Sunday, March 6, 2011

Title Anxiety

You writers out there will know what I'm talking about: You come up with a really, really good title for something. You sound out the words in your head over and over, realizing in your delusion that with every utterance the title becomes just that much more cool and appealing.

So you sit down, start to write, and then, it happens:

Good title comes. Followed by crap.

Here's my crap confession of the week. What follows came after I came up with the title "Metaphor Man," Yes, that's my really, really cool title. So what if you don't think it's cool; I thought it was IMMENSELY cool when I thought it up. The execution, however, isn't working all that well. Any time an obviously contrived character name like Mr. Dillwhipple comes up, you know the rest of the writing is going to be craptacular. Behold:

Sheldon put Abagail to sleep. He was an absolute bore to speak to on the phone. Speaking came quickly to Abagail, but to get words out of Sheldon was like trying to pry her nephew's hands out of the cookie jar. She swore he was reading the newspaper during their phone calls, because between odd shuffling sounds, all she got out of him were affirmative and negative grunts (which correctly corresponded to the conversation only 75% of the time.) He always said the same things:


"Hi, Sheldon, this is Abagail! How are you doing, milkshake?"


"Fine? That's all? How did your presentation go with Mr. Dillwhipple? I know you worked on that report for more than a month. I'm sure you did a good job. Tell me all about it."

There's not much to tell.

"Of course there is, silly! What did he think?"

Oh, he liked it.

"A little? A lot? A fat raise? New car? What?!"

He said, 'Good job, Addams.'

"He did not!"

Yes, he did.

"And that's all?"

No, but you're not interested in hearing all that boring office blather.

"I'm not?"

Good. That's settled. What did you call me about?



"Oh.. . .I thought maybe you'd like to go to Charlie's tonight, and then walk around the river and feed the ducks. I heard on the radio that the pollen count is really low today."

Charlie's? I don't know.

"What else is new, dumpling. Anyway, come and get me around six o'clock?"

For what?

"I just told you, Sheldon! Dinner and a walk."

I don't know, Abagail. I've got a presentation to get ready for Mr. Dillwhipple.

"Again? You just finished one."

I did? Oh, yeah. Yeah. Another one. I'll call you later.

Oddly enough, Sheldon's Yugo burbled into Abagail's driveway spot on six. Ever the optimist, Abagail was ready. "Oh Sheldon! I love your tie!" Abagail exclaimed as she ran down the drive. Sheldon nodded, then leaned over and unlocked the passenger door. The handle didn't stick as much as usual, so the two lovebirds were off in a matter of minutes. "Really, Sheldon. I love that tie. Is it new?"

"How could you see my tie from so far away?" Sheldon asked as he glanced over his shoulder as he backed the car back up on the road.

"Oh, Sheldon, don't nitpick, sweetie," Abagail purred. "You've got to admit it's one of the brightest ties you've ever bought."

"You bought it for me, Abagail," Sheldon said, eyes front, finger nervously poised on the turn signal lever. "I figured now is as good a time as any to wear it. For the first time." His left hand spasmed, flicking the turn signal on. He quickly shut the signal off, casting furtive glances at the rear view mirror.

"First time? I thought you said you'd wear it for your presentation," Abagail said.

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