Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where's a slushie when you need one?

Had an incident in the grocery store yesterday. It's hard to explain, exactly, because I'm still not too sure what was going on in the mind of the woman behind me in line. What I do realize, though, is that I am S-L-O-W when it comes to people dissing me.

For some reason, something set her off, and as we waited for the cashier to finish ringing up my order, she kept muttering nastiness in a low voice. Maybe it was because the lines had grown long or maybe it was because she didn't like my jacket. Eh...who knows? What I do know is that I kept giving her the benefit of the doubt and let her comments roll off, keeping my voice and reactions upbeat.

But when I took my receipt and pushed my cart away, she said something particularly nasty and my mind froze. Surely she didn't mean that the way it sounded. But the more I thought about it as I walked to my car, the more clear her condescension became to me.

At that moment I glanced around the parking lot, wishing I could find her and toss a full slushie on her, ala GLEE (see pic for clarification :)

Truth is, I wouldn't have done it even if I'd had the chance (or the icy beverage in hand). Instead I spent the next few minutes beating myself up over not having a snappy comeback. Of course, to have a comeback, I would've had to realize that she was snarking at me in the first place. Again, I'm slow sometimes.

But this is where writing comes in. An antagonist in Chocolate Beach was based on someone I once knew, someone who liked to tear me down on a regular basis when I was younger. One reviewer commented that people aren't that mean and all I could think was, "Lucky you." At the end of Chocolate Beach, readers (and the heroine) learn what was driving that particular antagonist to act the way she did. And I think that's key to character development: getting to the root cause of a person's ways.

So I'm confident that Angry Shopper Woman will show up in a future book. By then she'll have a back story for all her nastiness and she'll garner our pity and some sympathy for her troubled past. She'll be peppered with grace and who knows? She might even change a stripe or two.

In the meantime, though, I can't promise she won't escape a slushie shower...;)


Michelle V said...

Another writer recently mentioned a t-shirt given to her that said something along the lines of.....I'm a writer...be nice or you'll end up in my book........(can't remember if that's the exact wording).

And, I'm like you, the snappy comebacks come to me later, but not at the time.


Tamara said...

I just had an indecent were a guy I barely know was saying derogatory jokes about women and how they step all over men...bla... bla...bla.
My lame come back was, "boy, I think some counseling may help you with some of those issues."
He later apologized, but I did warn him the incident may show up in my writing later.
I'd like to have a wittier comment, but with a back handed slap on the end for people like that. Something that they think is funny at first but when they think about it they say, "Wait a minute?"

Tim King said...

I loved this story, Julie. Yes, people can be that mean, and I loved the antagonist in Chocolate Beach (if she's the character I think you're referring to).

I'm not sure a snappy comeback would have really helped, though. Remember, be nice to those who hurt you, for by so doing, you'll heap gallons of slushie on his head. (I think that's in Romans somewhere.)


P.S. Michelle, I need one of those shirts!