Homage

From time to time, I encounter a real live person with traits that I’d like to give a character in a book. If I had a book to write. Probably I ought to finish my second attempt, but I feel guilty about how much I’ve plagiarized from a friend’s real life, although the embellished parts are pure genius. I’ve really got to try writing fiction next time.

I wish I’d tape recorded port commission hearings when I’d had the chance, because there was this one commissioner who always peppered his comments with the most bizarre expressions, like, “Then we really fall into the rat hole.” Except weirder. And I thought it would be funny to write a character who used expressions that had never been used before, and thus weren’t actual expressions. But I can’t think of any.

Another idea is a character who explains the most mundane and obvious concepts as though they’re rocket science. As in, he bought an outfit for his wife as a present. Excitedly, he explained how he did it.

A catalog arrived from the store. He looked at it and asked his wife if she liked a certain outfit. She did. Then he went to the store and saw a salesgirl who was about the same size as his wife. He asked her what size she’d wear. So he bought it in that size … and then they put it in a box, and they put colored paper around it, secured it with tape and wrapped a ribbon around it.

Today, I overheard him announce to a colleague that he’d just discouraged a solicitor.

“Someone came in?” she asked.

“No, they called on the phone.”

I stopped eavesdropping at that point, but you’d think he’d never encountered a telemarketer before.