Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meghan has a Wonderful day at Work (Meghan lies)

“You would make an excellent Elvis impersonator.”

Meghan sits in her car after work, stooped over the steering wheel. The keys lie on the dash board, untouched. Meghan stares straight ahead, lips pressed hard into a straight line. Her brow creases in concentration as salty liquid pulses behind her eyes. Her eyelashes bat up and down, furiously attempting to stay the saline waves. As the voice repeats again in her head, the liquid sees its chance and springs forward, streaming hot and furious down its cheek pathway.

No, no, no. That’s not right. Let me try again. I’ll tell you a nicer story, from the top:

Meghan pulls her minivan into the parking lot, swinging in under the neon sign. She immediately finds the perfect parking space. She does not drive around aimlessly for 10 minutes, cursing and smashing her hands against the dash, teeth gnashing and hair frizzing. No, she glides seamlessly into the spot; in fact she executes a positively superb parallel park. She is most definitely not late.

Meghan hops out of the car, skipping carelessly around a large puddle beside her van.

No, never mind. There is no puddle at all. Let me try that again.

Meghan hops out of the car, skipping for the joyous sake of skipping. Upon opening her car door, her keys do not fling out of her hand as if they had been pitched by a pro baseball player, skidding across the parking lot. Her cell phone does not wriggle loose from her ripped jacket pocket plunging directly into a cesspool of water and gasoline waiting below. She most definitely does not, only moments after fishing out the sopping mobile, step in this same pool of filth, soaking her left shoe completely before heading into work, where she is not reprimanded for being late...yet again.

Meghan is completely impervious to the heat pulsating in the restaurant, stifling, melting the paint on the walls, bending and blurring peripheral vision: airless and suffocating. Her face does not flush with a hot red splash of roasting colour. She need not desperately will the beads of sweat forming on the crest of her brow to halt and evaporate before the customer she speaks with notices the small droplet of salt dripping down the side of her cheek. Meghan, without a doubt, never has large unattractive perspiration marks form on the underarms of her cotton tee shirt.

Meghan does not hear the man with an uncanny yellow cowboy hat approach the cash register.

She does not look up when he projects arrogantly in a loud southern accent. She remains completely unaffected when he opens his wide mouth, rimed with a salt and pepper, handle bar mustache. Meghan does not hear his words, spat out by his voice box, pressed forward with his tongue and formed by his lips.

“You would make an excellent Elvis impersonator” this man does not say.

Meghan’s mouth does not hang perpetually open in this moment. She does not state blankly at the man with the yellow hat. She definitely does not giggle, because she didn’t think she heard him properly, and she never, ever asks him to repeat himself only to reassure that what she thought she heard was true.

“I said, you would make an excellent Elvis impersonator” he doesn’t obligingly repeat, giving a taunting smile, turning on his heel and marching away.

Meghan does not take a wavering step back, speechless, her brain struggling to process. She does not repeat this phrase to herself as he struts out the door. The picture of a gargantuan, fried banana sandwich- eating, fluff-banged, white spandex unisuit-wearing, sweating mass of a person that might be an Elvis impersonator, is not the image that forms in Meghan’s mind. The likeness of herself standing in the restaurant with a moist forehead, frizzy short dark hair and rhinestone-free two piece ensemble, does not immediately meld into that of the slovenly icon. This comparison does not sear into her mind, branded with a glowing red emblem, as embarrassment sends a wave of sickness crawling up her throat.

Later, at the end of the day, Meghan does not slump miserably over the steering wheel of her van. She does not let the musings of a person wearing a large yellow cow boy hat reach out and shake the very foundation of her self-worth for that day. But most importantly, large round tears do not form behind her eyes threatening to spill out in cascading ribbons. She most definitely, without a doubt, does not being to cry.


  1. Wow Meghan, I don't know how you do this! This was an incredible thing to read. The beginning reminded me of Atwood's "Nine Beginnings." And I liked that. I liked the image of you crying at the beginning, which completely sucked me in because the description was so precise and so very detailed. And then this image that was sucking me into a very intesne story was suddenly interrupted by "No, no, no. That’s not right. Let me try again. I’ll tell you a nicer story, from the top." I sort of laughed, but also sort of felt like the sob story I was about to read about just got robbed of me! I loved the whole "did not" part of the rest of the story. It was a "nice" way of telling a sad story.
    The image of Elvis, or of an Elvis impersonator, was so dead-on and so descriptive it made me laugh. You began the story with the conflict, and then took us back to what happened to cause this conflict, but you did so in the most interesting way I've read so far. Great job!

  2. Hello Meghan!

    Another fantastic post! You really pulled off a difficult third person theme and it really brings this piece to another level. You were able to present an embarrassing and difficult memory, but do so in a way that doesn’t force the reader to have sympathy for you. The sympathy naturally arises through your tongue-in-cheek description of events. Both sad and funny, you hit both emotional points well. I particularly liked the description of Elvis. Finally, what I think really pulls this piece together is that you vary your diction. Because you are constantly talking in the third person, it is essential that you use differ your styles of expression so the reader doesn’t get bored. You did a great job with that and the result is a great piece of writing.

  3. What I liked most about your post was the calm remove that the narrator's voice maintains over an emotional situation.

    You could have over sentimentalized the story, but instead you maintain a poignant matter-of-fact tone that doesn't ask the reader to feel sorry for you. Instead you let the story simply be what it is.

    Your characters are never too serious at the same time. The charicature of the yellow cowboy hat man allows you to take power away from him through your retelling. We can see him simply as a jerk, and not some over dramatized villian.

    Great story