Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take
Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things.
The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.
“how’d it go?” she asked. diane originates from, and still lives in, upstate new york and her voice has that special accent. nothing extreme – not like an ‘oh moy gawwd‘ that i think of coming from long island or the jersey shore. still, there’s definitely a thang in her voice and that’s whati’m pausing on, staring at her, and processing what has just happened. “well,” she asks me again. “how did it go?””casting pearls before swine my dear. that’s what i do.” i tell her, feeling like a sausage must feel when coming out of the grinder. my voice has no thang, no lilt, no life. i pull a chair away from the conference table where she’s sitting alone and set my laptop bag on it. it’s suddenly heavier than normal. i sigh then attempt to explain, “i tried to make my point as clearly as i could without throwing anyone under the bus or telling fred his baby is ugly.”
“was richard there?” she’s good at asking the simple questions loaded with hidden meaning.
“of course, but he backs his people as i suppose he should.” there’s nothing hidden in my words.
“fred’s an idiot and everyone knows it. richard knows it too.” when she says ‘idiot’, that natural sparkle in her eye seems brighter for an instant. there’s no love-loss with fred, from either of us. she just states it as a matter of fact and it carries a natural weight. i adore her.
“be that as it may,” i mumble. “it’s back to the drawing board on this one.” i shuffle in-place a bit and feel the heft of my bag once more as i lift it back up. it’s time to leave even if it isn’t.
she sees what i’m doing and asks, “you coming back next week?” a legitimate question given how i feel at this moment. she’s eyeing me to look for some sign.
another sigh, “of course. but i’m not going to kill myself to fly back first thing.” pausing briefly and trying to sound more confident than i feel, ” i’ll see you tuesday sometime.”
she get’s up and follows me to the door where she gives me a friendly kiss on the cheek. we’ve known each other, and have worked together, for years so her display of affection at work doesn’t bother me. i have my things, smile for her and sidle through the door. i reach my rental car in the lot not remembering who i may have passed or nodded to along the way. i begin what i call ‘the back-out procedure’. it’s slang, a nod to my days, 20 years ago, when i was in the military. it means prepping to exit: fill up the rental, turn it in, check-in for my flight… go home.
once on the plane, i make a final check for email before shutting down my phone. i have a new one and it’s a message from diane. i read it, and re-read it, several times before the flight attendant tells me once more to shut down. it’s a quote. no personal message, just a quote. this is what she sent me:
It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly…who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.
~ Teddy Roosevelt
i smile once more for her and turn off my phone. “see you monday.” i say to myself.