Sunday, January 29, 2012

Where do socks disappear to when they vanish?

Where do sock disappear to?

If you ever wondered where socks disappear to, when they suddenly vanish from your laundry, help is on the way:

This is what happens: Inside your washing machine there is a portal transporting your socks to Sock Island, where they have a well deserved vacation after weeks and weeks of staying in a dark drawer, being walked inside of smelly and air tight shoes and boots and being washed round and round and round till they get dizzy and want to puke.

In Sebastian on Sock Island we meet the boy Sebastian who gets sucked through this portal and lands on Sock Island, where he has a marvellous time with the two socks, Sokkey and Stockey. But something is terribly wrong on Sock Island. The nasty Woolley is out for power and wants Sock Island to be his personal kingdom. He has stolen the key to the portal and Sebastian can´t get home to his family, before he has found the key through many dangerous adventures.

The story is still under way and we expect it to be published in Danish this fall and then it should be translated and adapted into English spring 2013.

Looking forward to publish, it would be magnificent to hear your comments on the idea...

Per Holbo, Author of "Princess Lila and the Knight in Shouting Armor," available on amazon at:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Fish Model: Element (a) Starters!

The first element of the fish model
As promised, I will go through the fish model in making a good reading experience for your readers and today I will guide you through the first element: The Starter!

But first I need to clear something up
As these posts are a work in progress I will from time to time have to revise some of my definitions and explanations as needed. In my first post I claimed that the starter is the first 2-3 words in your work, but as I was writing the present post I realized that this definition is a bit off. The starter CAN be broader than those first words. It can be the title of your work, the first few sentences or even the image on the cover.

Let us begin
The Starter is, beside the obvious that it´s what starts your work, a teaser. It´s something you use to get the readers attention. In a commercial, the first few miliseconds are vital to getting out the message. To get an idea, think of a commercial you remember. How did it begin? What was it that got your attention? Was it the clothes the people in the commercial wore? Was it some text on the screen? Sounds maybe? Whatever it was, the thing that made you want to see more was an example of a good starter.

Three starter tactics
There are many ways to make a good starter and though it is impossible to set a complete guideline to cover every possible effective starter, there are a few tactics you can use to make a good starter.

The surprise tactic is when you - yes, you guessed it - surprise your readers, catch them off guard to open up their minds as to what comes next. The surprise tactic has it´s strength in being unique, ´cause otherwise it really wouldn´t be a surprise, would it? If someone else has already used what you may think is a good surprise tactic starter, then you may want to rethink it.

In my first English fairy tale I use this tactic in the title of the book: "Princess Lila and The Knight in Shouting Armor." It´s simple and effective, because you would expect a Knight in SHINING armor and instead you get a Knight in SHOUTING Armor. The reader´s interest is already on heels and I can begin to tell the story.

In fact, when I published this book on the number of sample downloads sent it straight to the top of my own book list passing books on it´s way that had been there for several weeks and I must admit, that the cover I had at the time was the worst cover I´ve ever had on any book!

Another example where the title is the starter is a Danish novel published fall 2011. It had the quite extensive title: "The 100-year-old, who climbed out the window and disappeared." This title makes you wonder, because it seems to be self-contradicting. Just to imagine someone that old climbing out the window is strange and we want to know more.

Yet another example is chapter 2 in my upcoming novel, "Hickory Street Changing," where the beginning says "Couple´s Therapy? How can cheating on your wife be Couple´s Therapy?" Indeed! How can it? I want to read more to find out and thus it´s a good starter.

The sounds tactic is a tactic rarely used, but when applied it can make a world of difference. Using a sound in the beginning of your work instead of words brings your story to a high paste level even before your reader has any clue as to what the story is all about.

I´ve used this tactic in some of my Flash Fiction and this is an area where it is most called for, because Flash Fiction being so short, you really need something to get things going right away. A sound will do that. I wrote a flash fiction a few months ago (in Danish, so I´m sorry, but you can´t read it) where the beginning is a car crash. It started with "Crriiiisjang!" being the sound of a car crashing.

