The Flamingo Contest and It’s OK to Want to Leave a Legacy Behind

First, go read jaylake on legacies. Mostly for my comment near the end, o’course.

Now, get a load of this. (And it is a load of it!) Our neighbor, mama’s buddy Blinky, won an award for her lawn the other day. I wish I had been there to see her face when she got home that day.

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LJ Idol, Week 10: I can’t believe I. . . .

For The Real LJ Idol: “I Can’t Believe I Did That!”

I can’t believe I . . . actually allowed my seventy-something mother to have her Stitch-N-B*tch Coffeeklatsch afternoon over here at my house the other day.

Well, yes, I can: she lives with us, and normally this group meets every week or so, but they haven’t met for almost a month because one or the other of them has been sick or out of town. Anyhow, I thought, it’ll make ’em happy, and they’re nice, harmless little old ladies . . . what’s the worst that could happen?

(Never ASK that. The Universe hears. It obliges by showing you.)

No one would expect a group of 70-ish-year-old ladies to bring CHILDREN to the Stitch-n-B*tch coffeecake party. Yet Mama’s little group of weirdos pride themselves on being nonconformists.

Pinky brought her granddaughter. An adorable tot of around three or four. Long blonde hair with ribbons in it, big round blue eyes, enchanting smile. And Of the Devil. Her plan, starting when she entered my house, was to get her grubby paws on my ceramic unicorn collection and tenderly shatter each one in turn, swallowing the horns (that gives her more Unicorn Power.) I distracted her with a stuffed Easter bunny out of my centerpiece and turned the kitchen TV to cartoons as I got the “ladies” settled, but knew I was in for a couple of hours of watchful watching.

Somebody’d brought a cake with pink frosting. Mama had made one of her inimitable Lemon Pound Bundt cakes. Cookies with unidentified lumps (which turned out to be candies) were arrayed on plates. I pulled some frozen Thin Mints out of the freezer and let ’em thaw. With coffee and diet cola, that made a feast for those with teeth (most of these ladies have at least SOME teeth. *GRIN*) I chewed grimly on a MediFast Chocolate Mint Meal Bar as they clinked away with forks on my good dessert plates (Mama got them out while I wasn’t looking.)

Pinky had brought a Sudoku magazine and the latest TV Guide collection of crossword puzzles. She pulled a crossword out of her purse and announced that she was needing help. (These magazines don’t have the solutions in the backs; they’re in NEXT month’s issue, which is a sneaky clever crafty solution for the publisher, I think.) As everyone dug into cake and coffee, she held up the page. “This clue is crazy. ‘In ancient Greece, she turned into a spider.’ Seven letters.”

“What the hell kind of damn clue is that?” asked the ever-saintly Blinky. “Got any letters yet?”

“No.”

“The Greek goddess Athene turned the mortal Arachne into a spider as punishment for weaving more beautifully than the gods,” I said, ever the show-off know-it-all.

“Spell that.” She counted it off against her boxes, then filled it in. “Fits.”

“Smartypants,” mumbled Blinky, winking at me and pulling out her ever-present knitting. It looked as if she were halfway through a garden gnome–a soft one out of multicolored yarn, not a sturdy outdoor one out of concrete, although if anyone could do the latter, it would be Blinky. The gnome’s hat waved at me as she got her needles in position.

“That gives me several other words, in fact. Thanks.” Pinky scribbled across and down, then looked up. “I always wondered–they’re constantly using Greek gods in these damn puzzles. Were all those Greek gods real?”

“Hell yes,” said Stinky, sneering, in a don’t you know-nothing voice. “They exist all right. Ever’ last one of them. ‘Course what they are is, they’re fallen angels. Demons. Going to Hell if you have anything to do with them,” she said, as if that settled it.

“Really?” Blinky dropped a stitch.

“Certainly,” agreed Nod, nodding. “The Romans believed in them after the Greeks. Think how many pagans that was.”

