline.

Oh, not because of the convenience, cost, or comfort (ok, maybe the comfort, JUST kidding) . . . I love the people who sit all around me in the Boise airport.

And those who will soon stand with me in line to board after having hunched over their computer 24 hours previously to hit the button at the first possible moment for check-in to snag an A group boarding pass <whew, need to catch my breath – sorry, but the sentence and sentiment begged to run on>.

I forgot and am in B this time. And I might forget more often. The potential for bloodshed is even higher in the B group.

A lady, bless her heart, (I am headed to Texas, after all) asked me for my ‘number’ (and it was clearly not cuz she was liking the goods). Nope. I was B45 and she was B41. Thus, she informed me, ‘B45 should stand behind B41, B42, B43 and B44′ (and yes, she counted ’em down). I didn’t tell her she was in the wrong section and should be moving up to the little piece of carpet I held in triumphant concert with B42, 43 and 44 (all of whom WERE standing in front of me ~ I was in elementary school too after all). I simply apologized profusely for my ‘error’ (and snickered at the eye-rolling going on behind her back – one SHOULD celebrate his or her inner adolescent now and then).

I will also love the people who sit with me at the next place I make a connection . . . and those who will board when the massive plane lands to take on more cattle – er – passengers.

You see, I finally embraced my sick and twisted psyche and began writing again a few years ago. Sometimes, other writers reference the need to write as a means to capture the ‘voices in their head’.

Not me, baby.

It’s worse.

I have plots in my head – conspiracies sprinkled with sex and social justice – featuring cretins who eventually, and reluctantly, find justice at the hands of a caustic, geeky, semi-plump blonde chick with corkscrew curls (and yes, I am familiar with the signifiers of narcissistic personality disorder, but fall short of the necessary number for a clear diagnosis, heh heh heh).  The characters anchoring these plots are inspired by the faces, events, and geography surrounding me.

And food . . . food inspires – not just for sustenance and sugar, but in terms of what it says about the individual preparing to consume it. Next time you’re in a restaurant – ESPECIALLY in an airport food court — look around.

Watch the man who studies his cutlery while the woman across the cheap formica-covered table jabbers away.

Watch him stroke his fork, first with his thumb, then his index finger.

Watch him adjust the spoon with the tip of his calloused finger, tap thoughtfully on the pitted handle of the butter knife with that same, single, blunt-tipped finger. He flicks his eyes up. Not, as you might predict, to her breasts. Not even to her face. No, he zooms into the pulse at the base of her neck.

Now, I ask you, what on earth might he be thinking?

Thank you Southwest Airlines.

Thank you crappy economy forcing more people to cram tightly into airplanes for cross-country travel.

Thank you pen, paper, and keyboard for allowing vent to the sick and twisted plots I happily capture in story.

It’s amazing to find, in the most horrendous of circumstances, the opportunity to, perhaps someday, tell a story that will distract a traveler sitting in an airport waiting for a plane. Where, unexpectedly, do you find a writer’s joy?

PS: A nonadult recently explained to me that I wasn’t using complete sentences and had split infinitives. I take enormous comfort in knowing our next generation treasures good grammar. Thank you, and, as promised, this disclaimer is for you. While I ride my students’ asses without remorse for the slightest technical infraction in their writing, ‘do as I say not as I do’ works as well in fiction as it does in parenting. 😉


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22 responses to “Sick, Twisted ~ and Happy

  1. Janis McCurry

    April 17, 2012 at 7:12 AM

    Liz, your description of the Southwest cattle call chute was spot on. I love the people who, even knowing their number, start lining up 20 minutes early. They are so anxious to go to the meat-packing plant, the staff doesn’t even need cattle prods. Thanks for the laugh.

  2. Liz Fredericks

    April 17, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    It’s really kind of Orwellian . . . well now . . . cattle prods . . . you’re adding a whole new layer. Thank YOU for the new plot line. 😉

  3. marsharwest

    April 17, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    This really is funny, Liz. I’ve only flow SW a couple of times, because DFW is closer, but yes the number taking is rampant everywhere. Might I even suggest you can see that mentality in the grocery store express check out line? I confess, I’m one of those counters. If 15 items is max, don’t get in the line when you’ve done the week’s shopping! (Actually, I’m better about this whole thing than I used to be. Age does have a mellowing effect.) Being a rule follower can make one feel far superior to those “others.” The speeders–I mean 10-15 miles over the limit? Give me a break. And how about those folks who run red lights?
    Okay, so maybe I’m not as mellow as I thought–my heart rate has kicked up, and if I don’t stop now, a real rant is about to burst fourth. Thanks for tying this concept to our characters–I clearly need to add in this dimension. 🙂

    • Liz Fredericks

      April 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      Oh my goodness, Marsha!! You’re absolutely right about the shopping (15 item) line – I spaced that but am exactly the same way. I haven’t seen the age having a mellowing effect for me – my teenager claims I’m crankier every day. And . . . anytime you want to rant, just plug it into a comment!