The quoting tactic is a peculiar one to describe, but as you have already guessed this tactic is when you start with a quote. The quote can be one of your characters saying something interesting or it could be a quote from a paper, a book or a magazine, those being either from the real world or from the world of your story. This tactic is one of my favorites, but since it is usually harder to do well than the other tactics mentioned here, I try to not use so often.

This tactic is widely used in Science Fiction and Fantasy. The reason is probably because in these two genres you need more description of the story´s world than in most other stories. So, why not do two things at the same time: peek the readers interest with a good starter AND at the same time explain a bit of the story world?

An example could be Isaac Asimov´s trilogy "Foundation" It starts of with a quote from the galactic encyclopedia presenting one of the main characters, Hari Seldon and at the same time presenting a bit of the story world. This example is even better than most, because in addition Asimov uses this quote to presetn another main character, Gaal Dornick AND it leads us into the story by letting the encyclopedia tell of a meeting between these two people which then is the beginning of the story itself. Brilliant use of the quoting tactic!

The Peculiarity tactic is the last one I will present at this point. There will of course be dosen´s of other tactics, but not on this blog and certainly not today.

This tactic is quite simple to explain, but hard to master. The tactic is to use words in such a way, that it makes the reader puzzled enough to read on but, and this is the hard part, not so puzzled that your work is tossed and replaced!

How to do this is a matter of training and getting someone to read your peculiar start. Did I say "someone?" What I meant was as many different people on your target group as you can possibly gather! The challenge with this tactic is that you can never know how people will react to your starter. You never know when it´s going to keep them reading and when it´s a tosser starter, so the only way to get an idea is to let numerous people read it and give you some feed back.

My advise: stay away from this starter, unless you have the base for experimenting with it. If you fail with this starter you may even throw off potential costumers from ever reading another book of yours!

Final statement
Now, that´s it for today. I will get back to the other elements of a good reading experience as soon as I can, hopefully next week, though I cannot make any promises.

Was the above helpful? Do you agree with what I just said? Do you have any revising statements?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Defining a good reading experience

"A book should never contain more than 100.000 words!"

Recently an English Professor hit a fellow author, L.E.Fitzpatrick, with this review. Though it wasn´t any of my own work beeing careened and hung to dry it still made my blood boil. Who is anyone to state such obvious nonsense about creative businesses such as writing books or music, painting or sculpturing?

That´s why I decided to write this post on my blog trying to define a good read.

Authoring is hard work!
To give your readers a good reading experience is hard work. You have to make an effort, so that your reader finds it worth the trouble to turn the page and read on. This truth has made some people think it´s like rocket science. Well, let me tell you: it´s not! Still, a lot can be done to give readers alike a better reading experience, ´cause let´s face it: we need higher standards when it comes to books - especially since recent years developments in the area of ebook publishing has made it possible for any bum visiting a public library to publish inaddequite scribblings - and believe me, they do! Just open your favorite ereader and download the first 5 free ebooks by Indie Authors. Chances are you will know exactly what I mean as soon as you´ve read the first three of them. And now that we´re at it: there´s a reason why so many Indie ebooks are free!

We need rules - to be broken
So, basically, we need rules, but we also need to understand that rules in creative fields are meant to be broken, if it´s called for.

My music teacher in college used to put it somewhat like this:
"The rules are there to help you improve. By applying the rules, you stand on the shoulders of those who came before you learning from their experience. But the rules are not there to deprive you of creativeness. If the music works, it´s good music, end of story. However, if you choose to not apply the rules, the music better be good or I´ll slap you in the face with bad grades!"
Defining a good reading experience
Let´s begin by defining a good reading experience by stating this simple fact:
If your target reader in general likes your work and turns the pages with little difficulty, you have given them a good reading experience.

But how do you do that?

