October 16, 2013

little laura embraces the theater - part ii

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 14: Party at My Place! - Part II
Date: Spring 2000
Age: 13

(Continued from Part I)


Setting: April's house at 7:00 p.m.

Dani: The guys are here!
Val: Yay! I can't wait to see Markus.
April: You all wait here, and I'll let them in.
(At the door, April's Dad has already answered it.)
Dad: Oh... hi Markus. You're the one who calls all the time. You are from Austria, right? Roberto, you were born in Mexico, weren't you? You're dating Dani. You're the starting quarterback for the high school football team, right Josh. You and Manda are dating. Oh... so you're Drew, the one April -
April: Hey guys! Glad you could come. Thanks for letting them in, Daddy.
Dad: No problem, April. You kids have fun and stay safe.
April: Sure, Daddy. Thanks for coming, guys. Sorry about my Dad, he just gets excited sometimes.
Drew: That's okay. He seems like a great guy. I bet he loves you a lot.
April: Yeah, he does.
Roberto: Well... let's go party.
Narrator: Two and a half-hours later, Val had surprised everyone by asking Markus out first. After recovering from the shock, Markus said yes and Val and Markus are now dating. Everyone is now either talking or dancing to the music.
Drew: Hey April, do you want to dance?
April: Sure Drew, I'd love to.
Narrator: After dancing quietly for a few minutes, a slow song started and Drew decided to break the silence.
Drew: So, great party.
April: Yeah, I'm glad that everybody could come.
Drew: So... are you seeing anyone right now?
April: (sarcastically) Of course, I'm seeing you and about half a dozen other people at the moment.
Drew: Funny April, very funny. Would you mind laying off the sarcasm for a couple of minutes. You're cuter when you're not trying to be cynical. It doesn't suit you, or at least I like you better with out it. (April looks surprised briefly) You know what I meant. Are you dating anyone?
April: No... are you?
Drew: No... well not yet anyway. I still need to ask her out. By the way how do you think I should ask her? How would you want to be asked out?
April: (looking slightly hurt) Ohh... um... why don't you just be straight forward and ask her. (long akward pause) Is she anyone I know?
Drew: I'm pretty sure you do.
April: Oh, well who is she? (looking slightly interested)
Drew: She's the girl I'm dancing with right now.
April: (absently) Oh that's nice. Wait, you mean... me?
Drew: Of course, who else would I possibly want to date? So... will you go out with me? You know, hook up, make it official?
April: Wait a minute, you've been talking to Markus. I'm going to kill -
Drew: (interrupting) Never mind that. He only told me that to reassure me. I've been wanting to forever but was always scared to.
April: Are you serious?
Drew: I've never been so serious in my whol life. So will you?
April: Yes... I've been hoping you'd ask me since 7th grade.
Drew: I've been needing to ask you just as long.
April: Really?
Drew. Really. Definitely.

(They stop dancing, and kiss.)

Narrator: Everyone remained dating until the end of high school. Manda and Josh were named prom queen and king. April, Drew and Val were their class valedictorians. Roberto and Dani went their separate ways. Roberto Martinez is a best selling author. He is married to a lady named Anja. They have no children and live in Tucson, Arizona. Danielle Ronin is a top notch lawyer. She is single. She lives in Albercuque, California.She recently adopted a little girl from Japan and named her, Faith. Markus and Val went their separate ways, too. Markus Fritzenheimer is an award winning European actor. He is currently single. He lives in Vienna. Dr. Valerie Smith-Reginald became a youth psychologist. She is married to a guy named Ronald. They live in Aspen, Colorado with their two year-old daughter Phoenix. Jared and Manda got married soon after high school ended. Josh Johnson is a pro football player for the New York Mets. Amanda Baker-Johnson is a model in New York City. They live in New York, New York with their two sons Ronald (4 years) and Edgar (2 years). April and Drew went their own separate ways after high school as well. April went to pre-medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles. Drew went to pre-law school at University of Georgetown. Later, they both continued their education in Boston, Massachusetts. Drew went to Harvard Law, while April went to Harvard Me. Currently Andrew Allan is a lawyer. His wife, Dr. April Lindsey-Allan is an obstetrician gynecologist. They live in Concord, Massachusetts with their daughter Lynn (2 years) and twin sons James and Justin (6 months). As you can see, in this case, they all lived happily ever after.

Give me a second before I… deal with this. Don’t laugh. No. Wait. Can’t. Hold. Back. The. Mirth. Oh, Hell…

Bwahahahahaha hahaha hahahahahahahaha (breath) hahahahahaha hahahaha. Hahahahahahaha hahaha ha (hiccup)…Or wait... how did you put it? "Ha ha ha (laugh uncontrollably)."

Pardon my lack of professionalism, but what the heck was that thing we just read, Little Laura? Do you have any concept of what you’re writing about or how you’re going about it? I know this was only an Eighth Grade English assignment, but…

Let’s establish some background.

Little Laura was in eighth grade and had recently discovered the world of co-ed parties. No, I’m not talking about the epic keggers featured in every teen movie that came out in the 90s and early 00s. We’re also a step up from a McDonald’s Playland birthday party, but just barely. These co-ed parties usually revolved a group of kids getting together in someone’s basement, ordering a bunch of pizza and drinking way too much Mountain Dew. We'd talk about our favorite member of 'NSYNC (J.C. Chasez -- duh) and who the hottest actor in Hollywood was (Freddie Prinze Jr., obviously.)

If we were really going to get crazy, then maybe there might be a little spin the bottle action. (But no tongue - gross!)

I know. Thrilling. Little Laura’s middle school experience was like 2 percent – wholesome, good for you, but not really something you write home about. Just wait till we get to the high school years. You know crazy things had to be going on while I was sporting my band uniform.

