Saturday, July 24, 2010

High School Reunion, A Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

We've made it to week 12 of the Saturday Centus, that madcap literary romp hosted by Jenny Matlock at her blog, Jenny Matlock…off on my tangent... 

So what is this Saturday Centus thingy that you keep hearing about in the media?   Fox News calls it “the next phase in the socialist indoctrination of America, right before they begin executing us.”  Sarah Palin said of it, “I’m not sure what I think of it. Nobody has told me yet.”  And our old friend Rush Limbaugh said it was “a subversive, left-wing government plot to electronically control your mind through your computer and turn you into a fanatical terrorist suicide bomber who supports health care reform and gay marriage.”  

But here, in a little place I like to call reality, the Saturday Centus is just an entertaining and thought-provoking writing exercise where Jenny posts a “prompt," a phrase that must be included as written, and the rest of us have one week to craft a story around it with no more than 100 additional words.  The whole point of this meme is to challenge yourself to explore just how well you can tell a complete story when you only have a very limited number of words with which to do so.

As some of you know, it's unbelievable how fast 100 words can fly by!

This is a particularly difficult task for me because I tend to ramble a lot, both in my writing and everyday conversation.  Yes, I could probably go on for hours.  Why, I remember when I was just thirteen years old and all full of these crazy hormones and just beginning to explore, there I go again!

As I was saying, this meme forces you to look beyond the superfluous, artistic flourishes and schmaltzy imagery and focus on building a tight, succinct story where every word counts.  It’s really hard!  You have to chop your babies edit something fierce!  But it’s cool when you finally get your word count down to 100 and see all the excess words you found you could live without.  (Oh WordCalc, sometimes you can be a harsh taskmaster!)

Here’s an example of what I mean.  Most of you are familiar with the famous poem, “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe.  It begins with “Once upon a  dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…”    What follows are stanza after stanza of a very flowery and descriptive narrative that drones on with sumptuous symbolism and profuse drama.

That, and apparently he had a fondness for the word, "Nevermore."  (I have a similar fondness for the word "rutabaga," but I somehow manage to keep it in check.)

In contrast, the “Saturday Centus” version would read, “One night while reading, an annoying talking bird kept tapping on my door.”  See how much better that is!  No wonder Poe went insane.  Think of all the time and effort he could have saved!

After you finish your 100-word epic, you need to stop on by Jenny’s blog and link up with the Saturday Centus meme post so that we can check out each other’s treatment on the prompt.  Every week we have some really wonderful writers who regularly contribute, as well as new, talented writers who decide to take the leap and join in to share their take on the prompt.  And just so you know, there’s always room for one more!  (Subtle, I know.)

Are you up to the challenge?

This week the prompt was written by a special guest writer.  I’m thinking that means he is “special” as in “Olympics” rather than “distinguished,” but what do I know.  I forget his name, but I’m told he knows his way around a waffle, is generally considered a wise ass, looks a lot like Tom Selleck in a crazed, carnival-mirror sort of way, and knows how to order a drink in Comanche (It’s a city in Oklahoma.)  Here is this week’s prompt:

Driving six hours is a long time on the road.  Six hours spent singing car-aoke and taking in the picturesque scenery, but mostly reminiscing about the good times.  But those days were long gone and my mind was in a different place now.  Or was it?  My pulse quickened as I passed the road sign which read "Medford 27 miles."

And here is my 100-word effort this week.  I think I’ll call it:

High School Reunion

Crossing the border into Oregon, I gaze at the beautiful spectacle of the Rogue River Valley.  A song comes on the radio and in moments I’m doing my best Peter Cetera impression…with feeling.

"Everybody needs a little time away," I heard her say, "from each other." 

Does she ever think about me?  I wonder.

Hold me now. It's hard for me to say I'm sorry. I just want you to stay.

She was my soulmate.

After all that we've been through, I will make it up to you. I promise to.

Maybe she can be again. 

Driving six hours is a long time on the road.  Six hours spent singing car-aoke and taking in the picturesque scenery, but mostly reminiscing about the good times.  But those days were long gone and my mind was in a different place now.  Or was it?  My pulse quickened as I passed the road sign which read "Medford 27 miles."

Almost there.

Jenny Matlock

Don't be a foppotee!  Join in the fun!



  1. I just love your post every week. Where to begin...ok first off I loved the prompt almost as much as I would hear more about your waffles.

    I too used the Car-Aoke to throw some actual lyrics in story and love that I am not the only one.

    I laughed my tail off at the "new" poe poem...perfect

    and finally I liked the stinking story too! Great job!

  2. I loved the song words intertwined with your words. Very good idea. Great Centus as usual.

    I see we must have similar views on the "Fair and Unbalanced" news channel lol.