What *that* had to do with it . . . unless Noddy was an existentialist or believed that the more people who worshiped an entity, the more power that gave the entity . . . made it more real, like a Velveteen Rabbit or the American Idol contestant who gets the most votes . . . but she doesn’t think in that kind of depth. Unless she hides it exceedingly well.

I checked on the Little Monster, who was engrossed in trying to pull out the stuffed bunny’s facial features. I retrieved it before the poor thing needed Lasik or an implant and substituted a set of soft blocks that I keep in the wet bar for such emergencies. She started stacking them as tall as she could, then gleefully kicking them over and shrieking with laughter. The cartoons were still playing something that she glanced over at regularly, so I figured we were OK. I expected to hear something about a cookie soon, but so far so good. She occasionally eyed the dog, but he was safely ensconced in Mama’s lap.

Conversation turned to Stinky’s ex-son-in-law, who had deserted her daughter. “High and dry,” she said. “Bast*rd left her and those kids high and dry. Already has some other woman who’s let him move in on her. Probably not paying her a cent either, but he tells Che-Che he’s broke.” She stated her opinion of his parentage and character in a few succinct cusswords. Everyone made noises of commiseration.

This gave Stinky a second wind. “I told her not to marry that jack*ss. His fingernails always have little crescents of sh*t underneath them, and he never washes his hair. I can’t believe any woman would have anything to do with him, unless she was some kind of skank.”

“Unless she were a skank,” corrected Pinky, ever the proper grammarian.

“Is she?” asked Blinky, reaching for another slice of pound cake. “Or are she?”

“What’s a skank?” piped up Sweetness, a gleam in her eye that said “Mama will hear all about this as soon as I get home.” “Is it like a skunk?”

“Yes,” said Blinky, “except the colors are reversed–the stripe is yellow. And the whiskers go the wrong way.”

They all laughed uncontrollably, except for the kid.

“Can I see one?” She ran over to my bookshelf and started pulling encyclopedias down. I hurried over to distract her with more cartoons, but the program she’d been interested in was over. Nothing was on but “Two Stupid Dogs,” which she said she hated. “I want a skank!” She stomped her little pink sandals on my pathetic white-ish carpeting. “I want to see a skank!”

“You’ll be going home to your mother later this afternoon, dear,” said her grandmother, implying that this would be a perfect venue for skank-viewing. She reached into her purse and produced one of those handheld games. The tot landed on it, tore it out of her granny’s claw, and began pounding buttons. The device sang, whistled, and flashed lights at her soothingly. They bonded as the grown-up talk turned to Dubya and the Television and Film Annual Dinner thingie that I blogged about yesterday.

Blinky had been impressed. “I never heared that man say nothin’ funny before–I mean, except where he says something funny without meanin’ to. Like when he says Noo-Ku-Lur wrong.”

“He talked about that Nancy Pelosi and then implied his mama was cranky. I bet Bar-bar was none too pleased with that.”

“But Big George probably laughed.”

They looked at Nod, who had apparently dozed off momentarily. Her eyes flew open, seemingly feeling the weight of all their gazes, and she nodded. “Well, that was funny.” She dug in her purse for her pink pills, and I slipped her a can of Jolt Cola.

“After that, though. Them two idiots and the skits they did –and the dance . . . that was somethin’,” said Blinky, neglecting to specify exactly WHAT kind of something.

“I didn’t get it,” said Stinky.

“Get what?” Sweetness wanted to know, on the alert for any possible gifts.

“Nothing, dear,” said Nod absently. “Play your game.”

Seemingly noticing the goodie table for the first time, the child climbed on my mother’s lap. (My dog scurried to safety under the sofa.) “I want a cookie,” she said sweetly.

“We’ll have to ask Nana, dear,” said my mother the diplomat.

“I’m afraid not, baby. You know you’re allergic to wheat and you can’t have sugar.” Nana Pinky dug in her purse and produced a squashed box of yellow raisins. The child eyed them suspiciously, but accepted the box when it became apparent that no one was going to offer her any cake. Assuming from this example that fruit sugar was exempt, I found a juice box in the fridge. The kid enjoyed playing with the straw. Those grape juice stains are hell to get out of the carpet.

