Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #118 (Variations on a Theme)

Note: This is another Crusty Pie post where the original is a bit lackluster. So, let’s mess around with it, shall we?

Original Take.

  Woman on the Right: “I really think highly of myself and therefore must wear this impromptu crown that I fashioned out of my grandmother’s dental work. Ignore the artistic mural behind me, where naked people appear to be doing primitive things. I don’t know what that’s all about and I just want a cocktail.”

  Man on the Right: “Dear Lord, help me get through this moment when I am surrounded by estrogen.”

  Woman on the Left: “I have no idea who these people are. I was just trying to find a bathroom, when this fool handed me a free drink. I’m not going to turn such a thing down, of course, because I clearly can’t afford a proper hair stylist, let alone a premium cocktail. Still, I really need to pee, so I hope we can get this done and I can move on.”

  Bartender: “None of these people are going to tip me, I can just sense it. Nobody ever has any respect for people in stupid hats. Just ask the Pope.”

Rewind, Take Two.

Woman on the Right: “I just slept with Donald Trump up in his penthouse! Of course, I had to take a number, but the line moved much faster than it does at Sol’s Deli.”

Man on the Right: “I used to sleep with women after Donald had slept with them, but I just couldn’t keep up. Of course, rumor has it that he actually just watches, but I was paid by his lawyer not to share the video.”

Woman on the Left: “I’m sure I’ve given birth to at least two women who will eventually sleep with Donald. He’s making America amoral again!”

Bartender: “Wait, Trump owns this building? I better cash my paycheck before he files for bankruptcy again.”

Rewind, Take Three.

Woman on the Right: “Hi, I’m a blogger and I just got 47,000 hits on my last post about where to find the best eyeliner in Topeka, Kansas. Thank you for inviting me to this independent-authors convention where the organizers are just making money off the dreams of people who don’t really have the money to spare.”

Man on the right: “Oh, honey, you should be at the Holiday Inn next door. This is the Ritz Carlton, where the five remaining mega-huge publishing houses are celebrating the fact that we can still make millions by only accepting formulaic novels written by formulaic writers who follow our formula.”

Woman on the Left, laughing and nudging Man on the Right: “Isn’t it absurd how these independent fools think they can actually make a difference by writing something fresh? This reminds me of those wretched years where poor people in this country thought their vote actually mattered until the Supreme Court started stripping away voting rights in order to appease their sponsors.”

Bartender: “I never pay any attention to politics. Of course, that’s probably why I still work for a minimum wage that is below the poverty level. I fully admit that I’m one of these people who likes to complain but never does a damn thing about it.”

Rewind, Take Four.

Woman on the Right: “I’ve been standing in this position for a long time and my arm is getting tired. I’m starting to think that The Writer is just throwing dialogue on the wall to see what might stick.”

Man on the Right: “I’m guessing you’re new here. I’ve been a guest at Bonnywood Manor for decades, and The Writer has always been the same, fumbling and poking and prodding until a few of his words show some semblance of life. But the bar is always well-stocked, so I keep renewing my membership.”

Woman on the Left: “Wait, are you serious? The Writer actually thinks he has something to contribute to society? That is so rich, just like my ex-husband was until the divorce.”

Bartender, inner voice: “One day I will get you, my pretties. One day. Because something is brewing in me that is hopefully the next Great Novel and not just a gastrointestinal disturbance.” Bartender, outer voice: “Should I refill the bowl of peanuts?”

Rewind, Take Five.

Woman on the Right, slipping into Charades Mode because that always happens when the octane level is high enough in the beverages: “Okay, let’s do movie titles that best explain The Writer’s writing style. Go!”

Man on the Right: “Lawrence of Belaboring.”

Woman on the Left: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Film Festival.”

Man on the Right: “Gone with the Mind.”

Woman on the Left: “The Plot-Father.”

Man on the Right: “Sunday in the Park with Gorge.”

Woman on the Left: “Romeo and Who He Let Fail.”

Man on the Right: “101 Inflammations.”

Woman on the Left: “The Wizard of Pause.”

Bartender, throwing the bowl of peanuts on the floor: “Fine. I’ll just let myself out.”

Woman on the Right: “I don’t think I’ve seen that movie. What the hell is he talking about?”

Man on the Right: “I’m telling you, this is what we get all the time at Bonnywood. He throws out some weird crap and we all politely click ‘like’ and hope that tomorrow will be a better day.”

Woman on the Left: “How sad. I wonder what happened in his childhood that made him be this way.”

Man on the Right: “Well, he’s posted about being raised in Oklahoma.”

Woman on the Right: “Oh, the poor thing. No wonder he was wearing that stupid hat.”

Woman on the Left: “Tragic, really. Say, do you think those peanuts on the floor are still good? Two-second rule?”

Previously published, revised far more than it should have been, over the years. This is what happens when Oklahoma writers are left unsupervised for too long…

41 replies »

  1. Original take – Yes.
    Rewind two – No!
    Rewind three – Maybe??…
    Rewind four – Not without an expert in CPR.
    Rewind five – There are not enough peanuts in the world to entice that elephant in there. 😉 😆

    Liked by 2 people

    • So, just to make sure I get the takeaways right about my writing, I should leave the originals alone, limit the penthouse-promiscuity, possibly stop fussing about how hard it is for independent writers to stick the landing, refresh my CPR skills (clear the passage first!), and feature a legume that has more fetish-attraction than the lowly peanut?

