Friday, July 24, 2009

First Mover Advantage

There are many things he does not tell me. What he does all day for example. He claims to be a "researcher". Contributing to the world's knowledge and all that. I have no idea how sitting alone in a room all day you can do anything much. But then, I believe him. But then again, I'm not like him.

I work at McDonald's.

I could also claim to contribute to World ... erm, World Hunger or something. If nothing I at least contribute to those zeros that they put up at those tall signs on each of our outlets. The ones which say 'so many morons served' or something. But then I don't. Because I have no pretensions about life. You are born, you go to prom, you fuck, you have kids and you shrivel and die one day in an obscure bed somewhere in front of a few idiots who think its worth their while to buy white lillies for you. And that is if you are lucky. Else your life is screwed before it even began. Each one lives for himself - and no one 'contributes' to some invisible global coffer of knowledge. Just to that very visible coffer in their local bank.

He also refuses to tell me why he insists on wearing those stupid white sneakers and the same pair of jeans every day and why he still drives that idiotic old Saab of his. I mean he has enough money to buy one of those fucken' German beauties. Yet he sticks with Swedish trash. He tells me he is going to graduate in a year, and that it is probably the low point of his graduate life. His research isn't getting anywhere either. Why that should affect his clothing - I have no fucken idea. I work at a blasted McDonald's all day, but hell - that doesn't mean I turn out all the time in a grey shirt and a smelly pair of jeans. I sure like to spend that dough at those boutiques on Charles Street. And sometimes I wished that he'd just wear the stuff I buy him. Not fucken' bitch about it all day! Like Mr. Parsons at the outlet when I overdo the fries. Both of them go to my fucken' head.

I've decided. I'm going to end it. I've met this other guy - Jim. He's not bad. At least he doesn't write computer programs while I'm lying on the bed - the only thing missing a placard asking him to have sex with me. Sure, Jim's a fat idiot who doesn't know shit about anything. But that is a trade-off a girl who serves fries all day has to live with.

I've even worked out how I'm going to do it. I'm going to make a YouTube video and post it online. And then use his email account to send it out to all our friends. Its for his own good. If I don't do this, he'll end up alone, miserable and will wake up one day in a puddle of his own filth wondering why his life turned out the way it did. I even know what I'm going to say:

"Dear Michael, I want to tell you that I'm breaking up with you. I am a 24 year old waitress who stays with her mom and watches Gosspi Girl all day. And you can't even keep ME happy! You need to get out of your fucken' shell and appreciate other people. Take care of them. Be tender. And all those words you call 'stupid' and 'sentimental'. Well, guess what? They're important. They're fucken important Michael! Its high time you realised that. It's over. O-V-E-R!"

***

(Meanwhile across town in a tiny lab this email is being written)

"Sara,

Unfortunately I cannot continue to go out with you any more. I thought that if for a change I dated a 'normal' girl I would be happy. I thought I could make you understand the wonders of the world. The magic behind everything around us. How things come together. How they break apart. But I'm afraid your case is irretrievable. And unless you improve and make an effort to be more interested and curious about what happens about us, learn to appreciate and marvel at how things just work your life will remain as dull and uninteresting as it is now. Sara, in a curious kind of way, I do love you and I want you to be happy.

That is why I'm copying this email to all of our friends.

I hope you will forgive me.

Michael."

***

76 people in and around Boston now have two new messages in their inbox.

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8 Comments:

Blogger George said...

"researcher" in quotes kills the tone established by the first two sentences: they make for a good opening; removing the quotes or perhaps modifying the sentence to draw less attention to itself might help.

"I have no idea how sitting alone in a room all day you can do anything much" is clumsy; how about "I have no idea how you can do anything much by sitting alone in a room all day"?

"erm" feels like the quoted researcher (perhaps I should patent this phrase -- good name for a rock band, no?)

There are two "those"s in the next sentence -- two many too soon. Shouldn't "on each" be "at each" (unless these signs are like chimneys)?

Isn't it "go to the prom"?

"it's worth" (the apostrophe pines to be used!)

The quotes around "contributes" ...

the only one thing missing "is"? [allow me to be rude and relish the irony in that line]

Nice touch with the gender revelation (or have I been watching too many movies of a certain kind?)

"Its for his own good" (Is the apostrophe hatred an intentional error for realism? If so, please ignore my bile earlier)

Gosspi? Intentional switcheroo?

You used the correct "it's" later -- may I have my bile back, please?

"anymore" not "any more" (the second feels right when you're dealing with diminishing numbers -- e.g. good articles on rediff.com? There aren't any more.

Nice idea and effort. I perceive an imbalance in the presentation of the two sides -- the "Sara" part gets more coverage and the story seems kinder to it; it makes the "Michael" portion seem like it was trying to get itself in before the story wound up.

I trust the joke of contributing to world knowledge isn't lost :)

10:10 PM  
Blogger Abhishek said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Abhishek said...

Bravo! This is the kind of commenting that would really help the members here.

I agree with a number of your points (esp. the grammar!). In hindsight I guess I have purge the quotes as a way to provide emphasis. How about italics? I'm not sure. In general I've learnt a few lessons in economy as far as words is concerned. I guess the same discipline needs to be applied to punctuation. The "its" fiasco is purely a lack of application on my part. Though I did at some point try and make Sara sound uneducated/"unpaDh gawaar", but I'm not sure that comes out.

The gender revelation was not an objective. Although now that I read it in "that way", I guess it is a somewhat interesting sentence!

As for the attention given to Sara, I thought that once the reader realises that Michael too is writing the a similar letter, then the story is basically over. I wanted the Michael part to be a sort of forceful quick ending. I kinda like that choice I made. Maybe you identify with his POV more, hence asking for more?

Lastly I had a question about writing and creating plots in general. Lately I've found myself writing a little bit, and what I do is sit at my desk and start writing without pre-constructing a plot. I can never think of plots beforehand anyway. I just keep on writing hoping the story goes somewhere, and most of the time it does. I think this style would inhibit me from writing really well-planned plots with enough hints and continuing suspense because I myself am unaware of what will happen. I often have to go back and change a lot (in terms of style, even tense) once I've written something completely.

I was wondering how you (and some others) did it?

12:49 AM  
Blogger George said...

Let me respond in pieces:

> Bravo! This is the kind of
> commenting that would really help
> the members here.

I'm convinced that you're a masochist. Blame "Elegy" for the push I got to read your story and respond; then I became mean and evil; and now you rejoice. Strange person you are.

> How about italics? I'm not sure

Italics might work; since the first block represents Sara's point of view, the quotes don't feel inappropriate as a stylistic choice; I still see a dissonance in the opening, though. Perhaps you could make the first two lines read like they were written by a less "educated" person ;)

> uneducated/"unpaDh gawaar"

Unless you were making a joke, that's "anapa.Dh" in iTrans. And I believe it's "ga.Nwaar" ;)

> Maybe you identify with his POV
> more, hence asking for more?

I don't think it's a bias of point of view; it might not necessarily be just the size of the blocks assigned to each -- perhaps it's how Michael's section is written.

I'll respond to the last question in another comment just so that it's easier to delete offensive content later :)

5:59 PM  
Blogger michelwalker said...

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1:13 PM  
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7:55 PM  
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10:50 PM  
Blogger 九份 said...

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2:28 AM  

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