Monday, September 19, 2011

"It Takes All Kinds"

Here’s an unusual thing for a writer to reveal:

I am almost entirely lacking in imagination.

It’s not like I wouldn’t like to have the ability to craft soaring scenarios entirely out of the air. It’s just not what I do. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say, I cannot make anything up.

I look back on the toast I gave at Anna and Colby’s wedding (posted September 6), which went on, to positive effect, for close to ten minutes. Yet, virtually none of it was the product of a rich and fertile imagination. The toast’s contents, instead, derived almost entirely from observation and perspective, and the selection of specific incidents and descriptives.

Imagination had nothing to do with it.

Let’s deconstruct the toast, and see how much of it is simply the facts.

My first comment concerned the wedding preparations: “I played my part in sprucing up the festivities. I bought a new net for the basketball hoop in the driveway.”

That’s exactly what I did. And the only thing I did.

I then “umbrellaed” my “Anna Stories” under the structural headline: “Bonding Moments”, chronicling three reminiscences, all of them true.

Did they hand newborn Anna to me directly after she was born?

They did.

Did I dump her, I mean, drop her off at the “newborn room”?

As quickly as I could.

Did newborn Anna cry so loud, she was almost immediately handed back to me?

The girl was barely out of my arms.

(Did the other newborns take a vote and throw her out of the room? No. Newborns can’t vote. But it was apparent that the hospital nurses, channeling the newborns’ wishes, had voted on their behalf.)

Did Anna tumble off the toilet during “potty training” and land on her head?

She did.

Were we subsequently called to a conference with Anna’s Kindergarten teacher, who reported Anna’s alarming deficiency in her ability to use a scissors?

We were.

(The connection I made between the fall and her condition, asserting that “the fall had irreparably damaged the ‘Scissors Function’ in her brain” is admittedly speculative, but hardly beyond the realm of possibility.)

Did I require Anna and myself to cross the freeway on foot, to get to the carousel on the Santa Monica Pier?

I did. And as I said, “It’s a great ‘Bonding Moment’…if you make it.”

Am I concerned that this insanity might evolve into a family “rite of passage” – “My father dragged me across this freeway; now it’s your turn”?

I am hopeful it won’t, but she is her father’s daughter.

I then bridged to my “Colby Stories” through the idea of “big transitions” using, again, an actual experience, in which, on the day we were leaving Freshman Anna behind at college, I did, indeed, step on an expensive pair of sunglasses, and brush my teeth with Ben-Gay.

Was my first encounter with Colby announced by a last minute “heads up”?

It was.

Did my “vigorous vetting process” of Colby abruptly end when I realized that “he listened and he laughed”?

That’s all I needed to know.

Was I once mesmerized, watching Colby, folding a sweater with infinite care and “engineering precision”, thus learning two more things about Colby – “He’s responsible and he’s neat”?

The guy was amazing. The only feat I’ve seen rivaling that tour de force was waiter in a fancy restaurant in Florence masterfully “boning” a fish. Both performances were wonders to behold.

Is Colby, at six-foot four, “a welcome addition to the Pomerantz gene pool”?


Which was followed by my one joke:

“Six-foot four is a Pomerantz standing on a chair.”

I went back and forth on that one, but it was too good to exclude.

A ten-minute oration. Entirely lacking in magnificent flights of fancy brilliantly conjured by the finest imaginations, which, for better or worse, does not include mine.

I simply don’t have those skills.

Or, going slightly deeper, maybe I do have them, but feel uncomfortably using them.

I once wrote a comedy piece for a Lily Tomlin Special in which a politician is strapped to a “Lie Detector” device, and every time he utters statements that are less than truthful, a buzzer goes off, repeatedly, until the lying weasel finally comes clean.

I strongly identify with that situation. Somewhere inside me, I believe that, if what I say – or write – is not entirely factually accurate, an intrusive buzzer will go “Ehhh!!!” exposing me as a prevaricator and a fraud.

So I stick exclusively to the truth.

Does it limit me creatively?


But it’s the kind of writer I am.


Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; verisimilitude is the hallmark of your work, eh?

"The Puck Crisis" completely fooled me when I first saw it. It was done so much like a documentary, and was on the CBC, to my nine year old brain it just had to be true. After I'd grown up a bit and saw it again in rerun I knew it was a spoof but it was a delicious one for my young mind.

Truthiness can be funny if it done without a smirk or mugging for a laugh. Please tell Mr. Colbert this if you're in touch with him. I know he does a very good job but every once in a while the fourth wall comes down and the effect is ruined.


p.s. It is a shame that I cannot find a video of "The Puck Crisis" to show my friends and family. As far as can tell this quirky gem is not available online, and I don't think the CBC ever released the show in any other media.

Earl Pomerantz said...

I believe there's a copy in my mouth, given to me by my brother. If you're in the neighborhood, ring the bell, and I'll show it to you. If I can find it. Otherwise, I'll just show you my back yard. It's really quite beautiful.

Earl Pomerantz said...

I said "copy in my mouth." I don't know what that means. I mean, a "copy in my house." Although I don't know where it is, and I've never looked in my mouth. So, maybe.