Monday, April 22, 2013

Thighmasters, homekills and email valentines by Karina Bliss

One of the old photos I came across. My mother and I drinking wine on the deck at the Pataua bach (holiday home) of my sister . I love the place so much I set a book there - Bring Him Home.

I’ve been spring-cleaning my inbox which means sifting through all the sub-folders I've made to move mail and feel efficient. Clicking through the ‘personal’ folder was like opening a box of old letters and trinkets.

Here’s what I found:

* A seven year old email from my son’s then teacher which I kept because it was so illustrative of his character.

“I just wanted to let you know some exciting news –
Jordan has been selected to participate in our Gifted & Talented Mathematics Program.  This is a great opportunity for Jordan, and although he did scrunch his nose up when I told him, I thought I’d pass the exciting news along to home (as I don’t think he’ll be screaming it the minute he walks through the door??).”

And yes, he forgot to mention it when he got home from school.

* My one and only Valentine from his non demonstrative father that WASN’T the result of hinting, nagging or emotional blackmail. An email card with a frog on it. What can I say? I’m desperate.

* A satirical letter I wrote to the Christchurch Press after a male journalist came to the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference and published one of those predictable and ignorant denigrations of romance.

Dear Sir,
My compliments to Martin Van Beynen for his excellent article on the recent conference of Romance Writers of NZ. His courage in such frank personal description of these women (obviously he doesn’t fear meeting those ladies again!) is to be lauded in this day and age of political correctness. Though I’m a leg man myself, I enjoyed his preoccupation with breasts very much.
I read a book myself once and didn’t enjoy it - so I can only admire Mr Van Beynen who went to the trouble of reading two before dismissing romance as ‘schlock’ – a great word and its overuse in no way impinged on my enjoyment of his story.
My wife reads romance – astonishing, I know, when she had the real thing in front of the telly with her every night – and suggests Mr Van Beynen got a lot of his facts wrong. Bollocks! After all, Mr Van B is a journalist. The man spent two days at conference keeping an open mind and no doubt having to eat quiche and the like. Surely this makes his opinion worth more than my wife’s and the 51 million other women who read this rubbish?
When I repeated Mr Van B’s assertion that romance was ‘schlock,’ my wife replied that Mr Van B was a big ‘schlong.’ I can only assume this is romance speak for the ‘alpha male’ to which Mr Van B compares himself and must surely confirm his estimation as correct.

* A poem from my twelve year old nephew, Luther called Rat Begun.
He took the quietness of the rocks and stole the swiftness of the wind to make his walk.
To make his coat he took the grey of storm clouds and the dirtiness of the sewer.
He also snatched the twinkle of the stars and the blackness of the night sky for his eyes.
And that's how rat began.

*  My favorite funny email. These humorous similes and metaphors are usually attributed to high school essayists, but they actually originate from a Washington Post contest launched in 1993 called the Style Invitational.  Here are a few stand-outs.

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides 
gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances 
like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog 
makes just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a 
bowling ball wouldn't.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, 
either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping 
on a land mine or something.

The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender 
leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard 
bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up

What else did I find? An email from a foodie recommending menu choices at a Chinese restaurant (order Peking duck and don't forget to ask for the carcass to be made into a broth/soup which should be presented at the end of the meal)
Emails with diet tips cancelled out by emails with recipes, an email from a butcher with a homekill cutting list attached (we have steers on some land up north and one is unmanageable. Fret not, he still lives). I found a receipt for a meditation tape that promises to increase my creativity and correspondence with the manufacturer over a rusty washing machine.

And while I was sifting and smiling, I was thinking about character and what the emails I’ve saved say about mine. And how the toughest job of a writer is to create people who have the rich, quirky layers of real human beings.  

So how about you? Is there an email filed away in your in-box folders that makes you smile? Are we humans hardwired to accumulate, even if it’s electronically?

May sees the release of A Prior Engagement about a guy who comes back from the dead to discover he's accumulated a fiancee, the same woman who turned him down on the eve of deployment. Go to for more details.


kris said...

Soooo many laughs and nods of recognition with this post, Karina, but I truly LOVED your letter to the editor. Oh, I bet it felt GOOD to put that on paper!

Anonymous said...

From MarcieR:

Note to self - Do NOT read Karina's blogs at work!

"She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog
makes just before it throws up."

This one had me covering my mouth because I didn't want my boss to stand up and shush me.

I also love love love your satirical letter!

Well done.

As to saving emails - I'm a deleter.
Hmmm. Now what does that say about me?

Pamela Hearon said...

Yep, I have an email folder of "goodies"--it's simply named "Saved." When I was teaching, I kept a drawer of my desk for mementos that I packed into a tote and brought home with me when I retired. It has a doller bill that one of my classes passed around and signed--my present from them on my 50th birthday!
LOVED the letter!!!:-)

Pamela Hearon said...

Um ... that should be dollar :-)

Karina Bliss said...

Kris, yes it did feel good. The sad thing was they never published it or any of the more serious letters to the editor posted by an irate group of writers. Many of them were literary works of art too. I used to get very het up about this stuff, now it's 'meh, your loss'. I like being in the 'in crowd' who love and 'get' romance.

Karina Bliss said...

MarcieR, aren't those metaphors priceless! Doesn't matter how many times I read them I get a laugh out of them.

Karina Bliss said...

Pamela, 'Saved' sounds a much more interesting name than 'Personal'. I love the sound of your dollar bill though it should have been a $50 in keeping with the occasion :)
Ever thought of framing it? I have my very first royalty check framed. You can get clear, two-sided frames that stand on your desk so you can see both sides.

Beth Andrews said...

Karina, love your letter to the editor! Too funny!

When my son was home for Christmas we went through the huge box of papers/report cards/drawings etc I have saved and we had a real laugh at some of the notes he wrote as a kid *g*

Karina Bliss said...

Beth, aren't you glad you kept that stuff? And what a fun thing to do together, I'll try that one myself.

Liz Talley said...

Oh my gosh, this was the perfect Monday post. Bwahaha, I LOVE it, especially the letter to the journalist. I keep giggling about that one, and I'd seen those funny comparisons before - I may have to work the thighmaster description in somewhere.

Great post, friend!

Karina Bliss said...

Thanks, Liz! Nothing like a giggle early in the week.

linda s said...

Thanks for the laughter. I enjoyed your post.
I have family email folders but most stuff I delete after I read. None of my email is as amusing as yours.

Karina Bliss said...

Linda S, glad you enjoyed it.

Snookie said...

I love Luther's Rat Begun :) and the metaphor list, oh my, they had me laughing out loud! And the email from your son's teacher, so good to get positive emails, all the emails I got from my son's teachers were complaints of some sort or another. He had a hard time in school. Now that he is in Auto/Diesel Mechanic school, he's loving it! I have a bazillion emails in folder and at least 6000 in my inbox. I delete the garbage and save the rest to read later and seems like I hardly ever get to them. I need to figure out how to stay organized :)

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