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Thread: Love me or Leave Me

  1. #1
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Love me or Leave Me

    Love me or Leave Me
    by
    Steven Hunley

    The man, totally under the influence, just finished taking a shower. You know, one of those showers you take after a haircut. Later he’d worry about picking out the proper clothes, and searching for the scent that would fit the situation.

    “This rose is just budding,” he said, as he wiped steam off the mirror with his towel, “There's a particular moment in the times and tides of men when you gotta take affairs seriously.”

    The Woman, in the same sense as Conan Doyle’s The Woman, knocked him dead the first time he saw her picture, the second time when they had tea at the fashionable shop in South Park, and like a good sleuth, he suspected she would do exactly the same thing, on Monday, when they walked the dogs near the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. He liked it when a woman made an intense assault on his consciousness, and this singular woman was equipped with a magnum of feminine style and grace, outfitted with a proper southern upbringing, displaying extensive amounts of panache and savvy.

    Her brown eyes sparkled like freshly-made Kava strained through exotic hibiscus flowers, poured into coconut shells born on islands thousands of leagues distant. And damn if her lovely eyes didn’t make him remember how he’d coveted her expressive mouth.

    Infatuation to this degree is impossible to measure, so off the charts to be scientifically compared to fission, which in his case was enough to heat the earth for a million years, fueled by his writer’s excessive imagination.

    He keenly noticed, while they were head to head at the tea shop, that her eyes caught his reconnoitering her exquisite form and wondered if she could perceive his wheels turning, working out masculine romantic strategic moves in advance, as if their first meeting was a game of chess. She proved to be educated, a quick study, and mistress of the game. He sensed she was winning and it threw him off balance. She must have felt his eyes touching her physically. Had she seen that she’d shaken him? He wasn’t quite sure.

    Men are plotters, with all their bravado, anxiety-ridden plotters. Lucky for them most of their plots fail.

    But when the steam was wiped off the mirror, and he drug the brush over his noggin, he grew alarmed. The barber did him dirty. He’d trimmed the hair too close to his skull and away from his ears! Oh my goodness, there they were, his Dumbo-like ears! OMG OMG, there they were!

    “Oh Jeez, have mercy, there they are again, both of them."

    So it’s true he needed a haircut and it’s equally true that Romero was new and it was obvious now that Romero’s idea of short and our hero’s idea didn’t match. But before our hero had time to panic, his ego-centric brain-filter kicked in, as a kind of reptilian survival tool.

    “If she doesn’t like my haircut, she can take a powder. It’s Love me or Leave Me, just like the song."

    She meant nothing to him, was but a pleasant diversion, a bagatelle, unimportant, insignificant, a trifle.

    In reality his knees were already weak, just considering the fact he knew he’d see her again, considering the fact he was head over heels. Considering the fact he was the neediest self-serving bastard on the face of the earth, and the greediest, and she was an emotional jewel.

    Taking into account he was an old broken King Solomon and she was a mature but still-radiant Bathsheba he considered himself lucky.

    Was there magnetism between them? I believe there was, a calm but unspoken magnetism of undeniably epic proportions.

    He wiped off the mirror farther down. There were his shoulders and his chest and his arms and hands. His hands weren’t so bad. In fact, according to women they were rumored to be magic. He still had a waist and you couldn’t see any lower, the sink and countertop cut off his view, but the overall impression was skinny. He’d didn’t much care for his soda-straw look, but his defensive brain portion took over again and saved him with the thought,

    “I’ll put on a few ounces every day before she notices, and besides, thin is in.”

    As long as it was in like Flynn, that was OK with him.

    She wrote that she’d dated tall thin men, during the Ice Age, back during high school when she wore short skirts and tall socks and Saddle Oxfords, and dressed like Betty in Father’s Knows Best, and he distinctly remembered his response.

    “It’s about time you started dating another slim customer.”

    So then in the bathroom it was a dash to the finish with the CVS/Pharmacy© toothbrush, the Crest tartar control whitening plus Scope minty fresh liquid gel toothpaste, followed by the Gillette series save gel or gel a raser for sensitive skin or peau sensible which lathered up fine, to the Schick© razor which lab tests proved stays sharper, to a cold water splash, followed by Bahama Balm Aloe Vera Gel with soothing Aloe Vera Extract for aftershave. Then it was the All-day Fresh Maximum Confidence Speed Stick with Active Fresh Deodorant by Mennen.

