My goal this year is to get through a read-through and edit of my first draft of my next novel. Some writers love this process. I find it about as much fun as dental work. I know when it’s finished I’ll like where it led, but the process is painful. Editing fills me with doubt. What was I thinking? Is any of this good? I should just quit now while I’m ahead. Forget these 60,000 words and start over.
Every once in a while, I find a gem. It might be just a paragraph; maybe a page; sometimes just a bit of dialog. Like this:
“Remember before we had elastic?”
Oh Lord, I know what’s coming next. She’s going to talk about underwear.
“Remember how a gal could be just walking down the sidewalk or standing in line at the grocery store, and, ping.” She makes a vibrating sound, pulling her tongue to the roof of her mouth. “The rubber band broke and down came her panties.
I feel my neck prickle when Loretta says panties, emphasizing the “T” overly distinct. I don’t know why that word bothers me, but it does.
“Someone told me the British have a tidy word for underwear. Smalls,” I say. “I like their tendency for understatement. Or we could just say underthings.”
Loretta throws her head back, her curls bouncing as if to accent her complete delight.
“Okay, okay. Smalls it is,” she says. She draws small out into two syllables and flutters her eyelashes. “Did someone’s smalls ever go down when you worked at the bank?”
“Plenty of times. A woman would just be standing there, prim and proper as can be, and all of a sudden I’d hear a yelp like a mouse ran across her shoe. She’d jump, quick grab her underthings, I mean smalls, and bolt for the door in complete and utter embarrassment.”
I particularly like this little bit of forgotten history. I wonder how we’d adapt our behavior today if we thought at any moment we could be exposed and vulnerable.