I like the easy questions!

Posted: August 13, 2014 in Writing Prompt
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I went and checked out a recent ‘Daily Prompt’ from WordPress.com, and it started me thinking.  You know, some answers are so obvious that you just have to be amazed that someone spent time and oxygen to even ask the question.

“Would you like some ice cream on your apple pie?”

Um, duh!  Apple pie is good.  Ice cream is good.  Apple pie a la mode, particularly if its a freshly baked pie, still warm from the oven, with a hint of cinnamon and caramel… I’m talking a bliss that has my mouth watering.  The last time I drooled this much I was watching an underwear model take his shirt off, and as tasty as he looked, I’d still rather have the pie.

I would have preferred a sign that said apple pie, but I'm a professional, so I can adapt...

I would have preferred a sign that said apple pie, but I’m a professional, so I can adapt…

As a waitress, I deal with lots of oxygen-wasting questions at work.  Occasionally, I’m required to ask them, but generally I have to field little bits of utter obliviousness from my customers.  For example, I ask a customer what side item he would prefer with his cajun burger and he counter-questions “Do you have french fries here?”  Never mind that his teenagers have both already ordered fries with their meals.  Never mind that a complete list of sides, including three different styles of fries, is printed in multiple places in the menu.  Never mind that I told the table Giovanni’s is running chili cheese fries as our daily appetizer feature when I took their drink order, which pretty much guarantees that we must have chili and cheese and fries.  Because I’m a professional, I blandly replied, “Of course!  Do you prefer shoestring, wedge cut, or waffle?”

Once I got back into the kitchen was where I sputtered.  (Here’s a harsh truth if you’ve never worked food service yourself: In the ‘back of house’, those regions of the restaurant that are not open to the dining public, the employees are judging you and sharing their judgements with coworkers.  If you are a great tipper, an awesome customer, or we simply want to drizzle chocolate syrup all over your naked body and then lick it off slowly, we are letting our coworkers know.  If you are a rotten tipper, if your kids’ awful behavior is a poster for birth control, or if you just touched my ass while I was talking to the table next to yours, I’m going to keep my coworkers informed about that as well.  You may or may not be on camera when you go out to eat, but you are definitely under surveillance.  That said, servers who vent while they are in the front of house are one of my pet peeves.  We have observations and opinions and we have a right to share them, even an obligation if it is something that effects our coworkers’ ability to perform their job.  However professionalism says we do our job gracefully and pleasantly even for customers we dislike or disapprove.  Letting a customer hear us talk shit about them, or even about other tables in the restaurant, so that they wonder ‘if they say that about that table, what do they say about us?’, means we are not being graceful and pleasant.  Yes, I’ve come to equate hypocrisy, maintaining a facade of fake friendliness, with professionalism.  This is just one of the reasons why I maintain restaurants are different from the real world.)  I listed three reasons why the customer would already know we have fries if he had more awareness then your average eggplant.  But I’m used to people not paying attention, so that’s not really a big deal.  What I couldn’t figure out, even after asking the cooks, was why awareness would even matter.  I can’t think of one restaurant that has burgers and doesn’t have fries, so why would the question ‘do you have fries’ even come up?

Yes, but do you want fries with this?

Yes, but do you want fries with this?

“Hey Emily, would you like to tell us about what you’re wearing?”

Always!  Whatever else may or may not be going on, in my life or in Firsty’s, the excuse and raison d’être for this blog is to show off my cute outfits.  The Word Press prompt claimed their particular obvious question was given to us by a literary witch, so I decided I would dress as a literary witch.  For my shape, I’m in Standard Size Small.  (I was originally going to wear something MESH, before I was struck by witch whimsey, and I forgot to change back to the Teen Katie series I’ve been working through.)  My skin is Michela (tan) from WoW Skins, with tattoos from Orsini (‘I see you in my dreams’), Prozak (the rose), and EdelFabrik (tan lines).  My hair is Dany from My Pretty Pixel.  The witch costume is actually kind of mix and match- the bodice and skirt are from the Black Pearl Witch from Cummere Mayo, the hat is from a Fierce Designs Pink Gothic Witch costume.  The boots are the soft leather Colorado boots from Grumble, Grumble, but in black instead of the red ones I usually wear.  Finally, to accessorize and look more literary, I’m wearing my ‘nerdy’ glasses from Envious and the Skittles color-change cross piercing from K-otic.

