Thursday, January 19, 2006


Preface: Like Circus, which we previously posted here, this narrative sample was written for a project to teach middle schoolers different styles of writing (narrative, descriptive, expository, etc.). Obviously, thinking outside the box was required. We were to, in 500 words or less, answer the tag line: "Tell about a time when you were lost."
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"Young man, I’m going to have to ask you to remove your bathtub from the calendula officinalis."

Now that’s not a request that you hear everyday, but I responded with as much eloquence as I could muster. "Huh?"

"The marigolds. You must extract yourself and your tub from our garden – immediately! And PLEASE put on some clothes, or I shall be forced to call security."

I’m not sure whether it was the smell of the marigolds or the recognition that only a few fragile soap bubbles stood between my nakedness and the Ladies Auxiliary Horticulture Society, but I began to realize that something had gone terribly wrong.

"What in heaven’s name are you doing here anyway?"

I wanted to say, "Taking a bath, what does it look like I’m doing?" But instead, I settled for a quivering lip and the equally witty, "I think I’m lost".

It was probably more draft than genius that caused the quiver, but the ladies couldn’t resist it, and their tone shifted. "Poor darling! Perhaps we can help. Tell us what happened."

"Well," I stammered. "I don’t know. I’d just rinsed the shampoo out of my hair, and when I opened my eyes, here I sat, tub and all."

Turning away, they huddled together whispering and peeking back at me. Things seemed to be going nowhere, and my hands were getting all pruny, when a gruff-looking gardener wielding some shears stepped out from behind a topiary.

"What shampoo were you using?" he demanded in a husky voice. I suddenly felt defensive. What difference could this have possibly made? "C’mon, c’mon, which one?" I reluctantly plucked the bottle from the edge of the tub and handed it to him.

He wiped the damp, sticky bottle with his shirtsleeve and examined the label front and back. "Yep, just as I thought," he said after a few uneasy moments. "Why were you using this?"

"I just wanted to thoroughly clean and condition my hair without unnecessary build-up or unsightly flakes," I blurted. "Is that so wrong?"

"Is this your mother’s shampoo?"

I hesitated, but then decided to come clean. "Maybe. What makes you say that?"

"Because it’s called Exotic Garden Escape, and it smells like lilacs."

Busted. "Well you see, mine was all gone and… and…"

"Oh, stop whimpering, this is a no-tears shampoo. We just need to get you out of these flowers and back home."

"But how?"

"Very simple. You gotta actually follow the instructions on the back of the bottle."

If possible, I felt even more ridiculous as I reclaimed the shampoo from the earthy man and read its label. "Lather, Rinse, Repeat."

"You see, in your haste, you not only used an advanced formula product that you weren’t ready for, but you also overlooked the most important step in proper hair care. We’re gonna be able to get you home this time kid, but your carelessness has already done serious damage to your hair and some beautiful marigolds. In the future, please bathe responsibly."


codepoke said...

What a riot.

Seriously, I don't feel like a stodgy old man, and then I read one of your little writing exercises. I would have written about the time I was lost as a kid.

Now I'm bummed.

P&S said...

Had to replace the narrative with our most recent version.

codepoke said...

Still beyond excellent. I think I like the old lady better than the gardner, but funny is funny.