As a writer a question asked of me a great deal is “Where do you get your ideas?”
I am surrounded by ideas.
Have you ever been to Walmart around midnight? If not – go. It is a parade of ideas free for the taking.
Life is all around us and if you take a moment, take a deep breathe and take it all in, you will find a plethora of interesting things which have stories behind them which are begging to be told.
Several years ago when I first moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas I happened to pick up the Sunday edition of one of the area newspapers. And while casually flipping through, I found this:
There are so many things to love about this picture. The smiling and resplendent bride in white. The reluctant bridegroom sporting a work shirt complete with pen in pocket. Their respective names. A Justice of the Peace AND a Pastor officiating. And the coup? The final line of the notice.
“After a weeding trip to the monster truck rally in Springdale, the couple is at home in Rogers.”
The old adage “you cannot make this stuff up” applies here.
As a writer I see a story. How did these two meet? And how did they come to this moment? And for corn’s sake why are they proud they are honeymooning at the monster truck rally?!? There is definitely a story to be told and this picture – this one picture – led to a series of plays about the small town of “Dupont, Mississippi”, a film short and a television special.
Small town newspapers are the best for ideas. Especially ones published weekly.
The above article appeared in a small regional publication known for its “cutting journalism”. Once again I was visiting this wee li’l hamlet, and picked up the paper and discovered the headline above:
“Baby Jesus, missing again”.
The article details an annual scourge visited upon this sleepy town every Christmas season when a band of hoodlums from a neighboring state steal the Baby Jesus from the town’s life-size nativity displayed in the park. But on this particular year additional vandalism was perpetrated: “We also regret to report there was a decapitated fiberglass cow found at the scene.”
And that line worked its way into another script of mine.
Wanna make people laugh? Cry? Hold up a mirror to life.
And there are those who give you a creative gift without realizing. People who are simply being themselves, loud and proud and no apologies. The Honey Boo-Boos of the world who help me make a living by being who they are.
And I thank them.
Okay. Don’t turn on me and don’t think me to be morbid or uncaring.
A few years ago I was at a funeral. I won’t say where or for whom, but it was a family member who was dearly loved and had been ill for quite some time. The family gathered at the funeral home for the service, and as I looked around I noticed a series of small rooms surrounding the chapel. Antechambers. And having read almost every Nancy Drew novel, I felt compelled to investigate.
My sleuthing revealed these antechambers were in reality traps where personnel would corner the bereaved and sell them souvenir crap of their dead loved one.
I was appalled.
I was fascinated.
I took a brochure.
Have you ever heard of Thumbies Fingerprint Cremation Jewelry?
No? Well you have now.
Thumbies Fingerprint Creation Jewelry is precisely what it says on the tin.
From the website:
Thumbies & Fingerprint Memorial Jewelry gives families and friends the unique opportunity to immortalize the fingerprint of their loved one in a precision-embossed precious-metal charm. The fingerprint can be incorporated into a number of styles of memorial jewelry including pendants, tie-tacks and cufflinks.
My favorite Thumbie merchandise offered? The cigarette lighter.
Look them up.
Later during the service while the organ music is playing solemnly, I glance around and something caught my eye.
A most exquisite pair of cankles.
And this gave me an idea. A “Cankles Christmas Calendar” with each month featuring a different pair of cankles.
I pursued this idea with camera to tow in my attempt to catch the cankle in its natural habitat. But when I discovered it was difficult to take these pictures under cover and unobserved, I abandoned the project.
As I valued my life.
Unintentional funny envelops us.
Several years ago I was driving home for Thanksgiving and as I passed through the tiny town of Weiner, Arkansas (population 714), I was compelled to pull over and pick up the weekly local newspaper.
And the headline reads, I kid you NOT; hand to God…”
“Flu Shots Given In Weiner.”
I’ll just be sick. Thank you.
I find life funny. Fun.
And look around, and I am certain you will do the same.
Oh, and I always laugh at myself first. I am fully aware of my own personal ridiculousness, foibles, shortcomings, idiosyncrasies and contradictions.
And speaking of ridiculous – see the gallery below…