Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving thanks from a serial narcissist

I made this turkey for you.

"Really?" you might say. "It's wonderful. I'll pin it on my fridge or display it on my door."

Even though I'm only eight, it makes me smile because it's the right thing to do. But in reality, I expect it, because let's face it, I cut colored paper up like no one's business. And my turkey is better than anyone else's turkey.

Here's a news flash for you. Nothing has changed between those days and now. I see right through you so don't even hide.

If you're a writer...you're like me. You started by making perfect cut-out turkeys in your grade school class. That's how it starts. That's how you get indoctrinated into the system and told you're special. It's the other kids that ride the short bus.

Now that you're older, you drink chai or chocolate because either is the moniker of a sophisticated snob. But saying "chai" just makes you sound sophisticated. "Chocolate" doesn't have that effect.  You can thank Halloween for that because people give it away free to kids who dress up as a cow. There's no prestige in cows. Gateway has it all wrong.

You should thank a billion people in India for that. There's no sophistication to drinking chai in India as people consume it while wearing rags and riding on top of the train instead of inside it. But here in America, Starbucks can charge you $4.00 for a 20 ounce cup. Did you ever bother to ask yourself what $4 could buy you in India?
Liquid validation of your greatness.

No. Because you're a sophisticated snob like me. A morning for you, dear writer, upon the expectation of someone reading your words and leaving a comment may cause you to 'dirty' yourself. The brisk winds of winter usher in that crucial moment where you stare at the sign and say, "Not the usual chai today. I'm getting the chai charger (code for dirty chai)." All because the fifteen minutes you spent primping your hair is now ruined. COULD THIS DAY GET ANY WORSE?!

"Really?" asks the helpful coffee barrista (I like that word. It sounds so much better than clerk). "That's so...daring."

"I'm enslaved by nanowrimo and still have to stuff my turkey. I need 'daring.' It's a no holds barred day."

"What's a nanowrimo?"

HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY ASK THAT?!

Wait. Calm yourself. This person doesn't get you. If the wind hadn't ruined your perfectly-coifed hair, you'd answer. "I'm writing a novel," you smile and say.  And then you go to the restroom to fix your hair while annoying person makes your chai charger.

But maybe it's not as simple as a wonderful blend of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Maybe what you really want is Tazo because (and let's be honest) it's the best and you only deserve the best. That's why you own an iPhone. Because Apple tells you it's the best with their commercials and commercials never lie. And as for that clerk! They'd better not skimp on the espresso or you'll mooch even more off their WiFi access!

Revenge is a chai best served cold and on ice cubes and in a cup made from recycled plastic. I think Shakespeare said that.

But, and God forbid, what if it's a peppermint mocha day. The combination of refreshing mint and sweet chocolate in a red cup that tells you, "Yes, it is indeed Christmas. Ho Ho Ho and all that, lass." Because let's face it. You're a narcissist and you wouldn't know the season unless your publicist told you what season it was. And you don't need to be rich to have a publicist. If you know where to slum, you can get one for thirty bucks who can spell your last name right half the time. But you get what you pay for, and that's America!

So from one writer to you (who I expect to read everything I write, who I expect to purchase my books and shower praise upon me with five stars) have a great Thanksgiving!

I'll be back on Monday. Until then, frequent your Starbucks, down your chai and chocolate, conquer your nanowrimo, and remember the mantra of every writer: "My colored paper turkey is better than yours, and you better post it on your sidebar, dammit!"

And maybe think of a blogfest or two that nobody needs.

Adieu :)

48 comments:

Lisa said...

I enjoyed reading this word for word, or maybe I skipped a few :) Happy Thanksgiving Mike. Somehow I feel sad that Monday is next week, many days away.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

@Lisa: Monday can't get here soon enough. I gotta hit the road to visit mah parents and that's always stressful. Take care, Lisa.

Disclaimer: This post is supposed to be funny ye people of no funny bone!

mooderino said...

No Thanksgiving over here, Halloween is very low key (no dressing up, no candy), I have been on a train in India but not on the roof. Nice paper turkey.

mood
Moody Writing

N.Scott said...

You say ‘serial’ and I say ‘committed’. There’s nothing I appreciate more than someone going in all heart, the trademark of a good book if not a finished one. Have a great weekend.

T.D. McFrost said...

Laughed so hard at this. Has anyone ever told you how awesome you are?

I also want to say ('cause I didn't get to say it during the recent blogfest I missd out on) that you're definitely the person I'd miss should you stop blogging.

Elise Fallson said...

Happy Thanks Giving Michael. Hope your visit with family isn't as stressful as you're anticipating. Had to google "chai." I am not worthy.

Cindy said...

Funny yes, but I think I get the meaning of this post. Have a nice Thanksgiving. ;)

Deborah Walker said...

We English like a nice cup of tea. I'm not sure if we'd like a chai charger, is that the same as dirty chai?

This is very confusing. But I did like your turkey.

Is it Thanksgiving, yet?

Have a good one, Michael.

Brinda said...

I grinned while reading but also feel the jaded pulse of your mood. Thanksgiving and Christmas can stress me out sometimes, too.