Striking a pose to show off my style...

Striking a pose to show off my style…

“So, Emily, as an aspiring author, would you rather be an obscure novelist whose work is admired and studied by a select few for decades or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions?”

As asked, this WordPress prompt question is another no-brainer.  Yes, I write what I like and I write to amuse myself, to help myself process thoughts sometimes, to craft stories that reflect my views and beliefs.  In one very key sense, if any other person likes what I write, that is gravy- the sauce that adds flavor, not the meal and purpose itself.  On the other hand, I like my metaphorical gravy, and so if you ask me to choose between having a few people like what I write or having a lot of people like what I write, well, duh.  Who in their right mind would turn down a chance to give pleasure to millions?

I suspect the ‘literary witch’ wasn’t actually asking the question she really meant, which is the source of most oxygen wasting questions.  If a shirtless underwear model asks, “would you like to have sex with me?”, that’s a no-brainer.  Of course I do, and I wish more shirtless underwear models would ask me that question!  Except the real question is, “Are some moments of passionate sweaty bliss worth the risks and consequences that they would entail?” and that is why most people generally experience a gap between the amount of sex they could be having and the amount of sex they are having.  (And if you have no gap, if you really are having all the sex you could be having, then you are also living in a train wreck of consequences and I actually pity you more than I envy you.  Although I do envy you also; it’s a human nature thing.)  When the guy at Giovanni’s asked if we had fries, I’m sure he wasn’t really trying to find out if we had fries.  He may have meant ‘May I have fries with my burger?’.  He may have meant, ‘What are my side item choices?’.  He may have meant, ‘Hey, Emily, you’re really cute; do you want to hook up after your shift is over?’.  I’m not a mind reader, and I’m fairly literal, however, so I generally answer the question asked.

Likewise the literary witch probably expected us to add some sort of trade-off into the question.  Such as write ‘literary fiction’ of greater depth and thoughtfulness or write ‘popular fiction’ that appeals to the masses.  Except I believe books can also appeal to both the intelligentsia and to the masses, or to neither the intelligentsia nor the masses (although the ones that appeal to neither are most likely unpublished…) so that it isn’t really a trade off between being high-brow or being common.  Or maybe the trade off was that popularity can be fleeting, so we were being asked to decide between a short-lived best seller which is then forgotten a few years later or a book that sells for decades but never to a large audience.  Or maybe the witch believes books for the ‘select few’ are going to be more artful and higher-quality, so the question is would we rather have literary success or commercial success.  To make the question more poignant, would we write a book that we believed to be of lower quality than we were capable of writing so that we could court commercial success?  Would we ‘sell out’ our craft for popularity and fame?  Those are nice, thought provoking questions, but not the question she actually asked.

And questions I’m not going to answer.  Particularly since the variations all assume that I write for the external audience, and ask either which audience I seek or ask if I had to make trade-offs to seek a particular audience (high-brow, common, popular, women’s markets, what-have-you) would I be willing to do so.  My view of the writing process is a little simpler- I write the stories I want to tell.  Once I finish the story, then I try to get it out there for others to see.  I may have to tweak or edit or polish the stories for a particular outlet, but in general I’m not writing to be admired and studied or to give pleasure to millions.  Rather I’m just writing.  And then I’m trying to share my story, and I will be happy with either choice, or both, (or neither, because I wrote for me anyhow.)  I cannot even claim I’m some tortured artist, refusing to sacrifice my creative integrity because I’m not that deep.  I just want to tell a story because I believe the world is better with more stories within it.

  1. I like the lead up stories to the prompt, but you might want to tone down the pictures.

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