      Got it. I’ll call a staff meeting at Bonnywood so we can work on a new business model. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

        • This is Dallas, so the Krispy Kreme dispensaries are forced to stay open 24×7, due to state-sanctioned mandates. The “powers that be” (and yes, read that as “The Trumpicans”) realize that the only thing that successfully keeps the common people from reading an actual news story from a reputable source is the distraction of sugar-laced round things they can shove in their mouths. (And yes, read the “hole in the middle” of said round things as “sugared-tongue-in-cheek irony”…)

          Liked by 1 person

    • Well, “Woman on the Left” is clearly a conservative (which really means she should be standing on the right, yes?) so she’s on the more-restrictive end of the scale. At Bonnywood? Five seconds is fine. Hell, ten seconds is just as fine, especially if no one is looking… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm. Well, I’m just getting to know you, so I’m not quite sure where to go, so how about this… Nice Lady That We Can’t See in the Photo But She Really Was There: “I’m sure we’re all special in our own, unique ways, so let’s focus on something fun and festive instead of being rude and throwing peanuts all over the place”…


    • I would imagine that many of the folks who used to belt out showtunes in Oklahoma no longer live there, just like me… 😉

      And yes, I fully fess up to being cynical about the current state of publishing. It’s not what it used to be. Then again, most companies are not, as they have been sucked up into the huge conglomerates that now rule the world, and most things have been reduced to formula, formula, formula. And more formula…

      Liked by 1 person

      • The answer to the first question is too freaking funny. Thank you for giving me an actual *guffaw* this evening. I probably need an antacid now.

        Yes, I guess formulae are the thing but weirdly that is what a lot of readers seem to want. Or 50 Shades of Lots of Sex and Bad Writing as it climbs up the book charts. Ugh….vapid writing. Even Indie writers are doing things according to formula. I like to think there are good books being written and published. I like to think that I’m reading some of them. Any recommendations?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed, there is certainly still some great writing out there, both mainstream and independent, so my cynicism is a bit over-inflated.

          I could certainly recommend some books, but I’m not certain what your interests might be. On your blog, you have reviewed a wide array of genres, but I’d like to pick a theme or style that is warmest in your heart. Some pointers?

          Mildly-related note: Since you DO read so many books (I do as well, a number far higher than what my yearly reading stats show on Goodreads, because I keep forgetting to update that mess), I was wondering if you could help me out. Years ago, I read a book that I believe was called “The Button”, with the cover featuring just a tiny red button on a white background. (It was in digital format, and I THINK that was the only option at the time.) It was one of those books that turned into a joy, where you aren’t sure if you like it at first, but there is an obvious charm and cleverness. You stick with it and it increasingly wins your love. Without revealing too much of the plot, let’s just say it concerns an oddball relationship that turns into something else entirely for both parties.

          The book has stayed in my mind all these years, with the full intention of reading it again. Trouble is, I can no longer find it. It’s not on any of my devices and I can’t find anything on the Internet, not even a wisp of its existence. Have you ever encountered such in your reading journeys? Ring a bell at all?


  2. Souvenir ‘cast’ assignment.

    Woman on Right (who is clearly high on something, and it ain’t alcoholic. That’s just for dessert) is channeling Queen Elizabeth (no offense to the Queen, like she’d care about what I say) in her salad days when ‘ruler’ meant something besides ‘tyrannical gasbag with too much privilege’. I have no idea if the Queen or assorted Royals (besides Harry who proved that was TRUE) are like that, I’m merely a countrified Yankee in Queen Arthur’s Court..

    Fat man being clung to by laughing girl: He is channeling an unholy melding of Alfred Hitchcock, HG AND Orson Wells, as well as Marlon Brando and Raymond Burr (the later years). He’s wondering how that ditzy limpet attached herself to him and whether he can get ‘lucky’ if he keeps pouring alcohol down her gullet.

    Rather Faded Looking Woman Far Left: Every “B: list blonde actress from the 1950s. She’s just happy to be included at all by her tiara wearing overly vivacious friend. Alfred/Orson/HG, Marlon and Raymond are all wondering if they might get a threesome out of the deal..

    Bartender (who is Bill Murray’s great uncle twice removed. From Oklahoma or Utah, one o’ them rather close knit places 😉 ) Is merely embarrassed that he misread the memo about the fancy dress party. He thought they had put down St. Patrick’s Day, when it in fact was just more drivel about how hard he had to work for his meager salary. He’s taken that salary business up with Bob Cratchitt’s attorney about whom he’s heard good things,

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is so much going on with your comment that it’s deliciously dizzying, but I’ll try to hit the most-savory bits, in my twisted way…

      Yes, the woman on the right is clearly under the influence of something rather high-octane. Nobody in their right mind should be THAT happy about merely extending their hand. And I didn’t notice until now that there’s nothing IN that hand. I originally thought she was shoving her empty glass at the Irish bartender. Everyone in this bar should be very concerned about her dark intentions, but they won’t be. Because it’s a bar.

      I’ll plead the Fifth on my thoughts concerning formerly-svelte folks who have since grown rotund, so as not to incriminate myself. I don’t know what happened. Well, I do, but I still pretend that it was not my fault…

      In a way, almost all of us are faded B-List (C-list?) actresses from the 1950s. We had a brief moment of promise in our early years, then nada. We tried, and it didn’t happen. But we still scribble about it in our furtive diaries (or public blogs) to this very day…

      You are spot on with the bartender, in that I seriously ALMOST did a Bill Murray reference. But I couldn’t quite work out the mechanics, and you know I’m all about making it mildly real even when my whimsy boomerangs across the board. Just like this comment… 😉


  3. You restrained yourself after Rewind Five even though more is spinning in your head. The snapshot is sad because the glimpse of background characters confirms the scene’s fake joviality when on camera. The mural is a perfect backdrop to convey a more uncomfortable essence for the foreground characters.


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