Luckily, the bright spots make up for any disgruntled muttering I might do.

Hoping for some bright spots for you on Thanksgiving.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Thanksgiving really sucks for me this year because it's also my birthday. So I get to sit around my brother's crappy little apartment all day eating turkey (which I hate) and watching the Lions get pummeled by the Texans. But hopefully at the end of the day I can get in the whirlpool tub at the hotel and finally relax for 20 minutes.

Sarah Pearson said...

All I drink is English tea. Does that mean I'm not a real writer?
I think your coloured paper turkey is awesome :-)

Susan Oloier said...

Funny--yes. But poignant, too. Yes, we do have an inflated sense of self, don't we? I needed this post, Michael. I need some perspective in my life these days. Make the best of your Thanksgiving (I saw your comment above).

E.J. Wesley said...

"Liquid validation of your greatness." Hilarious--all of it. :-D

Happy Thanksgiving Michael!

Adam said...

have a nice holiday

Laura Eno said...

Why, yes, I did cut out perfect paper turkeys once upon a time. :)

Try to enjoy Thanksgiving, hold your nose up in the air as you pass by a Starbucks, and be sure to stuff your turkey with wild abandon.

Julie Daines said...

Ha! That was a great read. Good luck with NaNo! I'm doing it too and sometimes it gets the better of me! Happy Thanksgiving.

J. A. Bennett said...

lol! I guarantee my turkey is better than yours :P Happy thanksgiving!

D.G. Hudson said...

Perfectionist artists become writers, sometimes. Also, people who write scifi in the 6th grade for friends to read.

For that Starbucks coffee server, the name is 'barista' (my daughter was one for a while.(I like that title better than clerk, too)

Hope your Thanksgiving is a good one.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

@Moody: Oh you English folk...

@N.Scott: "Committed" could also mean insane. #justsayin' <==doh...my twitter hashtag from Sn00ki reared its ugly head.

@T.D.: Thank you sir. May your life never want for viagra.

@Elise: "Chai" just means "tea". It's funny to watch people order "chai tea" at Starbucks. It's like saying "tea tea".

@Cindy: There's meaning to my post? :P

@Deb: Yes, a chai charger is a dirty chai. I put that in to better play on the "dirty" I inserted earlier.

@Brinda: Thank you. I'm so glad one person finds me funny.

@P.T.: Were you in that movie "Hot Tub Time Machine?"

@Sarah: Zomgah you are back!

@Susan: I think writers are total narcissists.

@E.J. Thank you. I do my best.

@Adam: You too game boy.

@Laura: I'd love to stuff a turkey this weekend. I just need to find the right kind.

@Julie: I gave up on nano. But I cheer you on.

@J.A.: Oh you do do you?

@D.G.: Thanks. It was late when I typed it and I need an editor for everything. If you work for free, you're hired.

Stephen Hayes said...

That's a fine looking turkey I must admit. I enlarged it to try and read what's written on the tail feathers but can't make it out.

My childhood turkeys were usually drawn around my hand with red crayon wattle added to the thumb. Nothing to brag about although my mom probably has one hidden away in a box. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving if I don't talk with you before then. Take care.

Andrew Leon said...

But the really sophisticated drink spicy cocoa...
Have fun with your ham! I hope you're not stuffing it, because that would just be weird.

Briane P said...

I only understand about half the concepts in here because I only drink coffee that I get from a can that costs about $5 for 2 pounds of it. I make it in my $8 coffeemaker from Wal-Mart, the one that only works about 6 of every 9 days. It's usually a little gritty because I once lost my keys and Mr Bunches put them in the water reservoir where I didn't know they were for a week, so I drank key-flavored coffee, which if I understand your post I could charge the entire gross national product of India for if I only marketed it to writers.

I am going to invent a blogfest aimed solely at annoying you. I will call it OffuttFest.

Have a great Thanksgiving! Make some homemade Chex mix and fill up on that while you try to get the image of PT in a hot tub out of your mind.

Tanya Reimer said...

Thanks for the smile. We already had Thanksgiving in my world because we like to be first at weird things in Canada. But! I hope yours is wonderful and not tooooo stessssful.

Richard said...

Your cut-outs are right up there with Matisse's.

Callie Leuck said...

I adore this. It is hilarious. And now I want a dirty-soy-chai-latte, although I enjoy your phrase "chai charger."

Liz said...

Chai? Tazo? Peppermint mocha? Oh, Starbucks. Okay, I've heard of them. Never bought anything from them, but I've seen the place.

Tonja said...

Great post. I sort of feel insulted, but it was so well-written, I like it anyway.

Non-fat pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream (yes, I know that has fat) is the drink I deserve. Apparently there is a shortage of pumpkin spice...or is it helium?

Happy Thanksgiving. :)

Shay Lacy said...

Your post really messed with my mind. I must not be a real writer because I never made a perfect turkey, I don't drink chai, and I don't go to Starbucks.

And I thought, "Who is guest posting?" I scrolled up and down. "This can't be Michael." I scrolled some more, and sure enough it was.

J.L. Campbell said...

