|The artist at work...|
November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, when a quarter million Americans sign up to write a novel in a month. This is my daughter’s maddest, gladdest time of the year. She is remarkably disciplined, setting herself a goal of around 1700 words a day and consistently meeting it. (She’s a third-year engineering major, but has been doing this since she was in middle school.)
This year she’s skewering Regency conventions. Occasionally she looks up from her nest on the couch to read a particularly funny passage aloud, and then dissolves into laughter.
Unlike Mary, I’m allergic to hard work. Here’s the synopsis of the novel I would have written if I weren’t such a slug:
The Yes Man is an Asian businessman whose English skills are non-existent. He’s very polite and agreeable; thus he’s the victim of every confidence man and siding salesman in town. His Dutiful Daughter spends countless hours canceling contracts and services on his behalf. Some are simple enough to get out of; some—like Dish TV—would try the patience of a saint.
One day, the Yes Man signs an insurance policy that offers to pay him $10,000 for the loss of a leg, $30,000 for the loss of both legs, and a similar indemnity for his arms. The policy has one of those ridiculous riders that pay several times the damages if the accident is caused by something extremely improbable: in this case it is elephants.
“Dad, this is so stupid!” rages Dutiful Daughter. “You’re in Rochester now! There are no elephants here. Have you ever seen an elephant here?” The Yes Man simply smiles and agrees with her.
Dutiful Daughter calls the agency and gets stuck in an endless phone queue. She never gets to speak to a human. Left messages are never returned.
The next day the Yes Man is walking to his restaurant at the same time as the Circus Train arrives at Clinton Street. The elephants line up trunk-to-tail for their traditional amble to the auditorium. And somehow, for the first time in history, they are spooked. The Yes Man ends up being trampled and loses both legs below the knees.
I love a happy ending. (Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)
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