Hitting Me With Pool Noodles Won't Help
Plus, a Love Song to Sherry Shriner
|Anthony Russo||May 17|
I have an image that I just can’t shake. I’m desperate to share it, but the story it’s for just isn’t coming. It happens a lot to me in my writing, an idea that is looking for the right story to be in. I think a real failing of mine is I too often confuse the element with the story. I spend an obscene amount of energy trying to hammer ideas into stories only to find that they belong other places.
Lately it’s been the aphorism, “Facts aren’t pool noodles.”
I have this image of people standing around swatting one another with those colorful styrofoam-like tubes, lounging in the pool between them, arms and legs slung Christ-in-an-armchair-like, using them as water cannons near the filter return.
Whether I hear people agreeing or disagreeing, this is the picture I get. A lot of conversation tends toward hitting one another with facts as if they’re stand-alone objects rather than flexible ideas that are tied to other flexible ideas.
If there’s a single meta-reason for how divisive things have become, I feel like this is it. A fundamental misuse of facts as flaccid weapons. They’re sentences not stories, the sticks and paper of a kite, and I think we too often forget that.
Imagine for a moment we’re both standing poolside holding noodles and all of a sudden I smacked you with mine. You could smack me back with yours, and we could start just batting one another playfully or aggressively depending on the tone of the hits.
Alternatively, you could say, “Ow. Why did you hit me with a pool noodle?”
There are plenty of possible answers. I could tell you I was just playing, or that I was mad at you, or that there was a bug on you I thought I could dispatch if I just used the right pool noodle the right way. These are all great and acceptable answers.
Unfortunately, what I say is, “Do you deny it’s a pool noodle?!”
To which you respond, “Well, where did you get that pool noodle?!” and the whacking commences.
That is how most conversations look to me. Hardly anyone ever says, “Yes, I see it’s a pool noodle, but what did you think you’d accomplish by hitting me with that pool noodle at this time?”
I’m sure there are sociological reasons we do these conversation dances, but I’m even more sure we don’t have to. I think it would be beautiful and also hysterical if conversations eventually evolved into mutual therapy sessions. If we could talk about why we chose our list of explanatory facts rather than just bragging that we had them and smacking one another with them.
A Love Song to Sherry Shriner
As I was working on the book, I had so many little snippets I couldn’t find a way to share, so I keep making blog posts about them. This week I write about finding a video so bad it was funny and what kind of monster that makes me.
When someone cares too earnestly about something I think is dumb, it fills me with derision. I wish I could make it stop, but it’s almost reflexive.
Events and pre-events
If you’re not following me closely on Facebook, I don’t blame you, but if you’re interested I’ll be doing a short reading May 25 on Facebook Live to celebrate my book launch. I feel like 7:30 might be a good time. I’ll have a link next week.
If you’re interested in coming to my first signing, do me a favor and say so on my event page. I’d love to see as many of you as are willing. I’ll be driving cross country this summer in support of the book, and I’ll add events as they are confirmed.
Todd Soldiers Out
After a too-long break, we got back to the Day Drinking on Delmarva podcast this week. I explain my absence and the time change for those who want to watch live. In this episode, Todd celebrated both his vaccination and the beginning of the shoulder season by inaugurating something he calls “Tasty Tuesdays” wherein he visits some of his favorite bars in the afternoon to get a seat all to himself.
Final Promotional Paragraph:
Thanks so much for reading this far. If you forward this email or share this post, I’d appreciate it.
This week I discovered that I missed a couple of emails that got redirected to junk, so if I haven’t responded to you, it’s just my own dopiness. I check my spam box daily now.
Dragged Into the Light should be available in paperback on Amazon in the next couple of days. Signed hardbacks already are available from my publisher here.
Thanks for hanging out and have a great week. Seriously.