We're behind the times here and don't use terms like chai here. Coffee's the thing since we produce so much of it, but anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. Can you tell I'm tired. ;)

Enjoy your holiday!

Libby said...

Chai is fantastic, even if it is $4 and subpar fastfood coffeehouse chai. :)

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

@Tonja: I'm subtly poking fun at all writers. So I'm insulting all of us equally, myself included. Your reaction is as correct as anyone else's. But honestly...the moment we write anything down, we are doing so because we expect it to be read. That "expectation" is a narcissistic impulse. Any author saying otherwise is just lying to themselves.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

@Briane: Chai and chocolate is a vehicle to carry my message in this post. It's a poor person's drink in Asia. Here it's been dressed up and now occupies the same level of pretension as sushi (and which...let's face it...is nothing more than fish and rice). Since when did fish and rice become precious? But let's charge $20 for a roll.

My point in this post is that our industry is pretty ripe with pretension, and if we aren't careful, we can easily (as authors) become the epitome of the pretentious snob.

And don't tell me there aren't pretentious authors out there. I could name twenty without breaking too much of a sweat. But I'm not going there.

But this "post" of mine isn't meant to be a rant. It may straddle the line on insulting, but it's intended first to be humorous. I'm merely pointing out what I've observed in myself and others.

I think the key is to realize that I'm poking fun at all of us who take ourselves way too seriously. And in the end, I'm thankful for those who remain grounded and humble even if they are granted tremendous success.

laughingwolf said...

a gooder mike... :)

happy turkey day to you [as i sit here thumbing my nose, cuz we had ours LAST month!] :P

as for charbucks, nothing there but high prices and burnt coffee...

makes me a reverse snob; like i care lol

Helena said...

I kinda wish I could take myself so very seriously, and tell myself I deserve the best and that $4 Chai is the very least that I should have, and that I am so superior 'cause I'm a hotshot writer...

Ah well. In reality I'm addicted to cheap English tea I make myself, have given up on my hair, am always nice and polite to clerks,and am generally very humble 'cause I have so many reasons to be so.

Thanks for laughs, Michael. I hope you have a wonderful time with your family over the long Turkey Day weekend.

Jamie Gibbs said...

Love it :) I used to be a snobby chai drinker until I realised what I was doing and switched back to regular old coffee (I have a cappuccino now and again if I'm feeling in the mood for a celebration).

Jamie

L.G.Smith said...

God, they charged me $4 for an Americano at the movie theater the other day. What is the world coming to? I used to think my sophistication knew no bounds, but at those prices I may need to rein it in...temporarily at least. :P

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. :))

Catherine Stine said...

Very funny. Yes, American pretensions can be annoying.
I like my coffee black with no sugar and no frills. Have a peaceful weekend, and don't let anyone overcharge you for that chai!

Danette said...

The best jokes or humorous rants are always based on reality, yeah?

I have loved my chai since I went to India and there is nothing like it being served to you on a cool morning on the train after a long's night travel inexorably southward from Bombay (now called Mumbai) to Hyderabad. Disclaimer: I will occasionally pay $4.00 for one to relive that experience.

Happy Thanksgiving, Michael! Great post!

Dalya Moon said...

And though you ask for a chai, all you really want is something meaningful to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.

Post-apocalyptic fiction is fantasy, because in these small "families," each member is valued.

Just sayin'.

Alyson Burdette said...

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying your holiday weekend! :)

Milo James Fowler said...

Too much fun, Michael. I started drinking chai by accident, and I've loved it ever since -- but not at Starbucks. I buy my own blend and make it at home; over a dozen cups for the price of one!

Danette said...

btw: what does chai have to do with chocolate. Does Starbucks put chocolate in their chai? Chai means tea... (doesn't dilute the point though)
oh, and I saw this today but it was in the paper a few weeks ago so you may have seen it. It fit your post though so I thought it was worth passing on.
http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2012/11/10

tfwalsh said...

I liked your turkey:) Very cool. No thanksgiving here in Australia, but I still found your post funny:)

lbdiamond said...

LOL! Well there you go.

Hope you had a nice holiday.

Donna Hole said...

I've been out for a while and didn't get to properly praise your perfect turkey until now. I don't drink mocha's, chai, coffee or chocolate (well, rarely hot cocoa). I only drike Diet Pepsi in the mornings, and I drink it in a can so the mix is always perfect.

I missed this blogfest semi-on purpose. I'm on blog break, but there are so many special people I'd miss I was afraid I'd not list a few then I'd feel really guilty.

Hope you had fun with the parents :)

.........dhole

Mina Lobo said...

LMAO, Michael. :)

And le sigh - I *wish* it took me only 15 minutes to do my 'do. ;)
Some Dark Romantic

Theresa Milstein said...

I love chai tea and I know it's cheaper there. But what can I do? It would take me a lot of chai tea orders to save up for the plane ticket.

The Desert Rocks said...

Hope your Thanksgiving was nice Michael. Even though I'm a volunteer reading tutor at a school full of poor children near the Salton Sea, they still made me help make the turkeys. I had glue all over everything except the construction paper! Cute post. Glad I'm not really into Starbucks. They only offer soy milk and lactose free milk is readily available and tastes way better.