Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Fun with Words (and with Friends)


On Monday night, I paid a visit to a writers' group that I had attended for the first time a year ago. With my previous schedule, I found it difficult to join them very often. I'm hoping that has changed.

Together, the group did a writing exercise that was so much fun that I think it would make a good party game. It reminded me a little of Mad Libs and also reminded me a little of my old elementary school assignments to create sentences around spelling words ... the second of which, I suppose, may not sound all that fun to some people. My older brothers, for instance, would stare at that list of words without knowing what to do with them, in spite of the fact that they could be creative with a paintbrush or a camera.

Each of us in the group started out with a sheet of paper with seven numbered blank lines. After writing our names on the papers, we were told to write the name of a famous person, living or dead, on the first line, fold the paper down so that the first answer didn't show and pass our paper to the person on our right. I wrote "George Washington" and passed mine on.

We repeated this similar process with the six other blank spaces, so that each paper, in the end, had words contributed by seven different writers. For our next words, we had to choose a name for a place, a time period, an onomatapoeia word, a verb, an adjective and a noun. After we had filled in our blank for the seventh line, the papers, which had made the rounds of the table, were returned to their original owners. We were now instructed to make a story using all seven words.

These were my words -- George Washington, Yankee Stadium, presidential election, swish, zipped, shiny and rocking chair.

At first, I was a little nervous that Yankee Stadium was one of my words. As Jeremy Crow of this blog knows, sports are not my forte. The closest I've come to watching a sport in a big arena is watching Disney on Ice. In the end, I think I came up with a semi-sensible story, if something imaginative can be said to be semi-sensible. We, of course, read our little stories aloud after a few minutes, and there was some giggling involved.

The story --

"It was a strange sight to see George Washington, or someone who looked very much like him, in the stands at Yankee Stadium. I couldn't help but stare at him. He looked like he'd stepped out of one of the paintings I'd seen of the historical figure. His graying curled coif looked authentic.

This happened to be election season, and I had to wonder if this was a gimmick for one or the other candidate's presidential campaign. As I walked past him with my hot dog, I heard the swish of his coat tails, against which I had, apparently, brushed.

At the singing of the national anthem, he zipped up to his feet. The sun beaming down on him made the profile of his head as shiny as his image on the quarter.

As he stood, I noticed something else strange. He wasn't seated quite like everybody else. Below him was a wooden rocking chair. Perhaps, it was a time travel rocking chair."

What do you think? Would you have fun doing this exercise at a party or is this something only fun to writers' groups?