September 24th, 2005

Why writers are never bored

In the midst of the turmoil surrounding the passing of one friend this last week, I forgot to talk about the living friend I spent last weekend with, jmlight. Jason is both a horror writer living in Oklahoma, and a megafan of Oklahoma's college football team the Sooners, so he flew out to L.A. last weekend to watch his boys take on UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Now I am - to put it very mildly! - not a sports fan. Of any sport. Football especially. Football to me has always been a bunch of thugs chasing a piece of pigskin around a lawn. But since Jason was willing to come all the way from Oklahoma (and fly for the first time, yet!), the least I could do was bite back my dislike and go with him.

(Jason in the Rose Bowl; the sea of red behind him is the Sooner fan assemblage)

And you know...I had a blast.

Hey, don't get me wrong - I'm still not a football fan. But the great thing about being a writer is that you can peoplewatch and grab ideas anywhere, and in a sporting event, where crowds are thick and passions are high, you're gonna do a lot of grabbing. Who cared about the scoring and the game? Here are just a few of the little dramas I enjoyed while there:

  • The Sooner Cheerleaders' 50-ish female coach who watched 'em like a proverbial hawk; I would NOT want to be a kid who made a mistake in front of her. (BTW, the Sooner Cheerleaders were incredibly sweet and innocent compared to the hip-thrusting nastiness of the UCLA squad.)

  • The two middle-aged guys who were already occupying our seats when we arrived (they never did produce actual tickets to back up their claim), who wrote copious notes in spiralbound notebooks throughout the game (I asked Jason if he knew what they were writing - he didn't).

  • The two drunken middle-aged women behind us who kept insulting an enthusiastic young man about four rows down (who couldn't possibly have heard them anyway).

  • The entire section of the arena that was completely empty, and for no apparent reason (we moved there in the second half, to get away from the drunken middle-agers and the note-takers). These seats were great - why were some tickets in other areas (possibly) double-sold but this entire section allowed to go empty? I smell conspiracy.

  • The guy sprawled alone in the empty section who was wearing nothing but frayed denim shorts. He had long blond hair, tanned skin, and was way too old (close to 40) to be sporting this look. I thought maybe he was a Rose Bowl employee, but he left and headed for the parking lot just ahead of us. What's his story?

  • And my favorite: The trophy wife on the arm of her hubby, tottering towards the Rose Bowl on 4-inch stiletto heels. If she was already having trouble just crossing the immense parking lot, I can only imagine how much fun the 2-foot tall concrete steps inside must have been for her.

I will use these bits in something I write in the future. I might even make any one of these scenes the basis for the entire story. Hey, I've done it before: "Pound Rots in Fragrant Harbour" (from The Museum of Horrors) and "Black Mill Cove" (from Dark Delicacies) are both based on experiences I've had while away from home. So, when you read that future story of mine about the trophy wife finally exacting revenge on the husband who's made here endure the Rose Bowl in 4-inch stilettos, you can thank my pal Jason Light. I do!