Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gertrude's Story

If you have read any of my other posts, you know I enjoy being silly at times. I like to stretch my imagination to the absurd. When I was still a teenager, I was dating a girl who was in high school, a couple years younger than I. We spent a lot of time on the phone debating all the important things in life such as current movies and rock stars. One afternoon she called and told me she had to write a story for her English class. She had no idea what to write about and was flummoxed.

The phone in our house was in the kitchen. It was directly above a cart that held a breadbox. I told her (for purposes of keeping her identity a secret, I will refer to her from now on out as Gertrude, a fictitious moniker that I find amusing) that it is easy to make up a story. Looking at the breadbox I said, "You can make a story up about bread crumbs if you wanted."

Gertrude doubted that this could be possible. I went on to describe a scenario with two breadcrumbs called Rodney R. Rye and Peter Pumpernickel. Rodney was a crusty old sort who lived in a crevice of the breadboard and had existed there for quite a long time. Peter was fresh to the cutting board, having just been released (born) from a loaf of pumpernickel as a knife cut off a slice. Peter was full of life and rolling all over the vast wooden flat. Rodney tried to tell him to find a crevice and wedge himself in, that a giant would soon be using a cloth to wipe off the board. Peter had a daring spirit, he felt invincible, and would not contain his youthful exuberance. He continued to roll free on the cutting board. The cleaning rag showed up and in order to save Peter, Rodney freed himself from his crevice and rolled out into plain sight. The rag gets Rodney but Peter manages to flee to safety and wedges himself securely in a crevice of his own.

Gertrude liked the story idea and the next thing I knew I was at her house writing it out for her. I managed to stretch the episode out over several pages. The following day she turned in the assignment. Her name on it, not mine. I quickly forgot about it.

Several weeks later, Gertrude calls me and is frantic. She wants my assuring that the breadcrumb story was original. Yes, indeed, I say. She goes on to inform me that her teacher had enjoyed the story so much that she had entered it into a state wide high school composition competition. Gertrude was worried that I had plagiarized the short story and she would be caught for my theft. I had to reassure her that the idea was original, that up until that day when it was written it had not existed anywhere. By the way, at this time, Gertrude and I had quit dating. You know how rapidly you can go through teenage flings. I sated her worries and said goodbye.

About a year or so later, I ran into Gertrude again. I asked her about the contest in which she had been entered. She told me she had won her school district, placed second in the county, and lost in the state wide competition. For her participation she had been rewarded a $500 scholarship which she never used.

I tell you, I am very disappointed in those Statewide Composition Competition judges.

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