Hello! How are you? My imaginary children are great, and I hope yours — real or pretend — are well, too. Let’s get down to business.
One of the creepiest and most useful pieces of writing advice I’ve ever gotten is this: “If you want to write about your dead father, don’t write about your dead father. Write about a plum instead.” I started Hungry People Inside to write about dead fathers. This might be a good time to make yourself a drink:
1 grapefruit wedge
Couple of basil leaves
1 shot of of Aperol
1 bottle of beer (Beers I’ve used that tasted great in this: Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen, Illusive Traveler Grapefruit Ale, and Allagash White.)
Muddle up the basil and the grapefruit juice in the bottom of a large glass. Pour in the Aperol and top with the beer. Give it a stir. There may be a little extra beer in the bottle. Drink that first.
Now back to the dead fathers. The point my mentor was trying to make is that if something happens that’s too big or too sad or too happy or too unspeakable, you’ve got to shift those feelings to something manageable and contained, something edible, like a plum. Then get to work.
I forget what my point is, but I think it’s something like this: If you’re gonna unload your feelings on the great, vast expanse of the universe, or outline your preference for Sheriff Amos Tupper over Sheriff Mort Metzger on Murder, She Wrote, you’d better bring snacks for everyone. There’s a reason it’s called The Last Supper and not The Last Time I’ll See Everybody; Mystic Pizza and not Julia Roberts Gets It Out of Her System in Coastal Connecticut.
Plums — purple, red, right in the palm of your hand.
I’ve invited them all over to the house: Hitchcock, Steinbeck, Lucille Ball, all twelve of the 12 Angry Men, my family, your family, a few terrible losses, et al. They’re squeezed together at a table that barely seats eight, and I’m trying to make enough to feed everybody.
Photograph by: Olya Victoria