It’s a general existential crisis.
The assignment is relatively simple. I am to bring nine index cards to class. They are a “story board” for a story that, presumably, I will have to write later on. The first card has to list the various characteristics of the protagonist, the second, the protagonist’s goal. The third and fourth cards are for the first conflict the protagonist encounters and its resolution. The fifth card, the mid-point of the story, needs to explain how the character reaches the goal. Cards six and seven are for the second conflict and resolution. Card eight should contain the climax. And card nine will outline the denouement (a word much-mispronounced in class).
To allay my panic, I got T.R. to do the assignment with me. He jumped right in and invented Sir Aftree of Oakhollow, who needs to find the Apple of Truth “with wich to defend his kingdom.” On his journey, he is set upon by warriors of the red scorpion. We spent some time discussing the fact that the protagonist is supposed to get out of the conflict by himself, but eventually, T. solved this problem by having Sir Aftree call upon elven wind wardens, who sweep down and kill the enemies with bows. Sir Aftree then proceeds to scale the walls of the fortress Gathaldwi, slays the guards, shoots an arrow with a rope attached into the pedestal “where lies the appel” and climbs the rope. On his return to his kingdom, Sir Aftree is surrounded and captured by demon wolf riders, but escapes by biting the apple of truth, which turns him into a white dragon, allowing him to fly away. “He goes home and gives the apple to the cook who makes the apple pie of freedom wich promptly flies out the window and poops apples on the enemy making them run for shelter.” T.R. concludes, “They were never again attacked by warriors of the red scorpion, the blue plum sandwich, or the ‘cute’ lil bees ever again.” Monty Python, eat your hearts out. And remind me to teach T. to spell “which,” lest he turn out like Clark, whose spelling is extremely amusing, if not entirely functional.
And there I was, still having general existential panic. What could I possibly have to say? What could even slightly hold the interest of anyone?
So I decided to go for the ridiculous. When all else fails, go for the laugh.
My character is (drum roll, please!) myself. Because of the adventure question I have been dealing with, I decided my goal was to find the treasure. I imagined that we were browsing around in Pauline’s or Park Street Antiques here in Alameda and bought a map for a buck that looked like a treasure map of Crown Beach. For fun, we decide to follow the map. “We can pack a picnic,” I’d say. “I have a Swiss Army knife I can bring,” Brent would say. “Do I have to go?” Syd would say. “What are we doing?” T. would ask. “And can I have a cookie?”
Unfortunately, in the night, the treasure-hunter and his motorcycle gang break into our house and try to steal the map! We foil them using household items, including, but not limited to, small children and musical instruments. In the morning, groggy from lack of sleep, we trudge to the beach and dig up the treasure box.
However, T. has wandered off to look for shells or gum wrappers or sticks or something, and gets nabbed by the gang, who hold him hostage until we are willing to turn over the treasure box. We pretend to hand it over. Meanwhile, T. has annoyed the heck out of the gang and they are happy to return him. We go home and, in the presence of swelling music, open the treasure box to reveal: an old teddy bear. We conclude that we need to reunite the gang leader with his treasured lovey. They all come over for cookies and milk. We all live happily ever after.
I don’t know if I have what it takes to bring this story to class. Syd laughed at me and asked who I was trying to impress. T. just laughed at the story.
So: do I bring the goofy story to class or do I try to make up a “real” one?