Monday, December 10, 2007

writing about melanie

Melanie is constantly asking me why I didn't mention that thing she said, or that time she encouraged me, or that great advice she gave. And the real reason (which I've repeatedly explained to her) is that she's secretly pregnant.

That's right, she's pregnant. And I'm not supposed to let that slip to the gals on the American Idol mailing list, some of whom have access to my blog. And since every single person I know made a point of reminding me that I have a tendency toward overdisclosure -- not just about myself, but also about others -- I've been deathly afraid that if I wrote almost anything about Melanie, I would find myself screaming She's Pregnant! to the world at large.

And now I am. I technically agreed to wait another two weeks, until the last of the sonograms or whatever is all complete. But I've noticed lately that whenever I say, "I'm supposed to wait until what date again? When's that test, whatever it is?" she just shrugs her shoulders. Which is code for, "Oh, I guess you could write about it sooner." Which makes sense, because the last test showed about a .000000001% chance of any disease or abnormality. Not only that, but I can no longer think of anyone, including Melanie's students and the women in the Gap dressing rooms, who doesn't already know she's expecting.

I already have big plans for her baby. I want it to wear those little jangly anklets that they make in India, the ones with the silver bells. I also want to teach it to play peek-a-boo with my dog (who I found out loves that game as much as two year olds do, it's weird). Most of my plans are unauthorized, but whatever. None of them involve junk food, because I made that a policy long ago with my nieces and nephews. (Some sort of genetic encoding instructs children that aunts and uncles are the most likely to provide transfat and refined sugar, so you get a lot of requests.)

But enough about Melanie's baby. This post is not supposed to be about baby X. This post is about none other than Melanie Joiwind (named after a science fiction character, and yes, I plan to read the book).

Random facts:

Melanie is better at holidays than any person I know. Last year she threw a party for more events than I can count, one of them being "Hinjew Hanukah." And last night she transformed my Christmas tree into a 19th century masterpiece by insisting on making cranberry garlands. Which, despite my strict Christian upbringing and almost two decades of regular church-going, I've never done. It took a Jew! (She also proudly declared that most Christmas Carols were written by Jews, but I put about as much stock in that statement as I do a random Wikipedia entry. At the time she said it, we were listening to a Bing Crosby song about sex that she mistakenly identified as a "Christmas Carol." How she gets baby Jesus out of "maybe just a half a drink more" I'll never know.)

Melanie is the best writing teacher I've ever had. Any feeble thing I know about plot construction, character development, theme (which should be like "a watermark on paper"), or dialogue, I learned from her. And she doesn't mind telling it to me over and over again, either, in response to my late-night questions. I love the way she describes the "rules" of writing. She never calls them rules, she just says that a certain thing has been found to be "pleasing" or "satisfying" to readers. Even so, her crazed students talk about "her" rules, as though she made them up. She stays patient, though, no matter how arrogant and condescending they get.

I totally worry about the way she talks to her dog. She calls her dog a brat, asks her why she's so bad, and refers to her in conversation as The Beast. This, I fear, will make her child feel very insecure -- if the dog can be called names, then the child will think he/she might do something horribly wrong and get called names, too. When I try to discuss this with Melanie, she laughs at me. Then she goes home and tells Vikram, and he laughs at me, too.

A guy wrote a song about Melanie. It's hilarious, I found it on the web. (He has five CDs!) The song is all mad because she won't have sex with him. It's called something like "Please Don't Be Celibate Tonight." Or maybe that's just the chorus. Whatever, it's a rock classic.

Anyway, that's all about Melanie for now. Look for updates as events develop. Remember there's always a chance that I'll accidentally reveal some deep dark secret she entrusted only to me.*

*In my defense, at one point two close friends (who also knew each other) both told me they had a crush on the same guy. Each swore me to secrecy. And I kept their secrets, until one night when we all went out to dinner and they each revealed their crush to the other. Then they both turned on me and said, "You knew this all these months! And you didn't say anything?" So there, I can keep a secret when it's important. See how I'm not even naming any names?

Oh, yeah, remind me to tell you the story about Melanie's panties and the gardener.

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