And what’s this got to do with writing anyway?
One of my writing colleagues recently published an article about prejudice against beauty. What? Who doesn’t like beauty? We all enjoy seeing beautiful things, places, faces. But what we don’t usually consider is how that pretty face makes us feel. Envious? Intimidated? Intrigued? Superior? Before that gorgeous gal utters a single word, have we judged her based on appearance? Continue reading
Two dauntless dames from Vassar’s Class of ‘54 plan to meet for lunch in Santa Monica. This should be easy, except Alumna Number One lives several miles down the coast and rarely drives her grey Camry into the metropolis of which Santa Monica is a part.
She looks up the address on Google and memorizes the location.…well, sort of. She doesn’t remember how to find the GPS button on her phone. When she exits the freeway, she turns in the direction she thought the map had indicated, looking for 27th and Pearl. She can find 26th and 28th streets, but no 27th and no Pearl. Continue reading
What’s in a Word?
When my cousin Ruth phoned, I said, “You were nice to call. I bet you remembered this is the day my mother died. “
“Alice,” she said, and I could just see her primming her lips, “nobody says died any more. You really should say Continue reading
Recess at Reservoir Avenue School wasn’t much fun for her. As a chunky klutzy kid, she was among the last to be chosen for group games. She wasn’t very good at jumping rope because her feet and the rope would entangle. She usually avoided playing marbles because she didn’t want to risk losing her favorites — and she had so many favorites, especially the clear glass aggies. There was, however, one game at which she did moderately well.
There was once a judge who always listened with great interest. First he would hear the prosecution’s case, consider the argument, nod, and say, “Hmm, you may be right.”
Then he would listen just as carefully to the defense, nod, and say, “Hmm, you may be right.”
Finally, one of the lawyers, in a passion of exasperation, blurted out, “Judge, we can’t both be right.”
And the judge thought and said, “Hmmm, you may be right.”
She likes that story because Continue reading
Reservoir Avenue School was a red brick, two-story building for students in grades kindergarten to fifth. Miss Moore taught second grade, and everybody knew about Miss Moore. Miss Moore once got mad at a boy and choked him around the neck so hard that blood came out of his mouth, and he died. That’s what they knew. That’s what all the kids knew.
There was no escape.
There was no other second-grade teacher. Continue reading
Over the years, I’ve received a lot of Christmas letters with enclosed poems, most often terrible parodies of “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” The meter is faulty, the rhymes wretched. One year, quite a while back, I was inspired to retaliate in kind by Edgar Allan Poe’s immortal “The Raven.” ©1984, 2012 J. Guenther.
A Visit From the Christmas Maven
Once upon a midnight jolly,
weary from the Yuletide folly,
–decking halls with plastic holly,
rushing ‘round from store to store,
attending parties overlapping,
present buying and present wrapping–
I sat down and started napping
‘midst the holiday decor.
As I nodded, slowly slumping,
suddenly there came a bumping, Continue reading
Some time ago she read of a woman who could read the newspaper through her fingertips. Amazing, if true, she thought she wondered if she could duplicate the feat. Starting with the newspaper seemed much too daunting. Even a book seemed too much of a hurdle. She would start with a deck of cards.
After shuffling the deck three times — just to get the feel of things — she laid the deck face down on the table and slid off the first two cards. Which was the higher? She pressed the fingertips of her right hand, first on one; then on the other; then back to the first one again. It had to be the card on the left. She was sure of it. Continue reading
“I wanna to be a witch,” my four-year-old daughter said.
“Are you sure? You don’t like scary things.”
“Yes,” she said with a firm drop of her chin.
“You know witches usually have big noses, warts, and straggly hair. They wear raggedy black dresses and pointed hats. That’s what makes them witchy looking. And we could find a lot of costumes like that.”
Finger in mouth, head to one side, she paused to contemplate. “I wanna be a pretty witch.”
“Not a scary one?” I asked.
Once she was young and eager.
Her future could not have been brighter.
Until she fell to literary hell,
And emerged as a ghostwriter.
Pity that poor ghostwriter.
Hear her pitiful moan.
She brought you fame and a trademark name.
Yet she remains unknown.
Give heed to that sad ghostwriter.
Respond to her high whine.
Set her free from her misery.
Share the damn byline.