My brother recently gave me a book entitled “642 Things To Write About.” As he handed it to me he commented, “Here’s how to make a success of your writing. Just write about writing.” Simple! That made me think of all the “How To For Dummies” books out there, and the endless supply of advice about beating the stock market and other Get-Rich-Quick schemes. “How To Become A Millionaire Overnight,” now that’s always a winner. Advice is so easy to hand out but somehow so hard to put to use.
Scanning my gift book, I’m soon bursting with new ideas, not 642 of them, but I do find lots of suggestions. Some are challenging, some frivolous and some impossible. A lot of them leave me wondering “Why?” or “How?”
Opening my new book to the very first challenge on the very first page I read “What can happen in a second?” Well, that’s easy, “Almost Anything,” I answer. Peeking ahead to the last challenge on the last page, my eyes pop as I read “Write your obituary.” Now that one will take a little thought. In between, I scan page after page, amazed at the myriad possibilities.
Here’s a good one, “An argument at a Sunday dinner.” My response, “I’m not carving today. Since Uncle Fred cut off both thumbs over the Thanksgiving turkey, someone else has to, not me. I just paid $50 for a manicure. That’s $5 a nail and I can’t afford to lose one.”
Next comes “You’re in the interviewing stage of the Miss America contest. Besides your desire for world peace, what will you tell the judge?” I answer, “My curves may have shifted a little over the years but they’re still there, plus a few more. And grey is a color, if you’re wondering about my hair. Don’t be an ageist.”
Suggestion – “A perfect meal.” My reply, “Any that ends with a chocolate frosted brownie.”
This is fun. I rush on:
“Two guys walk into a bar.” I scoff at this one: “Oh, Please! Not those same two guys again. They’ve been walking into that bar through at least 50 old jokes. They never do get far enough inside to get a decent drink. Give ‘em a break.”
“What you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole. Why?” I wrote, “My toes. I’m too short.”
“The corpse you saw in the undertaker’s window.” “It winked at me. When I winked back it sat up and whistled. I should have stayed home and handed out Halloween candy but I wanted to see the decorations around town.”
Another suggestion, “You forgot to pay your credit card bill.” I come up with the following explanation: “Well, it was like this, I was headed for my desk, checkbook in hand, when the phone and the doorbell rang at the same time. I answered the phone as I headed for the door. It was my bank. A very nasty voice began ranting at me about my overdrawn checking account. I tried to explain but they wouldn’t listen so I slammed the phone shut. Sheesh, no sense of humor at all. Meanwhile the doorbell kept ringing and in my rush to open it I tripped and fell, spraining both ankles and my right wrist. I dragged myself to the door, managed to open it with my left hand and looked up from the floor into the really angry face of a process server who jammed a sheaf of papers into my good hand and stomped off.
In my pain I had to call out to my neighbor for help as my family has deserted me and my friends no longer come around. He called an ambulance and he’s texting this message to you for me, dear, sweet, friendly credit card people. Just as soon as I can swing a loan I’ll settle with the bank, the utilities, and a few other little obligations, then I promise I’ll pay your bill. Meanwhile just ignore the $380 I spent this morning at the BonTon Boutique, I’ll get to that later.”
Hey, I’m getting to like these writing ideas. I’m quite proud of that last excuse. Let’s go for another idea. O.K, how’s this? “Write an X-rated Disney scenario.” I write, “Mickey and Porky Tell All! Reveal details of their secret lives and show their private photo collections!”
Next one, “Summarize your dog’s life in less than 4 paragraphs.” Do they mean my precious widdow FluffyBelle’s life? I could never do that in 4 paragraphs. Or do they mean the dog’s life I led for 5 years before I finally threw my deadbeat 3d husband out? Or was it the 4th?
Here’s a fun one, “Write a poem about a tomato.” I can do better than that, I’ll write a song, to the tune of The Girl From Ipanema. “Short and round and soft and squishy, The red tomato goes rolling by. And when it rolls, each one who sees it goes A-A-H.”
“Write about your worries 5 years from now, 10 years, 30 years.” Are they kidding? I’m in my nineties, I’m worried about the next 5 minutes! 5 years from now I’ll be just a memory, 10 years and I’ll be a distant memory, and in 30 years they’ll be doing rubbings off my gravestone trying to decipher the dates.”
“Toto, if we’re not in Kansas anymore where are we?” “Another darned tornado messed up my GPS.”
“Those men your mother always warned you about.” “I married one. Mother was right.”
“Write a story using 4 L words: Lipstick, Lust, Loss and Locked.” “My Lust for that Lipstick would create a huge Loss in my disposable income, so I Locked my wallet away, licked my lips and lost my Lust.”
“The biggest lie anyone ever told you.” “Of course I’ll marry you, just as soon as I get back from my honeymoon.”
And on we go: “Write the lyrics for a catchy jingle for a plumbing service.” “Plunge in and Flush Away, Flush Away, Flush Away All.”
“You’re a Nigerian e-mail scammer. Write an e-mail that will convince the recipient to send you $200.” I write “Please help me. I’m an American stranded in Nigeria, being held for ransom. They’re asking for 2 million dollars but will settle for $200 if you hurry. p.s. Don’t use bitcoins.”
And last but not least: “Describe your grandfather’s girlfriend.” “What! Ick! Gross! Never!! He’s ancient, at least 70! What’s this? You saw him with a curvaceous blonde bimbo in stilettos? What on earth would he do with somebody like that? And what would she want with a dried up old man like him? Of course, he is a millionaire.”
Well, there you have it, a few samples of things to write about. Only 600 and some to go and I can publish my book. I’ll call it “Writing For Dummies.” Then I can sit back and wait for my success.
I wonder just how many copies of “642 Things To Write” actually sold.
Oh, yes, I really did write my own obituary a while back. I didn’t come out of it too well. It was terribly hot down there and all my papers burned.