I believe authors are given more experiences than the average person as a special gift from the angels. The average person might step over an emotionally-charged incident totally oblivious to the opportunity it offers. However an author will place that moment in his/her memory knowing someday it will present a funny, sad, or bittersweet view of a character’s challenges.
I pulled the following incident from my childhood and used it in Mister Darcy’s Templars. I tried to convey the panic a grownup would feel when placed in a similar situation. As those of you who follow my comedy mystery series featuring Lizzie and Darcy know, Lizzie possesses a knack for getting into pickles and charming her way out again.
And now, presenting The Whale on the Wall
Every experience holds a lesson. Some of us are smart enough not to have to learn the same lesson twice. Then there are some lessons that by their nature must be relearned…over and over. Quit while you’re ahead is just such an example.
At five years of age, I was well acquainted with my mother’s nasty temper. The slightest infraction would cause her to inflict bruises on my skinny little body. On the other hand I was always testing the limits, as curious kids will do.
I was sucking on a sugar cookie in one of the two bedrooms in our little apartment in New Jersey. My mother was clanging pots in the kitchen. As I sucked on the treat I wondered what the effect of spit on a cookie was relative to wall-stickability. Precious, I had evidence an early interest in science, cause and effect.
Slobbering the dough to what I guessed was the proper consistency; I plastered the cookie on the wall. Sure enough it stuck for a moment then slithered to the floor. Unfortunately it left a cookie-sized spot on the dusty pink wall. My mother would beat the budding scientist out of me when she spotted the spot.
Scrambling to the bathroom, I grabbed tiny pieces of toilet paper and slid them over the bar of Ivory soap. I raced back to the scene of my crime. Rubbing the spot with the soaped-up tissue caused it to become very clean and much larger. The ancient wall paint made the soap circle stand out as if a flashlight had been aimed at it. I was dead meat.
In a desperate attempt to improve the situation, I decided that the wall must be dustier than the new clean spot. If you dirty the clean spot it will blend in – a little voice in my brain told me. Where could I find dirt in a second floor apartment? Smart little tot that I was, I rubbed my fingers on the bottoms of my sandals picking up schmutz and smearing it onto the clean cookie-spot. The spot grew even bigger.
I could hear my mother winding down on her pot-banging. She would be checking on me soon. My panic kicked in. Desperate, I smeared more shoe-soot creating a spot as big as my head, but with a curious looking tail at one end. My plan had failed. I could not blend the clean spot into the dusty wall. There was a serious beating in my near future.
Taking some pencil shavings, I rubbed them on the clean spot that had grown even larger…by some strange magic.
A brilliant idea popped into my kindergarten brain. Perhaps the pink wall was dirty because it was greasy. That made sense—on some planet. If I could make the clean spot greasy, it might match the rest of the wall. I grabbed a jar of Vaseline petroleum jelly from my brother’s diaper table and smeared a handful of goop onto the spot that now took on the shape of a large whale with a perky tail.
I was staring at the whale on the wall in horror, when my mother walked in.
~ Censored due to extreme spanking ~
The giant, waxy whale remained on that wall for years. No matter what cleaner my parents used or the number of coats of paint they applied, the whale would resurface through in all its shining glory.
I imagine in the distant future an archeologist will discover that apartment. She will marvel at the resilience of that ancient art that looks like… a whale on a wall in a city somewhere in New Jersey.
Lesson: Quit while you’re ahead.
Poor Lizzie encounters her own whale-on-the-wall in Mister Darcy’s Templars.
Today’s the Day!
To celebrate the release of Book 5 in the Mister Darcy series comedic mysteries:
#Giveaway: A signed paperback copy of Mister Darcy’s Templars (US only)
An eBook copy of Mister Darcy’s Templars.
Please leave a comment below to be part of the giveaway. The deadline is Saturday May 30th at Midnight. EDST.
With Love and Laugher!