  3. That was a long prompt! But you made a nice twist of it as usual.

  4. This long prompt has thrown me; I have been pondering all morning and finally had it. Came in to write and see your beat me to it! The Class Reunion theme, I mean. YOu did a great job so I guess I will have to go back to mentally working again. You did well on yours; I can't compete! :)

  5. I loved that song too! I really like you long prompts too!

  6. Wicked! :D But I love Bardbury, one would be a foppotee not to. LOL

  7. Well done...I have to admit to some difficulty with the prompt...not sure why, other than my contrarian attempt to not go to Oregon with it...;-) Peace

  8. Ah, sweet anticipation! At least you didn't chicken out like I did. As usual, smart, tight and very readable.


  9. Love that song! What you did with it, is amazing.

  10. wow! I am, indeed impressed. Very nice!

    I cursed "Tom" (is it you, by chance?) through and through all day long...the wordy prompt gave me fewer words to work with but I guess that is the point of the exercise. I still curse "Tom" but used my whininess in the story.

  11. The quotes from Fox "News", Palin and Limbaugh had me laughing my ass off! Okay, that is not true. I could never laugh my ass off, because that would take an unnatural amount of laughing. "Butt" I digress. :)

    I think you have missed your calling. After reading your take on The Raven, I think you should definitely seek a position with Cliff Notes. Think of the millions of students who could benefit from your knowledge! Just saying...

    As for the character in your post today, he just needs to wipe that grin right off his face. That's right. His old girlfriend is gonna whack him upside the head! What the hell did he think would happen after he walked out on her and left her in that one horse town?

    This is scary, but I have been in Comanche, Oklahoma and Comanche, Texas. The people in Comanche, Texas have more teeth.

    Enjoyed your post and your WONDERFUL always!


  12. For sure, everyone before this comment hit it spot make a fun read even before you tackle the prompt.

    By the way, tell that 'Tom' dude I included him and Jenny in mine just so I could put a few digs in...Hope PJ will pick up on it :)

    This is just FUN!

  13. Hi Tom...I enjoyed this short effort better than most, because it left the imagination open....and didn't end with a twist....All of your stories have been fun to read, this one is just my favorite. Nice!

  14. OH, I did a high school reunion, too...but mine is very different from yours!

    Do you think they re-connected?

  15. These Centus posts of yours should be bound in a book....they're hilarious, refreshing and well written.

    LOVED every word of this, from the date above the post title onward.

    I fear it is you who may have written the prompt this week....and I apologize for all the griping I'm doing about it. It's going to be challenging to use in each of 6 chapters.....Oy.

  16. I enjoyed this alot Tom. And I actually enjoyed the prompt, I don't know what everyone is griping about :) The story was great, and your introduction had me howling. The rewritten Poe had me snorting coffee out of my nose. Annoying bird indeed. This is way too much fun! Kat

  17. You get the prize again for funniest into to the Centus. You manage each week to have me laughing. I know there's been some whining about your, ahem, that guy's, long prompt. But I think that's the whole point, to be challenged. As for your take, I liked how you intertwined lyrics with the story. Nice job!

  18. I really like this, Tgo. I want more! Was there a "Reunited and it feels so good.."?

  19. Great post, to funny about Poe going insane...nevermore. Yes 100 words can be very hard...nicely done.

  20. I too chose a high school reunion theme - great minds and all that. That's probably what Poe thought too, right before he lost it. Clever use of the song in your sory.

  21. Just so you know, I had to google Peter Cetera. Yes, feel old.

    After hearing the song, I gotta say the image of a guy car-aoking this song... with feeling, is pretty hilarious.

    And guesssss what! I actually did one this week! That's right. I'm back in business. Check it out yo, and maybe add me if the block is gone. Lol.

  22. caught me singing the song as I was reading along! (No rhyme intended there.)

  23. it was very original from you to find an inspiration for your story in a song!

  24. You did an awesome job with that prompt. Loved the way you wove in the lyrics. And see how easy it was for me to just pop over from my own comment section now that you're hooked up to Disqus? Yay, Tom!

  25. I just have to say right now that, yes, this is prompt writing Tom. I had to take all kinds of grief over my Harlequin Romance shake-up so Tom's gonna have to "man up", too!

    You did it again.

    Tom, I laugh so hard at your intro I can't even read your story. And then I have to leave and come back and SKIP the intro so I can concentrate on the story without cracking up!

    Can I pre-order your book?

    I need probably about 5 copies for me and for gifts and 1 at least for a giveaway!

    You are just really, really, really, really an amazing writer.

    And the story wasn't half bad either!

    BTW, just take along some of your writing and she will be putty in your hands!

  26. love how you tied in the song lyrics with the story there tom. very clever.

    Tina from
    Mummy Diaries
    Gossip Avenue
    Travel Shack
    Game FreakZ


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