Sunday, September 12, 2010

Award Winning Authors

It's official. I've joined the ranks of award winning authors. Second year in a row. Okay, so it was just a literary contest sponsered by my community for our annual Peach Days festivities but I did get some prize money and a certificate for both pieces I entered. That counts, doesn't it?
The point is, sometimes we need to stretch ourselves by writing something apart from our WIP (work in progress). It's really nice to work on a short piece sometimes--especially when the novel word count feels like we haven't made a dent. If we get a reward for our efforts along the way, so much the better. The biggest reward is feeling encouraged that one's writing is good enough. Anyone who remains steadfast in the writing craft is a winner to me.
Here's my Second Place Essay (a humorous commentary on today's newlyweds):
Burnt Offerings
Newlyweds have it too easy these days. All they have to do is speed dial Mom and ask which cycle to run the wash for hubby’s dress shirt or for that recipe for Corn Flake Chicken. Or they might check the Internet for the answers. Perhaps they’ll pay attention to the food channel or that do-it-yourself network on the new flat screen TV they got as a group wedding gift from the office.

Why, when I was a bride it was trial and error. If hubby’s dress shirt came out pink instead of brilliant white, he’d just have to find a new tie to go with it. If I got out the ingredients for dinner and found out hubby polished off the Corn Flakes that morning, we’d just have to make do with Shredded Wheat and call it Wooly Chicken instead. If dinner got burned, the bride would cry while her husband told her it was the best meal ever. There was none of this running out for fast food to cover the catastrophe. Folks just didn’t spend money like they do today.

With credit card applications coming in the mailbox every other day, even high school seniors and college freshmen have at least one card to help them feel prepared for emergencies or feel better about those pesky school loans. They’ve learned that it’s only plastic after all, so it’s future money their spending. They’re too into the instant gratification mode to notice the recession going on out there. Haven’t their mothers taught them anything important?

Another thing that rankles my hind end about young couples these days is that they think they can afford a brand new house like the one they just left off living in with their parents. Or a shiny, fast car, for that matter. Just because they waited to marry until they both graduated from college and secured good jobs doesn’t mean they should start out so high on the hog. What about the merits of living off love for those first years? Isn’t that supposed to shape you into the best “one flesh” you can be? There is no “for better or for worse”. There’s only “for better”.

Forget having babies right off the bat. Who wants to be saddled with midnight feedings and diapers when your new career is hitting the jackpot? Not the newlyweds living next door to me. The lights on at midnight turn out to be the weekend parties they throw. The music is so loud I can’t get to sleep after enduring the evening drooling over the smell wafting out of the catering truck.

Even more important than the neighbors not having babies, my daughter and her new husband haven’t thought about it either. You’d think my daughter would listen to the pleas of her dear mother to make me a grandmother, but every time they come over, my eyes bounce from her flat belly to her face giving me “the look”. I roll my eyes right back at her and bite back a question about if she knows what to do. I’m certain the stork will make a visit later than sooner. My only consolation is that I taught her what it means to use a credit card.

I went to a bridal shower the other day for my niece and the gifts they give these days could put a person into the poor house. No more oohs and ahs over the Teflon cake pans. Now it’s got to be a Bosch mixer or a bread machine before somebody lifts an eyebrow. Even though the bride-to-be doesn’t know where she’s going on her honeymoon, she knows it has to do with plane tickets and beaches. That’s what credit cards are for!

When I was young we got one night in a motel and then we took off to go camping in a tent. I’m talking about the heavy canvas kind handed down from Grandma or Uncle Albert that takes half an afternoon to set up. Those tents retain so much heat they could cook you alive if you stayed in ‘em too long. We didn’t care; there weren’t any of those pop-up dome tents to get jealous over. We worked together, batting our eyelashes at one another before hammering in the next stake. The scent of pine needles and a sky full of stars was our reward. Now that was getting away from it all. That was adventure. You can’t buy those kinds of memories.

I’m standing over the stove, smiling at the recollection of my honeymoon and thinking there’s no use denying times have changed. I just wish girls these days could experience some of the struggles I went through as a new bride—the kind of things that helped a couple make important choices together and drew them closer because nothing was easy. The kind of experiences that keep a couple together through thick and thin, through pink dress shirts and Wooly Chicken.

My nose brings me out of my musings and I shake my head. On occasion I still serve burnt offerings. But tonight I’m leaning toward changing with those times. I call out to the familiar form in the living room arm chair. “Dear, get your coat. We’re going out to eat.”

After all this time, I’ve earned it.


Bryan Weight Family said...

A wonderful commentary on the good old days compared to modern times. The ending demonstrated a willingness to change. Was it for the better?


No Buckaroos said...

Congrats on your winnings! Cute story - so true!

Shannon said...

Nice job, Renae. I like the changes you made.