|Figure 1. You see some pretty interesting stuff if you slow down a little bit|
Being a writer means I don't have to go anywhere on the regular. Except the library. And the grocery story. And my kid's school. I wear a pretty nice groove between all those boring places. You'd think having such a predictable life would mean that I lack ideas for stories. But it's not actually true.
Because, while I'm not an idea factory like some writers I know, it really doesn't take much for me to start cooking up a story idea. It usually starts with a question or a character with a particular problem I've never had. Sometimes a song will make me think of an old memory and I'll wonder, what if.
Sometimes, though, I get lucky. I see something in the little groove routine of my life that fascinates me like nothing else and I can't get it out of my head.
Perfectly Good White Boy started with one such lucky image.
I was driving home (from Target? from the bank?) in my usual way. It was around dinner time and it was spring and the sun was out, expansive in that luxurious way that spring brings after a long Minnesota winter. I was driving past the high school by my house and going slow - I'm a rule follower and the school zone sign says 20 mph - when I saw it.
Right behind the bleachers. A boy and a girl, standing there, holding their athletic bags. Wearing their practice clothes. One of them had a water bottle. They weren't alone - there were kids still on the soccer field, kids running around the track, kids waiting on the sidewalk for rides, talking on their phones - but they were apart from everyone else.
And I slowed down, even more than 20 mph, because I could sense something - maybe I've got some kind of voyeur's sixth sense? - and that was just when the guy grabbed the girl and kissed her.
I nearly braked! I was so surprised and delighted! I saw the girl wobble a bit - she was also surprised. But then they kept kissing, and holding their bags and balancing the water bottle, and I wanted to stop. Park the car. Jump out and say, "Was that your first kiss? Was that what I just saw?" I wanted to grin and congratulate them for being so cute. I wanted them to go to Prom. I wanted them to grin back. I wanted to know what they'd do afterward. Would they call their friends and tell them the whole story? I wanted to know what made the boy do it.
But of course, because I'm civilized, I kept going 20 mph, kept driving home. Kept wondering what those two kids' story was. And since I'll never know, I built one for them on my own.