    Now it was time to get seriously serious. It was five-o’clock and she was due at five-fifteen. She was training him, much like a puppy, with her consistency. She’d be there on time; it was inevitable, since The Woman was a force of nature.

    Finally the piece de la resistance, the topping on his skinny masculine beefcake, 24 Karat Royal Musk. If you’re going to do musk, make it royal by all means, even if this is America, even if we’ve got no aristocracy.

    And when it made his final mirror-check at 5:10 he didn’t look like his regular every-day self at all, in fact he looked like….George Clooney.

    At 5:12 he grabbed a copy of his Penguin Classic Under the Greenwood Tree and sat down on the porch. Before his excessive imagination had a chance to get into gear, she was pulling up to the curb.

    It was Hemingway’s moment of truth, and Cartier-Bresson's decisive moment rolled into one, along with the reality check he badly needed.

    She saw his head. Her eyes dilated like crazy and he couldn’t help but notice the surprise reflected within. His ego popped like a balloon. But…

    “It’s not as bad as you made out on that story on Facebook,” she said. “I like it!”

    It was nothing, it was less than nothing. If he had written it, it would have been a throw-away line. And yet…coming from those Champagne-Kava eyes, expressed from that exquisite mouth, it thrilled him to the marrow as much as Crosby Stills and Nash.

    He gave a sigh of relief that was heard all the way in Balboa Park, all the way to downtown, all the way to Point Loma for that matter, which is the most southwestern point of the United States.

    And he realized, in a single moment, like Kurtz in Apocalypse, like he was shot...like he was shot with a diamond...a diamond bullet right through his forehead. And he understood for the first time in his life.

    “By the beard of the Prophet, it’s perfect, complete, genuine, crystalline, and pure. It’s truly true. Reality is better than fiction.”

    ©Steven Hunley 2013

    http://youtu.be/JB9VVTMiX1k Ruth Etting Love me or Leave Me

    http://youtu.be/JMbuJXQCIvo Crosby Stills and Nash Suite Judy Blue Eyes
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 10-08-2013 at 11:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    Great expressive build up to the moment. Love the alternative defensive views and self doubt weaved into his excitement. Too many 'knock her dead' in the first two paras IMHO.

    I'd use dragged instead of drug as well.

    Why don't you treat us with her version now?
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  3. #3
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Thanks Delta-yes I believe you're correct, there were too many knock 'em deads and they've been revised. But the drug stays and here's why:

    “Drug” is Dialect An internet pundit once wrote:

    "But it turns out that treating “drag” as an irregular verb and using “drug” as the past tense is common in some parts of America. Linguists call it dialect, which essentially means it's a language quirk shared by a group of people. Dialect can be shared by any group of people; for example, quirks can be shared by people who live in the same region, were educated by the same system, or inhabit the same social class.

    "Using “drug” as the past tense of “drag” is a dialect common to people who live in the southern United States, but linguists have noted that it is used frequently in states as far west as Nebraska. Strangely, they don't say anything about it being used widely in the West, where I've lived my whole life, so I can't explain why I was confused.

    Just Say No to “Drug”

    The quick and dirty tip is to just say no to “drug.” Its only standard meaning has to do with illegal drugs or pharmaceuticals. “Dragged” is the proper past tense form of the word “drag” when you're using it to talk about having pulled something across the floor. And when you're tired and stumbling into a room like a half-dead mouse, people who want to give you a hard time can say, “Look what the cat dragged in.”


    It may not be proper English but this is informal dialect so it stays. I'd like to do it from the woman's point of view, but at this point I have no idea what it is!
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 09-19-2013 at 08:01 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    In that case, I could see "drug" being used in the dialogue or first-person narration by someone with a consistent dialect, but used in the omniscient third-person narration, it's going to keep knocking people right out of the story.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  5. #5
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calidore View Post
    In that case, I could see "drug" being used in the dialogue or first-person narration by someone with a consistent dialect, but used in the omniscient third-person narration, it's going to keep knocking people right out of the story.
    According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, a dialect is


    A regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a variety differing from the standard literary language or speech pattern of the culture in which it exists.


