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Cheap Talk & Finger Buffet ( Draft 2 ).

by Bobo 

Posted: 22 September 2003
Word Count: 909
Summary: Edited version of a short I posted a while ago. Comments welcomed.

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I don't want to be here, not really. Parties grind me down. All that having to make small-talk, trying to keep a smile on your face when a stony grimace would be more the stuff of truth. Money...gardens... holidays...relationships... children...nothing's sacred; all of it's shared with people only one-up from strangers. When did folk get to be so brazen?

On top of all that there's the appalling dress-sense of some people to contend with; so much mutton in the guise of lamb, but is one allowed to be honest - oh no, praise is very much the done thing, even if the words almost stick in your throat and choke you. Skirts above the knee when you're in your sixties, or even beyond judging by some of the crows' feet on display here, simply isn't the done thing; so vulgar. And some of the colours - well, ghastly, to say the very least. Why is it that so few have the ability to co-ordinate?! A bold dog-tooth next to an equally dramatic paisley - such shocking error of judgement. It's really not that difficult to avoid looking like a dog's dinner, but so many just never do learn, continuing through life as a continual bloody eyesore!

Party food is another gripe. Over-priced bits and pieces that wouldn't fill you up however much you ate! Most of it doesn't even look like food - certainly nothing much to get the appetite going, that's for sure. Too twee, far too pretty for consumption. What have we on offer here, I wonder? Much as you'd expect - no surprises; the obligatory silver tray crammed with soggy vol-au-vents ( filled with some kind of bright pink goo that looks a tad too much like mulched-up lipstick to tempt the taste-buds ); quiche which has that shop-bought look about it; celery sticks and dips which no-one will be able to manage...celery really does play havoc with dentures, they should've thought of that; and various curly sandwiches which are enough to make anyone wish they'd eaten before thay came. To be honest, I don't think I'll bother with it, not that hungry any more. The young ones'll eat it, sure enough, though probably they'd prefer one of those McDonalds, and the old will stick to tea and biscuits, maybe braving a solitary dried-out cucumber sandwich...it's all so predictable.

Ah, right on queue, here comes the music. Not bad; a nice folk singer, just him and his guitar - gentle music, music that makes your soul want to sing-along. Thank God they've not brought in one of those disco's - the noise from those things really is enough to wake the dead! At least the party's not a total farce - they got this bit right; it appeals to young and old alike, this - everybody's happy. I wish people would dance, I've always enjoyed a bit of a knees-up, but they seem to want to just stand around, still talking, gossiping, picking at the bird-food. It spoils the song, does all this chatter.

What now?! Freddy's seeming to want a bit of shush. Poor chap on the guitar hadn't even finished that last tune. Always was a ride bugger, that Fred. Oh no, not speeches, I don't think I can stand this any more if they insist on speeches. I daresay I'm not the only one; the looks on quite a few faces are that of 'oh no'. Outside of weddings there's no need for speeches ( and even then there's no need for there to be so many, so long, so dull... ). The mind always wanders, so it does, the eyes invariably glaze over, and after ten minutes or so the heart sinks to new depths. The applause or 'here here's that follow are for the fact the speaker has shut up, at last, certainly not for the content.

'For she's a jolly good fellow...For she's a jolly good fellow...For she's a jolly good fellow...And so say all of us...'... They're all at it now; everyone likes a bit of a sing-song, I guess. Pity they're all tone-deaf, but bless 'em for trying.

What really gets my goat, makes my blood boil, is the fact that I don't remember half these people. The odd hanger-on you come to expect at these things - free food, free sherry, etc - but so many?! So much freeloading. Anybody'd think we were still on rations! The whole of the Ramsfleet W.I., for heaven's sake...I only went a couple of times when Beattie wanted some company. Bored rigid, i was; what did I want with Origami at my time of life? I'll have to keep my eye on them; they're not above sneaking some of the bouquets out under their mac's, that lot...

Not long now. Should all soon be over, and then they can let me rest in peace. Ah yes, sweet tranquility, I can hardly wait; all this malarkey's proving too much, it really is. So draining. I'd much prefer to be on my own, left with my thoughts, my memories, my reality, not this drama. I never was very tolerant of anything dramatic, don't suppose that'll ever change; 'in death as in life', isn't that what they say? Something like that...

I never did like funerals much - thought this one might be the exception, though. Hoped it'd be that bit special. Ah well, never mind; it's not as though I'll attend any more.

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Comments by other Members

Fearless at 18:43 on 22 September 2003  Report this post
Hehehehe, still makes me chuckle and cringe, all at the same time.


