Wednesday, March 12, 2008

HeraldTrib Today: March 12, 2008

Well, there’s not much here, I’ll admit. Part of this is that last week, K.W. Barrett Elementary (where my kids go to school) hosted parent-teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday. Instead of trying to pawn the kids off on others leaving me with time to blog, I just hung out with the kids (we had a great time).

Next week, the kids have spring break, so I won’t be working then, either. In fact, I won’t even have this weekly update on March 19. I’ll see you again on March 26.

There’s more to it than that, however.

I started this blog with the idea that not only would you be able to get news about Buckingham (since no one else was covering it), but you’d also get writing a little different than what you might find in the area’s papers and web sites. Frankly, I was going to have a little more fun with it.

Those of you who have been reading since the onset might remember the “poems” (I use this term very loosely), and my attempt at stuff that might loosely have been called “prose” rather than stories.

I’ve found, as time has progressed, that I have fallen, more and more, into standard news style. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. Finding and reporting news items daily, however, leaves less time for thoughtful pieces, more creative pieces. It is easier, though. That’s why so many papers in the country cover the basic news with the basic story. It’s efficient.

I think these ideas really started rolling through my brain when I was sitting at the new McDonald’s on N. Glebe Road, at the entrance to Arlington Boulevard, watching people. I had been working on my “Poop on Science Night Piece,” and as you might have witnessed from the end result, it was not going well.

This guy caught my attention. I started wondering how I would handle his description if I were writing a fictional story about him (I have a master’s in fiction writing), and how long it’s been since I really got creative.

He was a white guy, morbidly obese, a day of grey stubble on his grey fleshy cheeks, cheeks with spots of red high up near his eyes. He chewed with his mouth open, rolling the food with his tongue then masticating. He wore a thin jacket over a button-down dress shirt.

I remember him now, and my memory is a little foggy, so we’re now, maybe, not quite factual, with mayo tucked into the corner of his lip, and a pair of wire-framed glasses. The blue jacket, more a windbreaker than coat, hung open over his dull, yellow shirt. His tan pants were stretched over his thighs so tightly the pocket openings flared open like the strangling gills of a landed fish.

He did not chew like an obese man who had gone too long without food, but with the perfunctory diligence of any animal, and lacking the self-awareness that separates man from other animals.

In that fictional sense, I got wondering how that lack of self-awareness would play elsewhere in his life, in his work, his relationships.

And somehow, the fact that he is real, that I am very consciously writing about him, making us all conscious of his existence and habits somehow seems unfair in a non-fiction setting.

I find myself now giving him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he was very aware of his chewing habits, but could do nothing about them. Perhaps we was sick, the pallor and red blotches on his cheeks evidence of the flu. His mouth he opened to breathe since his nose was stuffed. Perhaps, a fat man all his life, he was daring people to watch him eat—“You want a sideshow?” he asks in the glance over to me. “I’ll give you a sideshow.”

…There, that feels a little better.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Today's Headlines:

  • Police Notes for Buckingham

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Letter: Don't Put Apartments at Glebe and Pershing

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