by Melodie Johnson Howe
In crazed moment I went to Bed Bath and Beyond (I never understood what the Beyond meant. Heaven? Hell? No Returns?) and bought some drapes for my office. I pounced on a wonderful silk stripe that looked like a man’s dressing gown from the 1930s-40s. Perfect!
Now the drapes are hanging across from my desk. And the fabric that looked like something Zachary Scott would wear while fixing himself a highball now appears like something out of the Addams’ Family Book of Interior Decoration. What was I thinking? Every time I look over my monitor there they are. RED, GOLD, GREEN, stripes garishly flaunting themselves at me.
Like editing your own writing, you have to know when you’ve made a mistake, gone off track. But there is always the possibility that it sill might work. My writer friend Kathleen Sharp and I were going for a walk, which means heading for Starbucks and sitting for an hour and a half talking. I had her come into my office to give me her honest opinion on the drapes. She gasped. Not a small sucking in of the breath but a loud inhale tapering off into a moan and ending in gales of laughter.
Finally she said, “Well, the concept is good.”
I know what that means. Your writing sucks. Or in decorator terms: “Take them down and burn them, you tasteless oaf.”
I have taken much criticism in my life and I could handle this. I would take them down and burn them.
That was two weeks ago. The drapes remain beckoning me like a Lothario, who is so slick he’s dripping oil, whispering, “You really mean ‘yes’ when you say ‘no’, Melodie. Let me fix you another highball.”
The drapes make me feel cheap. But they remain. I tell myself I’ll replace them when I find a fabric I reall y like, except I know this swag of a bad boy is slowly seducing me. I can hear my mother’s voice, “He’s not good enough for you. He only wants one thing. He’ll never amount to anything.”
Speaking of mothers, I wrote a play called “The Lady of the House.” It was produced in Los Angeles. Elizabeth, the mother, snaps at her daughter, “Décor is a necessity.” The audience laughed every time the actress said the line. It’s a great feeling to actually hear the response of an audience to what you have written. Especially when they laugh where they are supposed to.
I peer over my monitor and wink at my garish finger-snapping drapes and wonder if I really do mean “yes” when I say “no.”