Here is a few basic tips:

1. Shape your book like a fish (my apologies for the poor quality of this drawing - I am, after all, an Author, not an illustrator:)
By shaping your story like a fish you have the basic model of a good story. The elements in my model are:

a. Starters! The first two or three words are perhaps the most important part of your readers experience. This beginning determines if your reader starts reading with excitement or confusement. Make them count!

b. Introducing the basics is one of the most hidden secrets to writing. When you read a book you like, you probably won´t notice the effort the author has put into giving you these basics. But if they are not there, you will! And you probably won´t even get to the bottom of the first page before giving up.

c. The beginning. If you are just as impatient an author as I am, beginning to tell the story is the part you hate the most. This is the part where you give your readers back ground info to enable them to understand the rest of the story, so if you don´t get it right, they won´t read the rest of the story and you will have a hard time convincing them to buy your newest book, if the first part of a previous book was not worth the while.

d. Main body of the story the part you, as an author would most likely find to be the easy part, because this is where your idea comes to life. Still, you need to work hard to tell the story right, but I´ll get into that in another post.

e. Concluding the story can be an exciting endeavour, but to be honest, it can also be a drag. But again, if you can´t conclude the story, your readers will feel cheated. Depraving your readers of the conclusion is like waving candy at the eyes of a child only to put in back in your pocket. Even if your book is brilliant up to this point, a bad conclusion can ruin the entire reading experience for your readers and they´ll never come back.

d. Tying up loose ends means answering unanswered questions. In any story there will be questions that are never answered, but still you need to at least address these questions. The interesting thing is this: if your readers loved your book up to his point all you have to do is address unanswered questions with something like:
"How Mrs. Landry ever got the information never came to the surface, but it was on her account that the firm upgraded their security."

With this you haven´t answered the question, but you still addressed it and your readers will accept it.

e. Making room for more is not really a necessity, but it is often what separates a good book from a very good book. The reason is simple: nothing in every day life really ends and by making room for more you make the story credible.

Making room for more posts
In the coming week I´ll be diving deeper into the above mentioned, but for now I´ll just ask you this one question: do you apply all of these elements in your story and in which ways?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Presenting Danish Humor

A couple of days ago someone asked me: "Is Danish humor any different from say, American humor?"
At the time I didn´t know exactly what to say, because let´s face it: to answer that question I need to know a lot about both of them.

Let´s think about it
However, it did make me think about humor and what it is that makes something funny. It´s quite the challenge to say, what makes people laugh. Culture plays a part, but so does language and accents. And maybe, the most interesting feature with humor is the very fact that it cannot be explained.

For example: Charlie Chaplin was immensely funny in his time and many people, including myself, still find his films funny. But to be honest, I don´t think he would be having much success, if he presented his films to the audience of today.

So, what was funny is not funny anymore.

What, if any, Is the difference?
But let´s get back to the original question: is Danish humor different than American humor?

Yes, I think it is. One thing I have observed is that humor seems to be influenced by temperature and light.
"What?" you may say, but I really mean it.

The lower the temperature, the more slow and layed back the humor. If you´re an American, just think of British humor in general: is it funnier than American humor? Or what about Canadian humor? Do you laugh at Candian jokes (not meaning jokes ABOUT Canadians)?

When I, as a Scandinavian, think about funny movies or books in Europe, neither Spain, Italy nor Greece comes to mind, because the humor in these countries seem to be too much up in your face, meaning that the jokes are served to you on a silver platter. You don´t have to think much to get the funny in the joke. I´ll give you an example after I present the influence of light:

The darker a place is, the darker the humor. It seems to me that series such as "The Golden Girls," if you remember them, is mostly light and giggly, even in the gravest of circumstances. In Denmark, the sitcom hasn´t ever worked and I tell you, it´s been tried a few times.

So, what IS the difference?

