Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why I Should Have Written Prose Fiction When I Was 8

I'm in one of those Let's Get Rid Of Stuff moods that should always be exploited since they don't happen nearly often enough, and I spent a certain amount of this afternoon going through the pretty boxes that line the top shelf of my closet. I'd started thinking about those pretty boxes when I needed one of them a couple of days ago, having gone through two big boxes of stuff in my outside storage closet. I decided to keep some of the stuff in one of the pretty boxes, and I knew there was an empty one. I didn't find it until today though, when I discovered that inside the empty pretty box was a smaller equally empty pretty box.

Apparently, you can never have too many pretty boxes.

While I was going through some of the pretty boxes, I found a poem I wrote when I was8 and in 4th grade. My one vivid memory of 4th grade was I was desperate with desire to learn how to use quotation marks, since I knew my career was dependent on it, and my teacher refused to teach me. I have no idea why, since I was pretty cute, but she said there were grownups who didn't know how to use them properly, so there was no point teaching me. I dunno. Maybe she was one of those didn't know how to use quotation marks grownups herself. Anyway, when I told my father, he got really angry at the idea of a teacher refusing to teach a student something (I inherited my gift for righteous indignation from my father). Ultimately my big brother taught me how to use quotation marks, and they have been a big help to me professionally.

This poem doesn't have any quotation marks or need for them, but it is such a piece of fictional baloney (this being a G rated blog), that I decided to share it with you.

In case you don't feel like squinting, and with the utmost of embarrassment, here's the transcription:

The End of the Day

When evening has come
And father shall say
Now we will say the prayers
For this is the end of the day
After that's done we pop popcorn
Then we sing, dance, and play
Most of the things are more fun
at the end of the day

Susan Pfeffer
Nov. 29, 1956

For starters, we didn't say prayers at the end of the day. We said prayers (chanted them really) at Friday night dinner, but that's it, and that wasn't the end of the day. It was the start of the Sabbath. So my father never said anything about saying the prayers for this is the end of the day. For that matter, I didn't call him father. I called him by his first name, Leo, which would have scanned every bit as well as father, but would have cut down on the universality of the poem.

It is true that we sang songs after supper on Friday nights. But we never ever danced, and frankly, at the end of the day we were all a lot more likely to be watching TV than playing. Not that my brother and I (and my poor beleaguered mother) didn't play. My mother and I played endless rounds of my favorite game, Park And Shop, but mostly in the middle of the day.

And we never, ever popped popcorn. Frankly, I'm surprised I even knew popcorn got popped. In the summertime we roasted marshmallows, and I spent entirely too much of my childhood eating Wise Potato Chips, but we were not a singing, dancing, playing, praying, popcorn popping kind of clan.

It's all a big fat lie. And I, alas, am a big fat liar, the direct result of all those marshmallows and potato chips I ate in the beginning, middle, and end of the day!


Nina said...

What a hoot! I think you were just warming up for your fiction-writing career. And I agree that it is disgusting that a teacher would be averse to teaching something when a student shows valid intellectual curiosity (being a teacher myself, I just can't imagine it!). But those were the 50s, and I remember scratching my head at some of the things teachers did and said then.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Nina-

I was always warming up for my fiction-writing career. I'd committed to it in first grade,and rarely veered from the course.

My guess, based on the late November date, is that the poem was influenced by Thanksgiving stories, which no doubtedly were full of prayers, singing, dancing, and popcorn!

Anonymous said...

I came across your poem while looking up "pretty little boxes" on Google.

I love your poem! And your right, the best things happen at the end of the day! It doesn't matter that what you wrote wasn't exactly true to life. It's an artist's liberty to write what sounds, and more importantly what feels best! Children are the best artists because they write, paint, imagine what's in their hearts! I love it!