They finally got around to dealing some cards and playing what may have been five-handed canasta. Supposedly they don’t play for money, but I could swear I saw greenbacks passed from hand to hand between deals. The Child had settled in front of the TV again and was sneaking raisins to my dog, who accepted them just to be nice and then they fell out of his mouth unchewed. He had accumulated quite a sticky stack. I’m lucky he is such a picky eater. I snatched him up and cleaned the floor just in time for the grand finale of the last hand of cards.

“Gotcha!” yelled Blinky, gloating over a stack of cards. “I told you, whoever gets the red threes wins.” She leaped up and rushed out to jump on her Harley, roaring away.

“See you next time,” said Pinky, collecting her mini-me and following Stinky and Nod out the front door.

“At your house?” I called hopefully after her, but she was already climbing behind the wheel of her 1967 Impala. The land yacht backed unsteadily down the street and headed off on a side path, carrying the crowd away.

I turned to Mama. “Find out which one is going to host it next time. I’m going to borrow some children and come with you!”

(If you enjoyed this entry, you can VOTE FOR ME HERE.)

PHILOSOPHY: Aristotle and three no-nos

Via a professor of strangestgirl‘s:
“Aristotle’s three paths to unhappiness (paraphrased by strangestgirl):
* Spend your life doing things genuinely not worth doing
* Devote yourself to doing something you can never do well
* Wait for someone else to provide happiness for you”

#1 is the reason I don’t try to go out and work for The Man by coding or testing code at a government contractor or telecom company like hubby . . . I can’t convince myself that most of the things done under the guise of “coding” are worth doing, and the few lines of code that you actually do get out into the world are soon obsolete and replaced. It is kind of his calling and his passion to debug and set up systems, so he feels fulfilled by it, but I always felt I was wasting valuable time. There are ephemeral things you can do that ARE worth doing, but housecleaning over and over probably isn’t one of them. Your mileage may differ.*

#2 is what I’m afraid I’m doing by writing the novels. Sure, I’ve heard nice things from some of you, and I’ve heard nice things from editors at workshops and in critique sessions, but then I’ve also heard that you can’t go by anything they say if they don’t actually buy. How can you say that you can do something “well” when others say that you don’t? Where is the dividing line between your belief in your abilities and your need to delude yourself that you’re good at something?

#3 . . . I do know better than to sit around doing this. So should you.

Now, get off the computer and go do something fun.

* [Yes, you’ve seen this as “your mileage may VARY,” but that’s improper usage, as pointed out years ago on FidoNet and GEnie. It actually should be “your mileage may DIFFER.” If I say your mileage may vary, it implies that you get one value once and another a different time because you’re driving freeways one time and stop-and-go the next. But your mileage will always differ from MINE. See?

Various guesses at what “YMMV” might mean, from newbies over the years:
Yams make me vomit?
Your Mom’s my valentine?
Yes, my mechanic votes?
You melted my Velveeta?
Yikes–Mozart’s metronome vanished!]

The Seven Basic Joke Patterns

Some wag mentioned on a comedy writing lists that there are only seven kinds of jokes, or seven basic jokes. In the spirit of “The Thirty Master Plots” and “The Twenty-Six Dramatic Situations,” I decided to take a WAEG (wild-ass educated guess).

1. The pun. *groan* The lowest form of humor.

2. Of the form “Three ____s walk into a bar.” *You’d have thought the second guy would duck. RIMSHOT*

3. About the traveling salesman and the farmer’s daughter.

4. Mocking/ad hominem/Don Rickles-style personal attacks. “Hey, hockey puck, your mama’s so fat she has to iron her pants on the DRIVEWAY!”

5. Fat jokes. (The last acceptable prejudice is against women who are not rail-thin. Men get a pass until they’re over 400 lbs. and doing Subway commercials.)