    Delta is an Australian, and therefore as unfamiliar with Southern California dialect as I would be to hers down there. She's one heck of a good writer and I respect her ability to write authentically.

    That's the way people speak here. Surfers to college professors. So if a few people get knocked right out of the story I accept that. I'm not here to write what people think is "standard English". There is no standard English, and no one work can please every reader.

    It may knock a few right out of the story, but some other readers will associate with it for it's authenticity.

    Is what you're saying is that third-person narrators should be consistent, or speak with a certain consistent dialect?

    Actually what's happening her is that the narrator is code-switching.

  6. #6
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    It's an interesting point about the N using the dialect. I wouldn't have brought it up if it was part of the dialogue. Having said that, do you think the N'd voice was consistent enough to get away with it?
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  7. #7
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    You know I'm not sure. I suppose we expect consistency in our narrators. If this were a longer piece and had more narration, there would be a chance to enforce the narrator's code switching by large numbers alone. I guess most people expect a consistent narrator, but I have a suspicion not all of them are. I think the narrator should have a consistent point of view, but maybe not a strict vocabulary.

  8. #8
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    Well you've opened my eyes to possibilities at any rate.
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  9. #9
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Hunley View Post
    Delta is an Australian, and therefore as unfamiliar with Southern California dialect as I would be to hers down there.
    I'm a lifelong Chicagoan and so may be having the same problem. I've certainly never heard "drug" before. (My dad's lived in San Diego for 30 years now; I'd be interested whether he's heard that.) Maybe the problem to my ears isn't just that it's an unfamiliar use of a word, but that it actually sounds like a mistake.

    I think that's a significant part of it, actually. Lots of English or Australian or, say, American Southern word usage or expressions might go over my head, but I would still recognize the dialect for what it was. This storytelling doesn't feel like a dialect in the first place, which may be why that one word clangs in my ears.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Hunley View Post
    Is what you're saying is that third-person narrators should be consistent, or speak with a certain consistent dialect?
    Well, if the narrator in whatever person is actually a character with a reason to speak in dialect, that's one thing. But if the third-person narrator is simply the omniscient authorial/reader's eye, is there a reason for a dialect in the first place, or is it just the equivalent of unnecessary modifiers?

    I do want to stress that since this is purely an authorial style thing, I'm just offering the above as my own thoughts and opinions; I don't want it to sound like I'm making it a right-or-wrong issue or telling you what you "should" do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Hunley View Post
    Actually what's happening her is that the narrator is code-switching.
    What's code-switching?
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  10. #10
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Calidore-

    I see why it stuck out to you, as you're in a region where it's not common usage. Wikipedia says this about code-switching.

    "In linguistics, code-switching is switching between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Multilinguals—speakers of more than one language—sometimes use elements of multiple languages in conversing with each other. Thus, code-switching is the use of more than one linguistic variety in a manner consistent with the syntax and phonology of each variety.'

    So what we have here is a code-switching narrator. I didn't notice it, simply because I hear it used all the time, and I never considered there was any other way to say it! I'm not sure if it works, 'cause I don't want anything to be too distracting, but on the other hand I want the narrator to be comfortable and natural. So I can see your point, and it's a valid concern.

    This is an odd problem, and I appreciate all of your thoughts, and how you drew attention to this matter. I wanted the narrator to be close to the protagonist, so he could be authorative, so he had to be Californian and speak like one too.

  11. #11
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    Hi Steven,

    As for the drug debate, the fact that it has been flagged should make you take stock. I don't like it either. If you were putting the word in a piece of dialogue then your argument would have some weight. It's common to use dialect words in speech, Mrs Gaskell did it, after all, and even bad grammar is excusable in the spoken word because it illustrates a whole raft of information about character. But in the narration I feel you should be more careful. I also feel that you should pay a bit more attention to punctuation and tenses in the narrative voice. You personify the narrator with an I at one point and add a comment on the narrative regarding the relationship between the third parties. This means the narrator becomes a real person witnessing everything, even the internalisations of the male character. Don't do this. How does a person know what another person is thinking in real time? The best they can do is guess. When the "narrator is God," then that's different. God can still use a colloquial voice but I prefer my deities to use good grammar

    You should also pay attention to your tenses. You repeatedly confuse what should be past perfect with past simple. The lists of personal grooming products are tedious. Keep it simple, but if you must give us lists, then don't forget to use commas.

