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Courtney Eldridge

Development for “Developments”: Sketch for Leslie Friedman

See, I was just thinking about excruciating songs and teenage girls and looking at Leslie Friedman’s print, and here’s what came to mind.

Raymond, Renee’s boyfriend, whistles. Chronically. Like he hits his whistle zone and doesn’t realize the whole table has been staring at him for a good two minute whistled guitar solo. Even worse, given his taste of music, it’s usually the likes of some classic rock top-forty song. So here’s the scene:

Weekday morning; sunshine in the tiny linoleum-floored kitchen; Thea and Ray are sitting at the kitchen table, while Renee stands at the stove, cooking eggs for Raymond, whose reading the newspaper.

Thea’s got her notebook open, trying to ignore him, taking a bite of toast, and then, turning the page, shaking open the paper, Raymond starts in:

Do, do, do, do, do, do, do . . .

Instantly, Thea stops drawing and stops chewing, mid-bite.

Tonight, I want to give it all to you . . .

She stares at her sketchbook page, assuming he’ll stop if she projects hatred into the room, quiet breath of fire. Which she tries to do, and does very well, but to no avail.

And tonight, I wanna lay it at your feet . . .

So she looks up and stares a hole into her mother’s back for bringing this man and his whistling into her life.

Ray? Renee says, sensing a burning feeling in her spine. Ray? she says, barely audible over the sound of bacon, frying. And of course Raymond’s oblivious.

Ray, she says, turning off the stove, just as he hits the chorus: And girl, you were made for me—.

Rainman, stop! Thea shouts, and then Ray looks up, startled. He looks at Renee, then Thea, then Renee. Thea never calls him Rainman openly, though, and Renee stares at her. No one speaks, and then, finally, Renee crosses the kitchen, asking: Juice?

No, thanks, Thea says, getting up, carrying her plate of half-eaten toast to the sink, and rinsing her plate. She dries her hands, grabs her notebook, and leaves the room without saying another words. Less than a minute later, as she’s heading for the coat rack, near the front door, Renee walks into the room, walking straight for her.

Thea.

Mom.

He’s our guest.

No, he’s your guest.

He’s a guest in this house.

Remind him of that on his way out.

Thea, I’m asking you, Renee says, staring at her, and Thea just stares back.

Mom, I’m waiting for the question.

The question is, Renee says, about ready to slap her daughter, but preferring to enunciate: am I ever rude to your boyfriend?

My boyfriend’s not a loser.

That’s not the question.

No, it’s not a question, Thea says, and then a horn honks out front.

We’ll talk about this when tonight.

Can’t wait, she says, opening the door, walking down to the parking lot. She can’t even bring herself to look at Cam, opening the door and getting in the car in a fury, slamming the door.

Easy . . . take it easy.

Sorry.

What’s wrong? he asks, looking at her glaring, staring straight ahead.

She nods, not answering, thinking it over, and then, just as he’s about to lose patience, Thea says: And now I’m going to have that fucking song in my head all day, too, you loser!

Cam waits a moment, looking at her profile, knowing she sees him in her peripheral vision, but she’s stone-faced. Then he says: What, so no kiss?

It’s a beat, but she can’t help it, laughing.

Yes, you can have a kiss.

I really shouldn’t have to ask.

No, you shouldn’t. And you know why?

Yes, but you tell me.

Because I was made for loving you, baby—.

You are so cruel.

Note: Obviously I will have to edit this scene for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that fair use allows two lines of lyrics, no more, no less, of any song before you have to negotiate with music publishing companies. That is, if they deign to reply to your request, and aside from that nightmare, I’ll be damned if I’m paying Gene Simmons one red cent.

2 Comments

  1. Posted November 10, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    So weird. I used to write a lot of short stories. I once wrote (what I remember to be a very good one, who knows) a story about a guy and a girl who fall for each other. She’s described as increidbly plain, so plain, it is unclear how such a “cool” guy could really want her. You realize at the end that the narator must have been in love with the guy, which is why she is so cruel in her description of the girl. And more so, you realize that the guy is not cool at all. He’s kinda obnoxious. And, for much of the story, he speaks in song lyrics. He’s constantly quoting.

    Music, and moreso, music taste, is so tied to what we see as cool or compatible. In the personal ads, it used to be pretty common for people to describe themselves by what kind of music they like. In some ways, it is not very telling it all–the music is not them, it is something they consume. But, givent hat you only have so many words you can use (in a traditional newspaper personals section), it said a lot more, a lot quicker, than other means.

    Just interesting stuff. Quoting them lyrics is.

  2. Posted November 10, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Leslie, if I’d known you write short stories, I would have asked you for a story and a print. Open offer, you know. An entire story of characters quoting song lyrics, even.

    Thank you for dropping a line. No pressure, but I’m just really excited to see the print you create for this project.
    C.E.

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