6. Physical humor. “Oh, Laaaa–yy-deee!” *slipping on banana peel and causing domino-reaction across an entire sales floor*

7. Those GEICO commercials with the caveman. These are the only jokes that are still funny.

Have you heard the one about–*urk*

Karl Rove’s Rap Video–In Stores now

No, I’m serious. The ‘net will be tinkling itself over this when the videos hit YouTube. At this year’s annual Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner, which we just saw live on CSPAN3 because my mother is an obsessive political-TV watcher, the President actually gave a FUNNY speech. Everything he said was funny, and the jokes were delivered well without any missteps. I couldn’t believe it! I am actually proud of him! Have never heard him do really funny lines WELL before. (Leno must have taken pity on him and sent a speechwriter.)

And THEN to top things off they had my beloved Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” doing two improvisations. The first was with Brian Williams and his date (the best part was the horn tones and shooting noises), and the second was a “rap song about you” starring none other than Karl Rove! If you’ve never seen WLIIA, you can’t possibly envision this, but. At first K. R. was kind of confrontational and wanted to give them a hard time, I think, but by the end he actually got into it and was rapping and dancing. After the segment, fifty cameramen ran wildly for the exits so they could edit THAT tape. YouTube will be full of it within a few hours. I wish I had TiVoed the show, as it was simply hilarious. *aack* The dog was worried about me, as I was in hysterics over the “horn sounds” that Williams and the lady invented. I can’t explain it–you had to be there.

*whew* But that was FUNNY.

CRAFT: Structuring Your Novel

*tap tap* Is this thing on? My friendslist has been so quiet, and hardly any comments are coming in.
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A story or poem is a vehicle. It’s an SUV (or a Harley, in the case of a short poem) that’s poised for a ride into the imagination, if you will. Any kind of conveyance has to be designed and constructed, doesn’t it? It needs wheels, a chassis, a transmission, comfy seats, a steering wheel, a Guideas rod, etc. These have to be put together properly so the power goes through the drive train. Only then can the vehicle take us on the journey it’s meant to travel. A written creation has some similarities to that other kind of vehicle.

{As ever, take the following with a cellarful of salt, as I am a nothing and a loser and a nobody who is finally beginning to be able to accept that I won’t sell a novel, ever, for fundamental reasons. Maybe some of this stuff that I learned back in the days when I “believed” so strongly will help someone who isn’t doomed. That’s why I’m posting it.}
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I thought I’d touch on the structure of a novel. A few people have expressed their doubts and concerns about using a screenwriting paradigm (or any other template that’s relatively specific) to help structure a novel. If you’re using this to examine the structure of a novel you’re writing, and not trying to use it to build one as if with TinkerToys from nothing but a paradigm, I think it can only be helpful.

I still believe that what agents and editors have been telling me (in their ways) is that they want A STRONG PLOT or STORYLINE. Plot/storyline is the MOST IMPORTANT BIT OF ALL. Characterization is good, but everything must serve the story.

I read novels for the voice–for a tour of the author’s mind–and so that I can live vicariously through the characters. Part of this is the fun of pretending that I have a best friend, a supportive community, job X like the heroine, and so forth. I always really enjoy the community. Very often, I skip past the sex scenes because I already *know* how it’s done; when I was twelve and curious but naive, I went off and read Judy Blume (_Forever_ and _Wifey_ were pretty explicit and quite illuminating) and Henry Miller (_Tropic of Capricorn_), and then I grew up and had experiences of my own that pretty much explained it. How many ways can one ski down a mountain, anyway? But of course I am NOT typical, as I have often said, and there are a lot of people who want to read about your trips down the mountain. However, any scene that makes me laugh and feel a kind of kinship as it develops between characters I am likely to re-read. The plot should be interesting, but isn’t as important as the scenes that I enjoy experiencing. This is most likely a source of many of my problems in selling fiction.