A few examples:
Well, let me give you a few examples of Danish humor and then you can decide if I am right about the two points above:

- from a viking legend:
"He had been sleeping with his sword right beside him all night, because he knew the other family would very likely avenge his killing. He was right. He woke up at the sound of noise outside, took his sword and opened the door. As it turned out, this was a bad idea. The father of the one he killed in a fair fight threw a spear from 200 yards out and it pierced right through his heart. Knowing this was the perfect death for a true viking he pulled together all of his strength and said to his friends and family: 'Nice shot!" - Then he died."

- from a justice book describing a trial against a man who had killed another man´s property (meaning a slave):
"Asked about the reason why he chopped off the slave´s head in the field, the accused answered: 'Well, he was stooped down in the perfect position for a clean and quick cut and my sword needed initiation'"

- from "In China they eat dogs" - a Danish Crime Comedy Film:
"a: 'I killed her'
b: 'Why?'
a: 'She took my TV'
b: 'Well, that not so good. We need to clean up'
a: nods his head
b: 'where did you leave her body?'
a: 'In the living room'
b: 'okay'
a: 'and the kitchen'"

- and finally from my own Flash Fiction "The Sissy Eunuch":
"Kate and I did our part populating the world and we love all of our five children. I suppose two or three would´ve been enough and every time we had another one we did make the decision to not have more.
But somehow, when we get in that mood, it´s like our brains are disconnected. I´ve tried to hold on to our decision: “No, honey” I´ve said numerous times, “we already are a family and we aren´t going to have any more children.”
It doesn´t help much when her uterus is screaming for more work. So I give in. And for some strange reason we always conceive at first attempt. Usually we never win the lottery, but when it comes to pregnancy we always win first price. Well, except for Milly maybe. I suppose she is more like a consolation prize."

Your turn!
What do YOU think: is there a cultural difference between Danish/Scandinavian and American humor?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Excerpt from "Hickory Street"

Hi folks,

Here´s another excerpt from my upcoming novel "Hickory Street"
I wonder if I´ve written it in such a way that it´s clear enough to understand what´s going on without it being too clear. Looking forward to any comment:

Presenting two teenage boys: Harm and Mike
Harm and Mike had found each other as friends from the very first day and their friendship grew tighter for each day that passed. The Friedenhoff couple were a bit surprised to see this. Mike had never been very interested in reading books, unless there were more pictures than words, but within just a few weeks he had actually been seen reading the Harry Potter series. Of course they were thrilled and even began to reconsider their decision to enroll him at summer school next year.

One Saturday they were both sitting in Mike´s room reading. Mike was holding the first part of “The Lord of the Rings” with both hands sitting in his bed with his feet up and his back to the window. He occasionally rotated the book to one side to get a better look at the pictures and nodded with content at them. Sometimes the pictures were so amazing that he had to look up and ask Harm to join him. Then they would both look at the pictures with their eyes dilated and their mouths half open.

Yes, those pictures in that book really were worth studying thoroughly, they agreed.

So, what do you think?
Is it clear enough? Is it too obvious? And mostly: is it funny or just plain boring?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Platform Wars! - helpful or destructive?

Apple Hypin´ Announcement!
Apple has announced that they will have an announcement by the end of the month. Not very surprising in itself. Apple has had much success using this form of advertising in the past to create speculation and rumurs and thus hyping the effect of their announcements when they actually announce their announcements... Confused? Don´t be!

Just understand it like this: Apple will tell us something that may or may not be of interest, but to be sure we are listening, they tell us that they are about to tell us something so that we will keep a close eye on them and be open minded when they finally come around to telling us what they want to tell us.

Ehm... I can see that didn´t help much... Well, let´s just say that Apple wants to tell us something by the end of this month...

What are they planning?
According to Good Ereader Apple is about to launch a self-publishing platform for ebook authors making it easier to publish your ebook through iBook.

So far, so good...

Amazon has had such a platform (DTP) for some time now and this will be Apple´s response.

