Clean Living Makes Lousy *Copy*
My mother and David's mother loathed each other on sight.
It was clear from the moment the two of them first set eyes on each other last night. As we stood outside the restaurant, I watched them exchange a limp, insincere handshake ... I heard the thinly-veiled contempt in their voices, as they secretly eyeballed each other's shoes/earrings/handbags/dinner dates ... I watched them subtly jockeying for the best position at the dinner table ("Won't the sun be in your eyes if you sit facing the water, Mrs. B?" "Not if YOU are sitting in front of me, Mrs. D") ... and I knew we were in for a rocky evening.
Things grew steadily worse as the evening progressed. My mother 'accidentally' forgot Mrs. Ð®åƒ±êrvØ¡'s first name ... all night long. David's mother 'accidentally' knocked over my mother's cup of coffee. Twice. Neither one of them would address the other directly: it was, 'Secra, would you please ask David's Mother to pass the sourdough loaf when she's finished licking it?' ... and 'David, would you be so kind as to ask Secra's Mother to remove her hand from your father's knee?'
The next thing I knew, my mother was lunging across the table, brandishing her salad fork like a machete, while Mrs. Ð®åƒ±êrvØ¡ shrieked 'HE'S TOO GOOD FOR HER! HE'S TOO GOOD FOR
"HOLD IT!" David interjects in horror. "You can't write it that way!"
When I ask him why? -- does he not understand the concept of literary license? dramatic tension? using cheap plot devices to jack up counter stats? -- he points out the obvious: I can't write it this way because it didn't actually happen this way. (Also because both of our mothers are likely to read this particular journal entry, at some point in the not-so-distant future. In which case, *we* will have a great deal of explaining to do.)
"Can I say that your dad and my mother's boyfriend duked it out in the men's room before dessert?," I ask hopefully.
"No," he says firmly. "Write it as it really happened: our mothers got along just fine, everybody had a good time, dinner was great, and the evening was a complete success."
Yeah. OK. That'll win me a Pulitzer.
With a sigh, I return to the keyboard to try again.
"Now that's just plain wrong!" David sputters indignantly. "You loved that restaurant!"
OK ... technically that's true. I do love Scott's at Jack London Square. But how scintillating would this journal entry be if I tell my readers that? I mean, seriously: who wants to hear that we had dinner in an elegant, four-star restaurant overlooking Oakland's waterfront, with a spectacular sunset view, flawless service and world-class cuisine?
"It's more interesting when I complain about stuff," I whine.
But David is still wearing his big Disapproving Frowny Face. Our motto here in the SecraTerri/Ð®åƒ±êrvØ¡ household is *We Write What We Live & We Live What We Write (Except Maybe For That Stuff About Cloning Roy Orbison In Our Bathtub)* -- and I know I'm going to have to take one last crack at straddling that fine line between reality and embellishment.
Once again, I begin to type.
The evening was a total fiasco, from start to finish ... and it was all my fault.
"OK, that's IT," David says in exasperation. "Move over. I'm writing this journal entry for you." And he gently pulls me out of the computer chair and sits down in front of the keyboard.
Fifteen minutes later ... he is still sitting here. I peer expectantly over his shoulder at the monitor. He hasn't added a single word to the narrative.
"Not so easy, is it?" I jeer affectionately.
That's the trouble with clean living, functional relationships, fine restaurants and wonderful parents: they make day-to-day life a lot nicer, a lot healthier, a lot more fun .... but they make lousy *copy* for an Internet journal, sometimes.