So I have never seen things the way that these particular agents/editors are telling me that they see them, but anyway, if the ones in power DO see things this way, then we must re-examine our attitudes towards freedom of structure in novels.
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Most novels have four major turning points/plot points.

The inciting incident happens early on, providing the “prod” or Call to Adventure for your hero(ine).

The first plot point is a turning point/climax that is generally a reversal: the hero(ine)’s efforts have had effects other than the desired effects, and things aren’t going as they should. The stakes of the contest are raised.

The Black Moment happens about three-quarters into the book; everything seems hopeless. (Think my career.) All is lost, and the lead characters feel like giving up, but they can’t; they’ve got to get a second wind and give it one last ol’ college try for the Gipper.

The remainder of the book is the resolution–be it a race to the finish line, a validation of the heroine’s efforts, the recovery of the Holy Grail, or the resolution of the romance.

If agents/editors don’t see your story moving forward with each scene, each scene building on the events/thoughts in the previous and leading towards the next, they won’t want your book. Perhaps it’s better to spell out stuff rather than assume that readers see these connections, though it’s risky either way until you are a known quantity to them and have earned their trust. Otherwise, they can say, “You’re not going anywhere with this,” when you could point out how you HAVE taken it somewhere, but there’s no point in arguing with them. They want to see a chain of causality, and motivations should be clear, even if only implied.
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Here are some things you should know about your book soon after you’ve gotten it started (perhaps you wrote chapter one, or you wrote an outline, or you have a couple of chapters and a few scattered scenes in mind.)

Whose story is this? That character should experience the majority of the scenes IN PERSON (rather than hearing about them third-hand from a messenger or getting a phone call about what happened offstage, with a few exceptions). Most scenes should be from this character’s POV. If other scenes are from another character’s POV, most readers will experience this character as a second hero/heroine. The days of Dr. Watson telling the story for Sherlock are pretty much past in commercial fiction, methinks, as this would lead to an accusation of a “passive watcher” POV character–anathema now.

Is your dialogue believable? It can’t be just like real life–you have to leave out the boring parts, the “how are you/I’m fine” stuff, the repetitiveness. You can’t have “As you know, Bob,” stuff. You don’t want characters to tell one another stuff they should already know, even as a “reminder.” Your characters should each sound distinctive. Does each character sound like you, or do they sound like different people (themselves)?

If you can tell who said it without having to have a “said” tag, you’re doing it perfectly.

What makes each of your characters distinct? Characters who are not the leads (hero and heroine) should be there for their own reasons and have motivations of their own, not just to serve the plot and act as foils (although they do that, too.) The social community of the book is as important as the setting. Sometimes the setting acts as another implied character. (Texas, the Southwest, Alaska, Paris, NYC, and other distinctive places seem to have lives of their own.)

I am always in favor of having a fascinating community that the reader gets to vicariously experience while reading ANY novel that isn’t one of those really sad ones where everyone dies. You watched “Seinfeld” and “Friends” for the characters, not the nonexistent and silly plots “about nothing,” if you watched them. . . .

Classic/older movies made in the Golden Age tend to have stock characters that we don’t see any more very often in film or in books . . . you know, the older couple who’s helpful (like in the film “Holiday,” with the Edward Everett Horton character and his wife), the “Crone/Mother” older woman as wise-woman character, the aunt or uncle who shows the lead characters which aspects of life they are neglecting, etc. Those used to deepen a story for me, and it also made work for actors who were past the magic youth of thirty. I suppose the audience has changed, though, in expecting everyone in a film or in a book to be “young,” whatever that is nowadays. Look at the dominance of teen lit and teen “chick lit.” Or has that ALWAYS been true, and I just wasn’t looking? It’s the demographic they want to appeal to.

*ahem* Back to your book.

Have you found your voice and worked with it? Are you trying to sound like someone else? Usually you shouldn’t, but when you’re starting out, it does help to have someone to model yourself on.

