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The household-object story challenge

Submitted by on Wednesday, 9 December 2009 No Comment

kids_christmas_treeUsed to be I thought the weirdest story assignment I’d ever tackled was in seventh grade, when the teacher told us to write about what life would be like inside a ping-pong ball.

That was before last night, when I had to concoct a tale about a hot-pink Christmas ornament. Or this morning, when I needed to spin a yarn about the pink ornament’s turquoise brother.

It’s all my fault for opening my mouth and issuing a challenge to Big Guy as he worked through writer’s block.

It was Story Train night – a worksheet picturing three train parts that had blocks for the beginning, middle and end of the story – and Big Guy was stuck.

“You can write about anything. It can be about something that’s happened to¬† you, something you’ve done or something you’d like to do. It can be a story about a made-up person. Even a made-up thing. I bet you could even write a story about this,” I said, picking up the hot-pink ornament that had fallen from the counter-top tree.

Big Guy wrinkled his nose. “This?” he asked. “No way.”

“Finish your story then I’ll do it,” I said.

It was partly a stall for time. Despite my credentials as a quasi-successful professional writer, I stink at fiction. Even the concept itself was a rip-off from a “Lou Grant” episode, when Rossi made a bet that he could walk up to any random person on the street and come up with a story.

People are easy, though. They usually talk. Hot-pink Christmas ornaments, not so much. I found myself hopping on Big Guy’s Story Train – beginning, middle and end.

We started in the factory, where the ornament wondered what color its decorations would be. Next, the ornament was loaded into a box, along with grumpy blue and green ornaments that kept pushing their friends and calling names, and taken to a store. At the store, two little boys bought the box, which delighted the hot-pink ornament because all decorations know that kids’ Christmas trees are the best.

Whew. Story completed, and the guys actually liked it. I’d forgotten, though, the Guys’ Law of What We Like: If we enjoy it, you’re going to do it again. And again and again.

This morning, it was the turquoise ornament’s turn. I feared I’d tear a mental muscle trying to come up with this tale on 10 minutes’ notice.

In this story, the ornaments left the tree at night, sliding down candy canes and bouncing off branches to play on the counter below. When they heard footsteps the next morning, they panicked because they couldn’t figure out how to get back up and it would never do to let the humans see them goofing around like that.

Finally the Batman ornament told the others to calm down and think. The turquoise ornament looked around and decided to jump from a box to the napkin holder to the tree – that part was Big Guy’s contribution. The turquoise ornament then reached down to help his friends climb up as well. One by one, through team work, they made it up in time.

Sadly, the guys liked this story, too. And we all know the Guys’ Law of What We Like: If we enjoy it, you’re going to do it again. And again and again.

I can’t wait to see what story the guys hand me today. I hope I get more than 10 minutes’ notice this time.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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