Attention seeking

“The dinner went well?”

Marlene often asked questions with her back turned.

“Riotous, as expected. But a success.”


“In order, G-ma arranged a near formal entrance for herself, by way of a perceived slight. Possibly by me.”

“What did you do?”

“The tables and chairs were crammed together to accommodate everyone. She chose an impossible route to the least accessible chair in the room. I advised against it, offered to convey her plate while she re-routed.”

“She exited the room, of course.”

“Yes, caused quite a ripple, but Nene handled her. Simply said ‘Mom? What’s going on?’, then went into the kitchen and ushered her back. By then everyone else was seated and five people had to rise to let her pass.”

“A triumph all around.”

“And then Nene opened with ‘Does anyone here like Donald Trump?'”

“She’s not always as sweet as can be, is she?”

“She said it sweetly, and her brother actually let his hand start to rise. I believe he stammered a couple words before the din of scorn overwhelmed him.”

“He’s been listening to his buddy Joe.”

“Joe, yes. You unfollowed Joe because of his tirades didn’t you?”

“I didn’t unfriend him.”

“Did I say unfriended?”

“No dear.”

“Outside of that it was pretty much all Gigi’s show.”

“She’s a sweetie. She was supposed to be a teacup.”

“And cost ‘Jack must not know’. I remember.”

“She attacks the biggest dogs. She’s fearless.”

“A Yorkie the size of a small cat, yes. Everyone was warned again about feeding her scraps. The near death experience, the pancreatitis, was recounted yet again to make sure we were all in line about it.”

“Can’t be too careful.”

“Of course she came pleading to everyone during dinner. I’ll bet she was next to me ten times. Very polite with the ‘I want something’ look.”

“You didn’t.”

“Of course not, I doubt anyone did. But by dinner’s end she was being scooped into people’s laps and petted.”

“Even closer to the food. That’s a bit perverse.”

“As it turned out, the begging wasn’t about the food.”

He left it silent, smiling until she broke down and turned.

“What are you talking about? Why are you laughing?”

“In the end she went under the table and peed on G-ma’s foot. She’d been begging for an hour to go out. Couldn’t get it across.”






2 responses to this post.

  1. Much tighter, more professional, a better sequence. But there’s been a casualty hasn’t there? It’s usually the case with such radical surgery. Gigi now shares the lead instead of being the star.

    And now you face the sheer tedium of deciding where to put in “She said”, “He said” and “Joe said”. There’s no great fun in this and instinct urges you to leave out as many of these clunkers as possible. From the inside, as writer, you see them as clumsy, clogging up your sentences but this is the result of being over-familiar with the structure. Pick up a novel by any author you like and you’ll find more of these guidances than you could ever imagine. More than that, they don’t clog up the story. The reader’s eye slides over them in the way it does over punctuation – an almost subconscious acknowledgement, but important.

    Oh yes, and neatly done. Previously I couldn’t immediately guess at Nene’s gender, here you’ve revealed it in consecutive sentences.

    Now write another story based on an argument which develops out of the use of the verbal prefix: un- . Keep it close and feverish, just two bad-tempered people, their character emerging only through the dialogue. You caught my eye with that one and there’s an opportunity here to be entirely original. I believe this is called encouragement.


    • Thanks Robbie. I may give your suggestion a go, though a minute long session of thinking about it (last night) yielded little. As for the casualty, I’m still patting myself on the back for juxtaposing two attention seekers. I suppose you’re right about the he said/she said business. In my head the roles in the dialog seem clear without it. I do understand that colorful bits of explanatory narrative would work well here to enhance a longer story. This too was a quickie.


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