What do you want to accomplish with your book? How does it illuminate the eternal human condition? Did you try to teach anything with it (without being heavy-handed or sentimental)? OR did you set out solely to entertain? (Typically, even if you thought you were merely entertaining, the book has a theme and a “point.”)

Some readers like to learn something with each book. Others will not feel fulfilled after having spent a lot of time reading something that was entertainment ONLY. “South Park,” for example, is NOT entertainment-only. Even “Family Guy” is philosophical as well as surrealistic. There is ALWAYS a message and an anti-message, sardonic or tongue-in-cheek or ridiculous as it may seem. But a definite “theme” suffuses even the silliest episodes. There must be some reason your reader read the book. What was the POINT of all that?
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Each scene must have a purpose other than JUST advancing character and being entertaining. It should illuminate a theme and advance the plot. Some people use a Goal/Motivation/Conflict rule of thumb to test each scene, or make up “scene cards” on 3×5 cards and check scenes that way. The overall book should have a large structure that’s got a final goal/real motivations/conflicts, but each scene is also ideally a microcosm of that structure. Don’t overthink this or your scenes can become mechanical, but here are the definitions used in G/M/C scene building.

Goal: Each character must strive for something; the main chracters must strive for some grab-ring that isn’t easily attained. This gives them purpose. It’s important to note that the goal they have in the beginning can change. The ultimate goal could be the inverse of the original, or could be completely (seemingly) unrelated.

Motivation: Each character needs a logical reason that seems rational to readers as to why your character is willing to put himself through all of this stuff rather than just walking away. Readers should have an inkling (perhaps from subtext, perhaps from interior monologue, perhaps from stated stuff in dialogue) of this motivation throughout so we know why the character is persisting.

Conflict: What’s preventing your hero(ine) from achieving these goals easily? If everyone just caves and says, “Sure,” the story isn’t going to work. Conflict occurs in both the external action plot and the internal character growth story.
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You’ll probably want others to take a look at your manuscript.

I always want to ask readers: What is the story as you see it? (People sometimes tell me a completely different storyline from the one I envisioned.) Are the characters credible? Is the setting vivid enough? And so on.

What I get: This word bugs me. I hate the name “Berengaria.” Why would she have a job like that one? Why don’t you let her get laid and write more sex scenes?

Workshops and creative writing courses tend to flatten out the playing field and remove all quirks and interesting turns of phrase, destroying at least one aspect of voice. They often create writers who all read and sound the same. The no-style style is in now. Chick lit had its moment in the sun. Now it’s teen-blog style that gets all the attention. I don’t know the answer to this, except that they always claim they want something fresh and new, and then they’ll reject it by saying they can’t figure out how to pitch it and that it doesn’t fit any of the genres properly.

“The purpose of a writers’ workshop is to make all future pieces of writing better. It can only do this by enabling the writer to become a better self-critic. The pieces of writing submitted serve as samples to practice on and nothing more. They are of more benefit to the other participants than to the writer. And like anything we might use to practice on, there is a distinct possibility that they will be damaged in the process.”–Gerard Beirne

“Writing takes something abstract (emotional) and conveys it to the reader through something concrete (words) producing an abstract response (emotional).”–again, Gerard Beirne

Wow . . . it’s like analog/digital/analog, for my fellow engineers. Do we have signal loss? Do we have a poor signal-to-noise ratio? If we do, then we’ve lost clarity and need to file down those rough edges.

Set out on an adventure to find out what it is you want to write. It shouldn’t be based on what is selling now. My chick lit novel would probably have sold if I’d had it ready when the first pink covers hit the shelves. But who can say what’ll be in style a year from now?

Begin freewriting. See what transpires and try to make something out of it. What is the most interesting thing to you in/about this piece? Follow that lead. Create what it wants to be.

Good luck on your journey.

Shh! My horse has NO idea this ain’t Wyoming!

Now for something fun.

How to Write a Cozy Mystery In Five Easy Steps! It’s easy, mmmkay?

