Light Poles and Goldfish

One minute you have this idea for a writing project which makes you see sparkles that glow in twenty five different shades. You start writing and enjoying the essence of your characters’ voices in your head. They’re yelling at each other and proving their point, but you giggle. Sweet rival. You form this bond and connection with them that makes bacon seem like yesterday’s bid deal. And then…you hit a pole (figuratively) and it crashes to the ground. You’re left with…what do I do now? My precious project is not going the way I want it to.

I have a blooper of a story for you. I mean, I do happen to know who this story belongs to and how it really happened because…it’s my story. We all hear we need to own our stories and share them with pride. Vulnerability is key. And humor…well, it’s needed and necessary for the masses.

 

light-poles

In high school, I had a boyfriend who really in my mind was the best version of what a boyfriend should be. Baggy pants that sagged so low his underwear peeked out. A little intrigue?

Check.

He wore a black hoodie, red shoes, headphones, and a smile that did all kinds of things to me—we’ll leave it at that—and he was skater. The stud muffin informed me early on that rollerblading and skateboarding were absolutely not the same thing. I nodded in an agreement to never mention that again. Oops!

The point is, I saw him as a fearless, active, and somewhat rebellious guy.

Another check.

The boy could sing and to add to that, he played guitar! Double check. I could truly go on forever about his sideburns. I loved those sideburns—Hugh Jackman move over—or…his amazing hugs. But, I think what really did it for me was his desire to talk. He would just chat all day and I could never get a word in edgewise. Now, that part is really fiction. What I meant to say is that I talked all day and he never interrupted me…too much. I’m so glad I figured out that his sarcasm wasn’t him being mean to me. Giant pet goldfish had homes with all my tears for a while there.

We’d been dating for two years, and Valentine’s Day happened to be right around the corner. I prayed that my home economics class had indeed taught this amateur how to make a gourmet meal for her sweetheart. All the ingredients seemed easy enough except for the thyme. Who uses that? Not I. Pepper and some sugar would make a nice replacement.

Putting the food into my car, I placed the cheesy potatoes and rolls on the ground, and the honey baked ham sat on the passenger seat. I applied some lipstick and headed toward his house.

We lived close.

Very convenient.

I couldn’t wait to see him and to have a romantic night with a yummy meal, candlelight dinner, cuddling, and talking into the long hours of the evening. Sounds like a Hallmark movie, but that’s what I pictured and the butterflies in my stomach agreed to this plan.

I got into the left hand lane and signaled my blinker to turn. The potatoes began to fall over the pan.

My savory meal.

Saving it, had to happen. Glancing down for half of a second while still turning the car, posed to be much trickier than I had imagined. I never said I was thinking clearly, just that my priorities may have been backwards. One hand stretching toward the pan on the ground, and one turning the wheel, I became the Gumby with short limbs that didn’t stretch, and a big OE sticker on my forehead. The crashing sound should’ve been my cue to let go of the potato pan, but instead I slowly brought the overflowing mess into my lap as to a cuddle a small puppy, and stared. A community light stand had just crashed in the street in front of me.

I gritted my teeth, waiting for it to replace itself and stand tall again.

Nope.

I did that. How fast had I been going? Putting my car in park, I glanced at my windshield that now contained ham, suction cupping itself on the window. The juice trickled from each slice, as to play connect the dot. Yelling seemed appropriate.

My beautiful ham.

A few curse words.

Cheesy deliciousness.

A few more curse words.

A pole in the street and some flashing red lights headed my way.

NO! NO! NO!

Pulling out my phone, I called my boyfriend and told him I’d been an accident. He didn’t know that I caused it all, but I needed support through this moment of embarrassment. That’s all he had to know, right?

I really don’t remember much of the conversation I had with the policeman other than, “No Officer, I haven’t been drinking. I was trying to save my potatoes.” He smirked and turned away, long enough for me to see my boyfriend coming toward me.

Beautiful glory.

My knight saving me from the pole that wasn’t planted in the ground well. He’d appreciate my Picasso food art, while saying, “I’ve been waiting all day to see you.” I’m sure he meant to say that, but instead he glanced at the cop, and they both started laughing. What? I see it now, it’s funny. I would probably laugh if it hadn’t been me, but instead I cried. Yes, more goldfish need a place to live.

I got a ticket and used the windshield wipers to get rid of the ham, except for the part where they were stuck on the inside window. So, that didn’t really work. At least the outside looked nice and my front bummer held a new scar of the day I tried to be romantic—memories.

We got to his house and tried to salvage some of the potatoes. More laughter. I joined in this time because we still had cheesy potatoes. Life was okay with cheese. I warmed it up, brought it out of the oven and took a bite.

Yuck.

Sweet. Too sweet. Disgustingly sweet.

I held my face together as much as possible. Chew and swallow. This is not happening. My precious potatoes that I saved from the depths of the car floor, and the things that crashed me into a pole, were terrible.

The cornflakes weren’t cornflakes.

I gasped.

Frosted flakes coated the top of the pan. I scrapped everything off as fast as I could and tried hard not to save another goldfish. There’s only so many goldfish to one fish bowl and I had to buy more bowls first.

My boyfriend rubbed my back and got some plates to place on the table. I took one last bite. Perfection! Bringing the potatoes and the rolls to the table, we ate dinner while we had parental supervision. My boyfriend smiled and I smiled back. This was truly far from my Hallmark picture idea of a romantic night, but it makes for a good one to tell our children. That’s right. He still married me, and…we’re still going strong after fifteen years. I’m proud to say I’ve learned to make a few recipes correctly and drive better.

Your writing will take you on turns that you didn’t expect. Finding humor, patience, and positivity through the process will help to keep you going. Continue putting in effort. Sometimes, the wrong ingredients will show up, and you need to scrap some of it off to get to the good stuff. You’ll have moments of saving your own goldfish from your tears too. Embrace all of that. But, don’t forget, that no matter if your project is not turning out the way you had planned, it doesn’t mean it’s a complete loss. Maybe, just maybe, life experiences are finding a way into your story, to create something you didn’t even know was possible. Something much more.

_____________________________

Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs.  In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story.  Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well.  Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence.  She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years.  She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.

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