Those uniforms are sex-ay.

Basically, what we’re dealing with in this story was an idea that got away from itself. Little 2 Percent… err… Little Laura spent a few too many lunches talking the play over with her besties and deciding what friends would make an appearance – and the alter egos we’d use for them. (I’m April, obviously, which sounds like Laura, because…)

Figuring out what inside jokes they wanted to include. (Fanacho was something we used to describe hotties. Delenitos was reserved for losers. And smarmees… I’m kind of at a loss for that one.) Forget about alienating most of your readers.

Discovering who would find love and with who...

Little Laura had discovered romance novels the year before. Henceforth, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any LL writing that doesn’t involve a heavy romantic subplot. Because obviously love is the only thing to write about. (Isn’t that right? Grown-up Laura operates under the same understanding.)

Way to set yourself up for future disappointment, by the way, Little Laura. Drew. Can we say too good to be true? It hurts me to imagine the ways boys and men (as opposed to Boys 2 Men) will let you down in your future. Poor, simple, girl. You don't even have a clue.

And because Little Laura was making her way through every Highlander/Middle Ages/Gothic romance novel she could get her hands on, there obviously had to be a dude with an accent.

The accent had to be from a German-speaking country, because she was in first-year German. (Sprechen sie Deutsch, y’all?) She must’ve figured her play would automatically score major points with anyone who read it if she included some of her recently learned elementary German.

But Little Laura turned poor Markus into a stereotypical spectacle. He’s like Fes in “That 70s Show,” except with an Austrian twist. Poor guy could barely speak English, which isn't really how that whole foreign exchange student thing works. (Note: Little Laura kind of really wanted to find and hook-up with an exotic student visiting from abroad. This never panned out, which is pretty sad.)

I appreciate your attempt to diversify the story, but you have to think about how the rest of world will see your portrayal, you ignorant American.

And what was the deal with Roberto? Half-way through the story did you decide to make him a Latin lover when he initially seemed like another American dude? I think you did. Consistency, Little Laura. Consistency. 

You’ll see a shout-out to Little Laura’s then-crush Drew Lachey of 98 Degrees. When writing a love interest for Little Laura’s alter ego, obviously you had to look no farther. That’s not the only pop culture reference. Did you see all of the comments about music? (Cue the Liz Lemon eye-roll.)

Now that we’ve established Little Laura’s mental state (Teenage Crazy, aisle one), we can address the rest of this story.

Oh boy. Quick question, LL. You do recognize that no teenage boys are going to sit around like a bunch of little girls excitedly discussing their crushes and dreaming about a party at someone’s house, right? Especially when said party lacks:
  • Beer
  • Easy chicks
  • Absent parents
  • Hot tubs

Oh, girl. None of those guys were going to come to your party, because none of them had a shot at getting laid.

I did have to laugh out loud when April apologized for her father. "Sorry about my Dad, he just gets excited sometimes." I'm pretty sure I said something like that a couple of weeks ago about my own dad. I guess in my experience, dads are always getting excited about something.

Let's talk about word choice. "That"… Did you have a running bet with someone to see how many times you could work it into your writing? For serious. Lay off “that.” And your exclamation points. (Your future journalism school professors will hate you otherwise.)

And about your play’s format... It’s OK to give actual stage directions. Set the scene a little. NOT HAVE A NARRATOR TELL YOU EVERYTHING THAT IS HAPPENING WHEN YOUR ACTORS ARE FULLY CAPABLE OF ACTING IT OUT. The dialogue is trite at best (You ended with "happily ever after?"), and you’re using way too many endearments. (Babes? Dearest? Dear? Let's break that habit now, before you grow up and have to break it.)

I particularly enjoyed your use of the vernacular of your time: "hook up" as a synonym for "go out" as a synonym for "go steady." Hook up. To quote Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

And the three valedictorians you mention in your epilogue? In high school you'll figure out that's not how it works. When it comes to valedictorians, Highlander rules apply: "There can be only one."

Speaking of that epilogue... yeah. You wrote an epilogue for the narrator to recite at the end of your story? I suppose it's better than a "to be continued," but dude.

Somewhere, Arthur Miller is laughing in his grave.

Amongst all of this, there’s still something even more troubling, Little Laura. Like your inability to check proper nouns. LBJ would be so pissed right now. Not to mention the fine people of ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO. I'm also barely speaking to you after you said Josh played for the METS rather than the JETS. One is a football team, which is the sport he plays, and the other isn't... so you do the math.(You can do math, right?)

And… I don’t know if you noticed this, but at one point you wrote “your” instead of “you’re.” I almost had a coronary when I saw that mistake. What are they teaching kids at school? And with a computer-written document, no-less. You had spelling and grammar check at your fingertips. I'm so angry, I can't even get into the other spelling and grammar errors for fear I'll completely lose it.
Maybe I should cut LL some slack. God knows I make typos from time to time. But that one... Why, God, why did it have to be that typo? 

Still… through all of this, there is something I admire in this play. It’s Little Laura’s clear optimism. She’s planning to become a successful doctor. Marry a successful, sweet husband who she's known since high school (and who agonized about the perfect way to ask her out on a date). Be a rockstar mom. Move to some exotic place called Boston. Little Laura was going to have it all. I'm inspired just thinking about it.

Little did Little Laura know, but she’d actually grow up to become a non-doctor spinster raising kittens instead of kids in her brother’s basement.

Now, Grown-up Laura, don’t be so hard on your life. You may not become a doctor, but you could move out of that basement and somewhere nice. And you could find a man who has a job and does his laundry. You could have children. And cats. You just have to make some changes in your life.

First step: Stop writing about yourself in the third person. It’s kind of nutty. OK. It's super freaking nutty.

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