We went to the pond store in Left Armpit yesterday (and had an awful time finding it–we should’ve gone on down to the one out by Love Field, and it wouldn’t have been any farther, or maybe the one in Fairview.) They had never even heard of horsetail, but I did get a “floater” for the pond and snapped some pictures. I found some interesting links.

About backyard ponds–and more ambitious add-ons.
Lots of photos of your (my) neighbors’ secret swimming holes.

For anyone who enjoyed the “LJ Idol” topic and has read all the entries over at The Real JL Idol, here’s another thoughtful piece on the same general subject with a great comments thread. And dpolicar didn’t even know about the LJ Idol topic, I’ll wager. His is better than mine, actually!

I’m probably goin’ down this week with seven votes, but you never know. If you feel like voting for me there, that would be great, but be sure to read the entry first and see if you really like it. I hate my “fairness” life-position sometimes.

Cute comics at:
Qwantz Dinosaur Comics Goes to Publishing. Funny!
That Girl Who Writes Stuff (More graphics than text, methinks)

And now, some examples that I promised earlier.

Corporate Life in /America/ Texas Ain’t As Pure as That Seen by Some New York Powerful Women

* Hubby and I have worked at the same company. We’ve done that twice, in fact. The first time was at E-Systems Garland Division, and it was kind of a think tank government contractor place, so there was less joviality . . . yet many double entendres were passed from cubicle to cubicle. Jokes drifted over the half-walls that would not have been heard face-to-face (FTF), but gallons of cola were sprayed across computer monitors as a result.

* When we worked at Digital Switch/later DSC Communications, many double entendres were said or overheard. “Wake up–he’s headed over for a quickie,” was often shouted when hubby approached my cubicle. “I’ll be back after I do Dan,” said my friend and cohort as she departed for the cubicle across the hall (so she could leave us alone to discuss whatever), and shouts of “You’d better NOT ‘do’ Dan,” came across the hall (think “Debbie Does Dallas”), with the final admonition being, “unless you brought enough for everyone!”

* A quite buxom manager named Barbara–but universally called “Babs” with her consent, go figure–was making the rounds one day wearing her New Wrap Dress. (And this was SO many fashion-cycles ago that wrap dresses were “in,” before the latest fad for them nowadays.) The dress really emphasized her DDD “missiles,” and she’d gotten a new bra that was kind of 1950s-harness-style. You get the picture of what was entering the room before she did. Anyway, I was standing at the door of this guy’s cubicle when she came up and walked up behind him to see what he was up to onscreen. As he’d been showing me some kind of “humorous” malfunction that he could cause in the main database, he hurried to click it away and distract her with his wild engineering charm. He looked brightly up, smiled, and said loud enough to be heard over in the next cubicle bay, “Hello, Boobs!”

Okay, you saw that comin’. *That was a complete Freudian slip, but it was still funny, and even Babs laughed*

* When I worked at a computer superstore over the summer during college, the new manager decided we must all come in an hour early and watch “The Science of Selling” videotapes so we could learn all about “The Doorknob Close” and other Tricks of the Sales Trade. Titles of the individual videos included “Is Bigger Really Better?” and “The Quarter-Inch Hole.” Imagining all of the plays on words and absolutely filthy puns that took place as a result is left as an exercise for the reader. However, the funniest thing that probably ever happened (aside from that same manager using my cleavage as an example of a place to hide the register keys) was when 18-year-old newbie Caron came in complaining of how she had been SO (ahem) horny since she’d been dumped last month and that she just simply was SO cranky because she wasn’t gettin’ any . . . and this really quiet older salesman, Jim, finally got tired of hearing it and said, “Well, I can take care of that right now!” and PICKED HER UP right then and there and headed for the back room. She kicked and screamed and made a huge scene, but the staff didn’t rescue her, as they rolled on the floor screaming with hysteria and saying, “You call that ‘asking for it’!!” They returned from the back room after several minutes’ delay (for effect, one hopes) and were quite sobered. I never knew exactly what took place. . . .