    Apart from that it was a fun read.

    Live and be well - H

    PS Oh, and what is your aversion to naming the principal characters about?
    Last edited by Hawkman; 09-20-2013 at 03:13 AM.

  12. #12
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    Originating in my stint (or one could say "sentence") in Academia, my understanding of the term "code-switching" has a sociological connotation regarding the vocabulary, grammar, and usage of one specific speaker of one native language. For example, an adolescent would use diverse "codes" appropriate for the context, depending upon to whom he was speaking: one way toward teachers and other "superiors," a different way toward his parents, and an entirely divergent way to his peers. The ability to adapt one's language according to different listeners is a sign of intelligence. For a more detailed explanation of how a person's language differs this way, refer to David Foster Wallace's essay, "Authority and American Usage (or, "Politics and the English Language' is Redundant'.)" I don't remember Wallace using the term "code-switching," but he describes the notion perfectly.

    Your story is enjoyable, but one of my pet peeves in short stories is finding a pronoun without an antecedent as the subject of the first sentence. Instead of "he," why not use a proper name or some kind of identifying description: "The young man looking for love," (or something better.)
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 09-20-2013 at 03:08 PM.

  13. #13
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Thanks Auntie, now he's the Man totally under the influence, and it matches The Woman, in the same sense as Conan Doyle's The Woman. Parallel sentence construction is good for continuity. (if you don't over use it) I thank you again for that one!

    Yes, this code-switching thing can be one language and changed for different listeners, (like the care-provider simple sentences mother's use to children, or even (according to some authorities) changing between two languages. And the definition grows even more fuzzy from there. Darn linguistics anyway.

    I don't use names, and as far as that goes I wouldn't describe them either if I could. (Obviously I can't) because the reader may just actually put themselves in one of their places.
    If I were to say she was a blond, all the woman readers who were dark-haired would not be able to associate with her. As it is I've labeled the protagonist skinny, which may alienate all of our more portly male readers. It always tears me up to do descriptions of characters without alienating certain groups of readers with different characteristics.

    She has brown eyes, therefore all the blue and green-eyed readers know for sure it isn't them!

    Skinny is skinny so all the Sidney Greenstreets out there know he isn't them!

    The products, the lists! What a pain in the neck they were. While getting ready one afternoon I realized how many products one uses, and believe me, there could have been more. Tedious! yes, tedious, getting ready for a hot encounter with a woman you're in awe of can be a tedious process!

    I stacked them all up on the table next to my computer. Read every one. What a pile, what a mess.

    Be happy I didn't tell the girl's side of it! The list would have taken 20 pages to list. Women readers, am I correct in assuming this?

    So the list is a reaction to commercialism, and productization. Is productization a word? If it wasn't it is now.

    There is an over-all something about this woman that evokes his imagination. If he could rationalize it or label it, he'd be fine. But when is a man so severely knocked on the head by a woman's beauty, or her feminine attributes, ever rational? He's only human.
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 10-07-2013 at 11:25 PM.

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    "Commoditization," maybe, Steve -- or the recent coinage which I detest: "monetization."

  15. #15
    Justifiably inexcusable DocHeart's Avatar
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    Hey Steven,

    It's always a great, great pleasure to read you. This one is a teensy-weensy jar full of teensy-weensy gems. Enough to decorate a more than decent necklace. The kind you'd need to save up for, for quite a while. The kind the Woman would think rather jazzy.

    The following, however, is that fukcin huge heart-shaped ruby which gets a chance to rest on her sternum:

    Men are plotters, with all their bravado, anxiety-ridden plotters. Lucky for them most of their plots fail.


    I've read a few of those from you and I look forward to them each time. You never disappoint.

    Some paragraphs are too convoluted for (drunk, stoned) non-native speakers such as myself, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating the way you portray how fantastic love can be. The man's feelings gradually intensify, at a pace that's both comfortable and effective.

    Keep being an artist

    The Artist Soon To Be Formerly Known as DH,

    DH
    Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine...

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