Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Striking Gold Again

It’s come full circle now.

As I was reviewing an odd and eclectic assortment of notes from over fifty years of itinerant wanderings in this wilderness called life, I struck gold once again. These vernacular meanderings were scraps picked up through my research for my latest play entitled ‘Frenchy’s Eats.’

This cache of soulful phrases gave me a clearer picture / explanation for the past behavior, empty excuses, denial and lack of guilt on the part of several women (especially my Mother) that I’ve known over the years. One phrase stood out among the rest and it only took me fifty years to figure it out.

High School was hard enough to tiptoe through that minefield called first girlfriend, first love, first breakup, and nagging self-doubt. It didn’t help that at about the same time I came across a worn out paperback book that so accurately captured the electric, painful, gut-wrenching throes of first love.

The Fume of Poppies by Jonathan Kozol is ‘an underground classic of first love and sexual discovery.’ It encapsulated and ‘put in parenthesis’ the phrase I had just come across.

There was another hint years later when I watched a movie entitled: ‘500 Days of Summer’ and I felt Deja-vu all over again.

The phrase in question came to me in the cryptic notes of an old acquaintance that happened to be female. She was talking about male-female relationships and what could go wrong. Her explanation was simple and to the painful point. From her point of view, the other party (a woman in this case although it could easily go either way) was ’emotionally unavailable.’

I immediately thought ‘so here we go again!’  I’ve found another phrase that I love because it goes to the core of issues I’ve had in the past.  It took one woman’s insight to clarify the actions of others. Turns out, several women in my past lives were most definitely emotionally unavailable, some closer to me than others.

Like past phrases such as ‘The Boy She Left Behind,’  ‘I’ve Moved On’ and ‘Goin Where the Southern Cross the Dog,’ this newest phrase cuts right to the heart of the matter. It encapsulates a simple explanation for some of my childhood drama and trauma and several failed romances. On the flip side, it has provided heavy fodder for several of my plays-in-progress.

It also got me to thinking about personal relationships and how some of them succeed and how others fail. I love, absolutely love, to reflect on how some couples (despite their seemingly different personalities and take on life) have lasted a lifetime while others seem to fall by the wayside, tripped up by a myriad of marital stumbles from which one or both parties never recover.

As a writer, I’ve had fun over the years creating characters and then manipulating their relationships with one another. Some are based on real life and others on an over-active imagination. In either case, those ‘golden phrases’ give my imagination a platform upon which to build the dialogue between characters. It gives credence to their actions and reactions to one another. It also smacks of real life.

Love in the A Shau was my first novel (aside from the westerns) that really tried to capture past and current emotions while tangling up and then untangling the crosscurrent of feelings between my two main protagonists.

My latest novel ‘Playground for the Devil’ was a continuation of that invisible third party manipulation between characters. As is usually the case, the male protagonist shares a fair amount of resemblance to my own thought patterns. The female protagonist is a full-blown mental meandering of my past female encounters, engagements, skirmishes and entanglements.

Once I’m in the ’zone’ I have no idea what these folks are going to say or do. But having mental pictures brought on by those ‘golden phrases’ has saved me on many an occasion. I guess it’s all part and parcel for life in my fictional world where I get to imagine and chronicle the sometime rollercoaster of emotions between my characters.

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