Poetry/Prose

Inventing a Stranger (two assignments)

During a creativity workshop I recently attended, we were instructed to study a stranger at a cafe or restaurant. Here is mine:

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Image/editing credit: mine; subject at a favorite spot in Barcelona

Exercise 1: We were to look at our subject and imagine their body telling us a brief story about itself, as follows:

There was a time when I was very naive. The world was soft, and not much penetrated my skin. But then it all started. A fall down the stairs here, a trip along the sidewalk there … a food allergy, a motorcycle accident, a half-dozen surgeries.

There was a time when I didn’t understand the importance of all of my parts. Now, I do.

Exercise 2: We then were to invent a soul for this person, and give it a voice, as follows:

I’m a tender, open guy. But as you can imagine, life isn’t always so keen on my type. Even of women, it demands toughness–a ‘get over it’ kind of mentality.

I was a loner at school … luckily, I was not really hankering to integrate with other boys. Girls, on the other hand, always seemed to want to integrate with me.

Indeed, in many cases, what many men begged to have, for me came very easily.

Still, as I aged, I wanted to know what this tough guy gig was all about. I wanted to test myself, my masculine side. So I bought a motorcycle. It was love at first ride … a love that lasted, as many stories go, until I found myself flying 10 feet in the air, landing on my head.

Six surgeries and unspeakable bouts of pain later, I understood why cyclers were considered tough–the types who fought many battles in past lives.

I also knew I wasn’t one of them.

I must have been a scribe or horse tender. But I was hardly–at least in recent past incarnations–a man on a sword-based mission.

Nevertheless, I still needed to feel protected and strong inside myself, so I got into tattoos–designs with a bit of simple class and enough weight to say “keep out unless invited,” i.e., “no trespassing.”

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