Bobo at 18:32 on 24 September 2003  Report this post
Thanks Fearless - it still needs some tweaking methinks...

Fearless at 18:46 on 24 September 2003  Report this post
I had to go through an exercise recently.........figuring out who got what - my books, music, etc. I also wanted a furiously decadent budget for a New Orleans Brass Band to play dirty jazz and blues, let my closest slag me off a treat, so that I can give them a good send off, rather than the other way round, which is what usually happens.

From your vantage point, you could read their expressions, perhaps their minds and anticipate what they're after.

Just a thought.


Bobo at 18:53 on 24 September 2003  Report this post
Just a thought...but a very very good one...I need to go away and think about that over a bottle of fine Merlot!

The dirty jazz sounds very cool btw.


Fearless at 19:00 on 24 September 2003  Report this post
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is rather good methinks, as is the Rebirth Brass Band...........and the devil has the greatest choreography - more Hot Gossip than Pan's People.


Bobo at 19:01 on 24 September 2003  Report this post
Very true Woz, very true!


Becca at 02:38 on 26 September 2003  Report this post
Bobo, loved the bright pink goo, Taramasalata, isn't it?
Where you write: 'To be honest I don't think I'll bother with it,..' I felt that to be the first line where you narrator stops being a narrator and becomes a character in the story. Before that it sounds more observational and distanced. The language changes in the second half, becomes more 'local'. I got the sense of this being notes for a bigger more involved story, almost as if it was all over before you got into your stride. There are some lovely observations in it, it's a horror story all right, I'd love to see it deepened and expanded.

Bobo at 13:25 on 26 September 2003  Report this post
Thanks Becca - you're right; it needs expansion...I just need to get inspired!

BoBo x

Fearless at 13:34 on 26 September 2003  Report this post
Grab the merlot spunky and let the words (not wine) flood


Tabitha at 10:58 on 06 October 2003  Report this post
Great ending, Bobo! I didn't see it coming, but then you did cheat a little by using the word 'bouquets' instead of wreaths. I would be inclined to change that to 'flowers', so that the reader doesn't feel tricked - we all like a good twist, but we have to be able to look back through the story, see that all the clues were there (and there are some great ones here!), and know that we've fooled ourselves.

The major problem I had with this was lack of conciseness. Redundant words and repetition slow this down. A few examples from the first para:
I don't want to be here, not really. Parties really grind me down.

The words in bold don't add anything - they're known as 'fillers'. And if you check through, you'll see that you've used words like 'really' and 'very' in a 'filler' sense quite often.
All that having to make small-talk, trying to keep a smile on your face when a stony grimace would be more the stuff of truth.Money... gardens... holidays... relationships... children... nothing's sacred; all of it's shared with people only one-up from strangers.

Apart from being wordy, this doesn't flow well because the examples of small-talk that you are about to give are preceded by facial expressions. And 'nothing's sacred' is repetitious as you've already made a good job of showing us what they're talking about. And so is 'on your face' - where else would a smile be? A more concise example could be: All that smiling when a stony grimace would be more the stuff of truth. And that small-talk! Money... gardens... holidays... relationships... children... all shared with near strangers. Not a great example, but by eliminating wordiness the word count is down from 43 to 27.

I hope you won't think me too harsh, Bobo! I really did enjoy this story. But editors and publishers hate to see a dozen words used when half the number will say the same thing without the loss of style. I have a link to an article on the importance of conciseness somewhere. When I find it, I'll post it here.:-)

Bobo at 11:39 on 06 October 2003  Report this post
Hi Tabitha -

Thanks so much for your feedback - glad you enjoyed the piece! You're right - there need to be changes made - 'flowers' instead of 'bouquets', for example, makes all the difference. Though I also agree that the language used needs some work also, I'm a little hesitant to cut it too much; I wanted to create a very chatty piece...the dead woman just wittering away to the reader...and so some of the repetition and wordiness is aimed toward that end. But I guess I have to find middle-ground.

thanks so much for the site link.

Lisa x

Tabitha at 12:00 on 06 October 2003  Report this post
I understood where you were coming from, Lisa, and that you want it to come across as chatty. But I suppose it's a bit like writing dialogue - we can't use all the bits and bobs we normally use in speech because it does slow the pace.

I wonder if anyone else has any views on this point? It would be interesting to see what others think. :-)

Bobo at 14:28 on 06 October 2003  Report this post
I know what you mean Tabitha - it's just a hard balance to achieve; on the one hand, it has to sound authentic, but on the other you don't wish to alienate / annoy the reader.

Yes, I'd also be interested to hear others' views on this.


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