It's summer vacation time. Yesterday was my last day and I tearfully said goodbye to my 5th graders as they go off to middle school, finished listening to my 3rd graders mysteries we wrote over the past two weeks and looked forward to really digging back into my steampunk Cinderella variant that I wrote during NaNoWriMo a couple of years back.
To celebrate my son, Pi, and I went in search of the two food trucks in town as part of the Great Food Truck Race somewhere near Copley Square. It was there that I had a bit of an epiphany, but first a quick trip back in time.
When my oldest was in 5th grade, we had this conversation with his teacher asked him the following at a parent/student/teacher conference:
Teacher: "I know you're young, but any ideas of what you might want to do when you grow up?"
Chesley: "Be a writer."
Teacher: (smiling) "Like your mother?"
Chelsey: "No, I'd like to be published."
Me: "Hey! There's a word for that - unemployed."
Teacher: (rolling eyes) "Now I know where he gets it."
I am pleased to say that he is now a college graduate and, like his mother, he is a writer. He is also unemployed. <insert evil laughter here>
Back to the present and waiting an hour in line for the most amazing burger I have ever had at Seoul Sausage's food truck with Pi. (Yes I would stand in line for an hour again and I would totally buy more than one for me this time. People in LA, I am jealous of you being able to have this tasty treat when you want.)
Pi's pop punk band, Vegan Arcade (which is funny since none of them are Vegans), is looking for a drummer after the last guy didn't work out for them. As we sat on the curb enjoying our burgers, he noticed a guy enjoying his food next to us. The guy had a bunch of drumsticks in the pocket of his backpack and Pi initiated a conversation:
Pi: "Hey, are you a drummer?"
Guy with sticks: "Nope." (laughter) "Yeah, I am."
Pi: "My band's looking for a drummer. Are you available?"
Guy: "What happened to your drummer?"
Pi: "We lost him somewhere around Boise, ID. We didn't even notice until we got to Poughkeepsie."
Guy: (saucer eyed in surprise) "Dude, you ditched your drummer?" (realizes it was a joke and starts laughing)
I have maintained for years that the sense of humor exhibited in our family is genetic. Perhaps it is, perhaps it's just that somewhere along the way some ancestor realized you have to look at life through a slightly distorted lens and just laugh. I say some ancestor because I have distant cousins from Germany, the midwest and other parts of the world that I have run into as an adult doing family tree research that share the same sense of humor. I don't see my parents as particularly sarcastic people (although my father was always one for a good twist that turned into a memorable laugh) but still these sharp observational comments punctuate our lives.
Perhaps that is why the characters I hear in my head have that twist in their voice? They are like my children who demonstrate the apple doesn't roll far from the tree. I then wonder, is that why detectives tend to be snarky? Is it why we all want to see vapid cheerleaders? Perhaps that's why we have these stereotypes in stories and in our heads - they are programmed there from early on.
It's a new challenge for me now, to really take a deeper look at my characters to see if perhaps I can understand them just a little better. While Cyn is sarcastic, her circumstances have really set her up to view life that way, but what about the others? Is her sister really that vapid mean girl or is she fighting for something deeper? Is it that the prince is handsome, he's a prince or he just wants to be himself? It's a good way to really rethink these guys a bit and hope it makes the story even stronger.