      • marsharwest

        April 17, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        Thanks, Liz. I may take you up on the offer. And hey, you have a teenager? Of course, you’ll be a smidge cranky. But don’t you think you’ve mellowed since the kid(s) got out of middle school, when many of them hate their parents and flip flop back and forth between being “normal” and “nuts” within mere seconds? Love y’alls blog. 🙂

  4. stephanieberget

    April 17, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    Liz, this is so funny and so true. I’m a nervous wreck when flying and wouldn’t remember these characters even if I could concentrate. Instead of reading the same sentence over and over while I wait, I’ll try looking for people to populate my next WIP.

    • Liz Fredericks

      April 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      I’m pretty nervous flying too and suspect that’s why I started taking notes – so I can accurately describe any criminal activity LOL. I didn’t even mention the security screening and patdowns. For whatever reason, I must look VERY suspicious cuz I get the personal treatment. Every. Damn. Time.

  5. ValRoberts

    April 17, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    My favorite place for unexpected writer joy is Walmart, after 9 p.m. You know, after the normal (well, relatively normal) people have gone home and left it to those who are more…eccentric in their dress, demeanor, and shopping needs.

    Since I’ve gone there in sweats and slippers to get cold medicine at 3 a.m. (and only god knows how bad my hair looked or how bloodshot my eyes were), I know I’ve contributed to the general weirdness.

    • Liz Fredericks

      April 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      Oh Val – thank you. It didn’t even occur to me (since I’m usually in bed by then), but you’re absolutely right. I’m also thinking Friday night at the mall might be a good spot. I recommend the Jerome County Fair and Rodeo as well.

      • stephanieberget

        April 17, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        LOL, the Jerome County Fair & Rodeo. The New Plymouth Fair & Rodeo too, on Saturday night.

  6. ramblingsfromtheleft

    April 17, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Liz, it’s grand to know that you are a twisted-soul-sister 🙂 How comforting to live in a world where I am no longer “abnormal” or as I told an advisor once … how can you think of yourself as normal in an abnormal world? Actually abnormal behavior is normal and all those buttoned-down-brains are the real neurotics. Ah yes, the luncheon counter … the old lady who grins to herself, mumbles dialogue to an invisible companion, the NYC subway system is a gold mine … those two blocking the supermarket aisle … “Alright Ethel, get the brisket.” I can’t imagine a place where there are no hidden treasures. Characters are like gems and I have been collecting them since childhood. When it gets too crowded up there … I let them loose on the world.

    And yes, passive verbs, incomplete sentences and all the rest can happily be ignored or molded to fit our dialogue … Poor grammar babies … can you imagine a gramatically correct conversation? Okay, that’s enough. Go torture your students and gather some more inspiration 🙂

    • Liz Fredericks

      April 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      You made me snort coffee with ‘get the brisket’!! I had a conversation this past weekend with my buddy, Mer, and we decided that normal is vastly over-rated and when we both embraced our muse, then the universe clicked into place. I really can’t wait to read your work.

  7. Meredith Allen Conner

    April 17, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Please, please, please add the nameless man caressing his cutlery and eyeing the oblivious woman’s jugular in your WIP. I love those people! They are my favorite inspirations!!!! Awesome blog Liz!

    • Liz Fredericks

      April 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Thank you, ma’m! And might I just say I can’t wait until your blog pops up tomorrow. All of our friends who aren’t sittin’ in Idaho right now are going to snort coffee.

  8. maryvine

    April 17, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    I’ve been known to stare at a handsome business man or two while waiting. I guess that is what is interesting to me. Or, I listen to how people talk and navie said to my husband, “That person is not saying their /R/s right.” And he’ll pat my leg and say, “Mary, you’re not working right now.”
    Thanks for the fun blog post!

    • Liz Fredericks

      April 17, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      Mary, looking over a handsome man is entirely legitimate research – after all, we need to describe in such a way as to draw someone into the story. Since you’ve published multiple times I’m guessing you’ve been able to translate all of that observational research well!! 😉

  9. johannaharness

    April 17, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    I love this–although I’m now feeling slightly claustrophobic. Air! I need air!

  10. Peggy Staggs

    April 17, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    I love people watching.

  11. Patsy

    April 18, 2012 at 7:12 AM

    I always fly Southwest if I can! I personally love it. My horror story. We were waiting in line to board. Airport security showed up with their little table. I ran to the bathroom. When I got back, I started giving my husband a bad time, telling him they were going to frisk him, etc. They started down the line and the first person they chose was me! I had to go to their little rolling table and stand there while they did all these searches. (Guess running to the bathroom was a bad idea.) Anyway, after they were done, I thanked them, told them it was the most fun I’d had in a long time. 🙂 Not really a Southwest story but mine all the same.

  12. Liz Fredericks

    April 19, 2012 at 6:24 AM

    This is a great story, Patsy! Did your husband laugh?

  13. Clarissa Southwick

    April 24, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    Great images, Liz. Thanks for reminding us to slow down and people watch. It makes for great writing–split infinitives and all.


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