Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I have a new boyfriend!

His name is Larry, and he's about 80, maybe older. He's a retired fire chief from here in HB. He picked up on me today in line at Quizno's. He saw my baby in the carrier slung over my arm and he told me about a couple at his church who just had quadruplets. Yikes!

Then Larry asked if I wanted to hear a joke.

Well, of course! I love to laugh.

So he told me about a man who changed his outgoing answering message to say, "I've been making some changes in my life recently. Leave your name and number at the beep. If I don't call you back, you're one of those changes!"

I got a good giggle out of that so he told me more jokes, about Osama bin Laden meeting St. Peter, about blondes, and everything in between. I kept waving customers ahead of me so I could stay and listen to Larry's jokes. I bet his sandwiches were cold by the time he picked them up.

Listening to Larry's jokes just about made my week. He explained that he had survived surgery for a brain aneurysm and was now battling cancer and his experiences had taught him that laughter is truly the best medicine.

Well, sure it is. The only thing better than laughing 'til you hurt is laughing 'til you don't hurt.

I was excited to get out to my car and call my husband to tell him about my new boyfriend. I thought, "Larry's like a character in a book." And then it hit me: great characters are built out of real people's experiences. They're the folks that we know and encounter in our real lives. Good writers can take and translate that onto a page so when we read these characters, we relate to them. We recognize them from our own experiences, for better or worse. A great character to me is one who lives past the end of the book, someone I wish I knew; why do you think we call the colorful people in our own lives characters?

It was a small but important lesson to me in remembering to soak up the details in life, to think about the things that resonate with me so I can translate them into words that ring true for others.

So I'm raising my can of cold diet A&W root beer in salute to those characters so much larger than life, no book can hold them.

Hooray for color!


Rebecca Talley said...

What a great experience. I love meeting people like that.

Stacy G. Anderson said...

After the hard year we've had with parents deaths, it's so nice to know that we can still laugh at times.

How's your book coming along?


Dixons said...

Melanie, you never cease to amaze me with your whit! You have such an amazing way with words. What a gift! I'm exited about your all your blogs, so that even though I don't get to hear all your amazing comments in church, I can still listen to your wisdom and insight! ;) Miss you guys!