Monday, February 13, 2012

The Power of the Spoken Word

Yesterday, the husband, my sister and I spent the morning driving around looking for breakfast and second-hand bargains. When our original destination—a five-star coffee bar on SE Division—proved a mistake (there was a line out the door and a 45 minute wait for a table) we ended up in a sparsely peopled family restaurant/lounge in Milwaukie, where our waitress proudly crowed that the potatoes were “cooked in bacon grease.” Seated in the bar, where 100 years of legislative intervention would not cleanse the smell of old cigarettes from the place, we ate our slightly greasy but acceptable repast. Then we were out the door and headed to the lovely large Goodwill store we had spotted a few miles back.

As we snaked the car along the highways and byways of Portland, the conversation somehow arrived at what I should now be doing for a living. (Talk with this particular sister almost always ends up centered upon what everyone ELSE should be doing. She’s a walking advice column when it comes to other people, but can’t seem to apply any wisdom to her own personal disasters.) One bright idea after another issued forth from her:

“That’s what you could do!” as we passed a “doggie daycare” storefront. “You could start a pet-sitting business!” Just what I want to do. Chain myself to this town caring for other people’s pets while THEY go to Europe or take cruises to Cabo.

“You could have a booth at the Farmer’s Market. Maybe even sell food!” Just what I want to do. Tie up, for the entire summer, one out of the two days a week I actually can interact with my husband.

And my personal favorite:

“I have an idea for a restaurant that really would work in Scappoose…”

Maybe it was that last one—the implication that my restaurant experience might have succeeded if I had only had the right concept –that sent me over the edge. Irritated beyond endurance, I first shot down her idea with a slightly over-the-top diatribe detailing everything from how difficult her “simple” restaurant concept would be to implement to how my hard-earned knowledge of the predilections of the small-town diner assured me her concept was not, to put it mildly, a sure-fire success. (I have to say, I sounded like I really knew what I was talking about. Maybe I actually DID learn something during those ghastly five years. At least, I’m pretty savvy about what will NOT work…)

And then, some words leapt out of my mouth, the like of which had not made it through my vocal chords, onto my tongue and out between my teeth for probably forty years. Not since a skinny, tangle-haired teen-ager sat in a critique circle in a high school creative writing class:

“I am a writer, dammit! And I’m going to damn WRITE!”

The declaration was met by my audience with a somewhat stunned momentary silence. And then we sort of edged away from the subject and steered the conversation in a different direction.

But there it is. It's out there, now; not bouncing around off the ceiling and walls of my own head.

I've said it.

No going back.


  1. So. Okay then. The audience is waiting....

  2. Great! Isn't it amazing how things change when something like this is actually said aloud!