By C.L. Beck
Have you ever noticed that once your friends realize you write, they think you can write anything? And everything? It’s a compliment, to be sure, and you have to love them for it. Or at least try.
Not too long ago, our Relief Society first counselor asked me to compose a Dr. Seuss-style poem commemorating our ward’s fifth anniversary. And it was supposed to last for twenty minutes.
Holy cow! Twenty minutes? Dr. Seuss style? Apparently she thought because I wrote a puny, little column that made me as good as Dr. Seuss. I would have seen it as flattering but I couldn’t see anything except the brown paper bag into which I was hyperventilating. When I was finally able to catch my breath, she also said she’d like me to narrate it. I got a bigger paper bag.
Once over the shock, my first order of business was to ask for help from my husband, Russ. Big mistake. This is the man who—when we dated in high school—used to drop egg rolls and a poem off at my door at midnight, after he got off work. The poems were artistic creations that said things like, “Pumpkin seed better than weed, and prune juice set you free.” To this day I have no clue what pumpkin seeds and prune juice have to do with egg rolls. But don’t tell him that.
You can see the problem with Russ’s help. His suggestions for the Dr. Seuss-style poem were off the wall ideas that made me laugh—his poetry always has that effect—but they were certainly not mature and sophisticated. If you had to classify them, they were more like the “drink a slug of root beer and belch” type.
It took a lot of help from on high—and I’m sure Theodore Geisel was turning in his grave—but some ideas finally gelled and the spirit of Dr. Seuss and I managed to pull it off. Not that it was great, but at least it rhymed … sort of.
The moral of the story is that if you’re going to write a column, use a pen name. Otherwise, you’ll have to live with the expectation that, because you’re able to string a few thoughts together, you’re Tom Clancy, e.e. cummings, and Ray Romano all rolled into one.
There is another alternative—keep your name and remind your friends that “turn about’s fair play”. And since they have a set of vocal chords, you’ll expect them to sing a solo from Rigolleto at the next ward party.