Monday, January 16, 2012

do you prefer your brain fried or scrambled?

If I were to serve up my brain like an egg on a platter you could order it either way: fried or scrambled. This is what happens to it whenever I attend a writing conference that involves writing to a prompt--especially a timed prompt. So, for lack of time and energy and inspiration, this week I am posting a piece that I wrote over the weekend at the Poetry and Prose Getaway, hosted by Peter Murphy ( with guest poet, Stephen Dunn (

If you want to play along, this is the prompt:

Write a piece that provides concrete advice for the completion of an intangible goal. Include three movie titles in the narrative but do not offer them as movie titles (you'll see what I mean...). Recommend at least one thing you find personally abhorrent. And include a recipe among your instructions.

This is the piece:


If you are lost and lonely, cold and hungry, it may be time to seek shelter.

If you have been cast aside, or neglected, or abused it may be time to think about moving on.

Fortunately negotiating terms of endearment is not a difficult thing to do.

You must, first of all, resolve to be patient. To be persistent. But, above all, you must promise to be faithful, steadfast, and true.

Try not to jump at the first thing that comes along. Take as long as you like to survey your surroundings. Women who are home alone are the easiest targets while it’s probably best to avoid grumpy old men.

When you have made your decision, you must approach quietly, with utmost humility and due deference. Locate the welcome mat. Sit. Stay. Announce your arrival with a soft, sweet whimper. If necessary, you may whine but never bark. And never, ever howl. These behaviors can be off-putting to some timid souls.

When the door opens, even a crack, immediately drop to the floor. Insert your snout firmly between your front paws and gaze upward apologetically. With unadulterated affection. With such sweet sorrow.

You are already situated on the welcome mat. Give it three good whacks with your tail as though you know exactly what the word “welcome” means and you are going to hold them to it.

Do not be offended if, at first, you are not offered food. A sip of water can’t hurt but don’t be surprised or discouraged if you are offered neither. Some people just don’t get it.

If you are shooed off, if the door slams shut in your face, do not despair. Drop immediately to the floor again and secure your position. Now may be a good time to yawn and stretch. You can pretend to take a nap. Do whatever it takes to buy some time because before long someone is going to check to see that you’re gone. And if you haven’t moved, they’ll worry that you’re sick or injured. Now is your chance!

Hold very still. Allow them to approach you. Don’t forget the gaze—the “I-promise-to-love-you-forever-if-you'll-just-let-me-in” gaze.  

Chances are they’ll touch you on the nose first. Some people are under the impression that a cold, wet nose is a good sign. They may want to check your paws. Even though you hate it try not to pull away. And if they attempt to feel under your belly, simply roll over. Close your eyes and smile. It may earn you a belly rub.
When they are sufficiently reassured that you are neither begging for food nor ill nor injured you may jump up, prance about, and wag your tail fetchingly. If you can pull it off, when you are invited inside, tinkle lightly on the door mat. It keeps the competition at bay.

If food and water are offered, you may now indulge freely. There will be plenty of time later on to convince them that you prefer ground sirloin mixed with basmati rice and a smidgen of ketchup.
Because by now they should know that they are endeared to you forever.
"Never underestimate the healing power
of warm dog breath."
At the conference, I managed to work up the nerve to read one of my flash fiction pieces at an open mic. I may share that with you next week.



  1. Good for you to stand up and read. It's nerve wracking isn't it?

  2. That was so cute and clever. I'm sure my mind would have blanked with those instructions.

  3. Delores--...right up there with sky-diving.

    Susan--Actually it was fun! Pretty light and shallow, though, compared with some of the deep, dark minds in my group!