Prompt #2Posted: February 28, 2012
I started taking Rachel Sherman’s Ditmas Park Fiction Workshop back in January, and sometimes, if the trains are slow or people are late, we’ll start with a writing prompt for 10 minutes or so. I’ve never really used these before, but they do work. They do a funny thing to your writing brain–you can’t stop to re-think, and in that way, only the real meat of something comes out, or at least that’s how it feels to me. It’s harder to fuck it up. Last night, she said “Write about a lesson.” So, this is what came out:
The lesson is: You can cheat your boss out of product if you figure out a way to hide it, like exchanging a ten for two fives–same money in and out–when viewed from the grainy footage of the security camera that surely he never checks because, after all, you’re fifteen years old and this is Baskin Robbins and you’re raking it in every night in July and what’s two scoops to him, when he gives the girls who work with you make-up for Christmas, and they’re mortified. He gives you a pen and pencil set, and you’re thinking–that’s it? Make-up and writing utensils? It occurs to you then how sexist and awful this is, but you don’t have the words for it yet, because you haven’t read Judith Butler or Jack Halberstam or Ms Magazine or Gloria Steinem or Susan Faludi or Alice Walker, and only after you have read them do you realize what an idiot he was, not a horrible person, trying to be nice, but getting it all wrong.
The lesson is, also: Some people will smoke pot in the walk-in and never get caught. This perplexes you does not infuriate you, just hangs there like a big cold question mark. How do you smoke a joint in the walk-in and not get caught? What if your mom is a regular at Governor’s Lounge and she’s three times once the Tight Jeans Contest and you’re thinking–what sort of thing wins the tight jeans contest? Just, like, how tight they are? Later–see above, the Butler, the Ms. Magazine–you’ll understand that it probably has something to do with how you look in the jeans.
Then, the lesson is: Sometimes you have to drive the offending pot smoker back to her house at 1am, after you turn off the light and set the alarm and cram the wad of cash down into the safe and throw the key back under the door, because her contest-winning mother has had too much and can’t drive, or won’t, or shouldn’t, or is already passed out on the couch, which is what it turns out to be when you get there, and you’re seeing her drunk in the jeans with her long hair that reminds you of the covers of your neighbors Cher records and you think the last lesson is: I gotta get outta this town.