Friday, February 10, 2012

Stupid Days

Sometimes characters who are supposed to be smart do monumentally stupid things, and every intelligent person reading the book (or, more probably, watching the screenplay) protests, because nobody in the story notices the stupidity.

If you have to have a character do stupid things, you need to make him self-aware about it and make clear that it's an aberration and he, and the people around him, know he did something stupid. Because we all have days like this occasionally:

I had an ice pick in the back of my head. (Note that, to the best of my knowledge, I've never actually seen an ice pick. Yet the metaphor for sharp, localized pain comes naturally to me. I must have learned it from people accustomed to ice picks, such as authors, or my mother. How many of our routinely-used metaphors have become cliches with no force because of such learned usages? That's something to beware of.) So I wasn't getting anything useful done. But I had to buy more fusible* before I could work on the blouse again, so I drove to the mall that till recently had a decent JoAnn's and a Hobby Lobby, and now only has the Hobby Lobby, which I don't like to go into because all those rows and rows of useless stuff make me dizzy and they don't carry notions at all. Somebody explain the retail logic behind stocking patterns, fabric, and ribbons, and no buttons, thread, pins, or zippers. Seriously, this is one of the biggest mysteries of the age. But anyway, seeing that the JoAnn's was gone I decided to see if Hobby Lobby had maybe ordered something as useful as fusible by mistake, and patted my pocket as I was closing the car door, realizing as it latched that my pocket only contained chapstick and my keys were still in the ignition. Furthermore, I wasn't carrying my purse, with the spare keys in it, since I was wearing jeans with a back pocket that holds my wallet and my glasses case fit in my cardigan pocket.

So I went on into Hobby Lobby, found some fusible, and saw that they were having a 99-cent sale on Simplicity patterns. I wouldn't have gone out of my way for it, but hey, I do need that pattern for a Hawaiian flowerdy shirt. I didn't find one, but I got five other useful-looking ones, checked out, and asked the friendly check-out person if the management or mall security would help me out with the key problem. The thing about Moby is that he's sufficiently old, you can get him open with a coat hangar if you happen to know how, and everyplace I've done this before, the programmed male response of helping middle-aged white ladies in distress has always served me well. However, her manager only said he didn't know where to find a coat hanger (why a guy with that little mechanical enterprise is even in a craft store, much less managing it, baffles me); and mall security has a policy of not helping people who locked their keys in the car.

All right, so I had to bus home. I didn't have a bus book, so I took the opportunity to look over my cheap patterns; and found that three of the five I had picked up in the wrong size. Well, drat. That's stupid thing number two.

At home, since my house key is on the same ring as the car keys, I broke into the house (which you'll excuse me given details about on the internet; as it happens, I know how to get into my own house without a key and without breaking anything), got the spare car keys, ate lunch, and then called Damon to find out where the spare keys were, because I didn't want to break into the house a second time when I got home. We had a long Abbot-and-Costello conversation before he realized where my brain disconnect was and patiently pointed out that, once I got into the car, I would have access to my house key again.

Oh. Duh.

That's how stupid I was yesterday. And I'm not sure I'm any brighter today. You can see why I didn't even try to accomplish anything meaningful, and I certainly didn't work on the blouse. It'd all be to do over.

But there's always weeding and laundry. And the redbuds are showing pink. And the mountain laurel at the mall had bloomed. And I at least remembered to exchange my patterns. Even days of mind-boggling stupidity with ice-pick headaches needn't be wasted.

*For non-sewers: Fusible is a thin treated fabric that you iron to fuse it to the inside fabric of things like cuffs, collars, and button plackets.

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