Is it a good development?
I suppose that for Apple, Amazon and some of the other retailers in ebooks this is a natural course of action and though I agree that competition between companies is usually good for the consumer and for the international economy one thing pokes me right in the eye: they all have a catch! You have to give up your right to publish elsewhere!

See, when you are an indie author you are by definition concerned about your freedom to write, publish and earn your way as you see fit. Some may think this is a sort of arrogance towards the publishing industry, but understand that the publishing industry has flushed out the very ground base of it´s right to exist: Author Servicing!

In the old days, when you planned to publish a book you would send your manuscript to a publisher who would read it through and decide weither it was worth their effort to go further with it. If they found your manuscript worthy of publishing they would help you edit it, proof read it, create a cover for it, print it, advertise it and distribute it. All in some variation of cooperation.

Today, when you want to publish, the first step of getting a publisher to move on with your manuscript is still the same, but as soon as you get approved for publishing, you´re on your own! You edit it yourself, you proof read it yourself or ask a friend to help you with it, you get someone to create a cover for you (if you´re really lucky the publisher may do this for a certain fee) and if you want people to know about your book the entire marketing departement sits about 15 inches behind your laptop.

Considering all of this, the only advantage you have as an author publishing through the big dogs is the distribution process. No wonder more and more authors decide to become independent!

In comes in 2008 making it both easier and more effective to publish your work and the market changed. Now you can publish via Smashwords who will proof read your book before shipping it to other retailers among which are Barnes and Nobles, Kobo and.... well, whaddayounow: Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks!

Amazon´s DTP requires you to publish exclusively through Amazon and Apple´s new publishing platform? Surprise, surprise..... Exclusive Publishing!

Thank you, but no thank you!
Sorry guys, but I simply fail to see any reason whatsoever why I should renounce my freedom as an Indie Author to publish through those platforms as long as I can keep my freedom using

Smashwords does have a rule that resembles exclusiveness: you are not allowed to use the ebook formats created with Smashwords´ Meatgrinder automated tech. - but that seems only fair, since they are the ones providing that option. But you fellas at Apple and Amazon demands me to renounce my rights to my own work and that´s a whole different story!

The platform wars
This platform war is about to be derailed and from history we can learn that in the end only one platform survives - and in many cases the winning platform isn´t even the best.

Mainly two examples come to mind: the qwerty vs. Dvorak Keyboard Layouts and the VHS vs. BetaMax videotape war!

The qwerty keyboard was patented for type writers by Christopher Sholes in 1868 and the first to use it was Remington in 1873. At the time it made good sense, since it combined effective type writing with as little jamming of the keys as possible, but when the electric typewriter was invented in the 1930´s the jamming problem disappeared. Then Dvorak invented the Dvorak Keyboard Layout based on studies of physiologi and typing speed. It never was any real success because the cost of replacing a well proven type writer layout with a new one was just too risky.

The war between BetaMax and VHS was won by VHS even though almost every expert claimed the latter to be of poorer quality. The main reason was that the porn industry decided to use VHS.... food for thought in itself...

What´s the best ebook platform?
Honestly: I don´t know! But what I do know is that if I was asked to point out the one thing most important to an author, my answer would be simple:

The freedom to write and get read!

I believe I am not the only Author with this as my highest priority, but don´t take my word for it... Instead, comment on it, if you´re an author yourself and tell the world:

Your turn!
For you as an Author, what is the most important thing when it comes to publishing?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The good people of Hickory Street

Presenting the first chapter sketch

The good people of Hickory Street is an idea I´ve had for some time to take some of the odd characters I´ve met in my life and bring them all together in a story about a neighborhood where the rest of the world seems far, far away. Below the first sketch of the first chapter, which I hope you will comment:

Chapter 1: Presenting Hickory Street

It looks quite ordinary, Hickory Street in Walnut Port, but it really isn´t. If you were a tourist driving through it would seem like any other street in small town USA. A few closed factories, a worn down school and a small mechanics shop with rust deterred signs hanging from the last eye at the wall. Scattered between these sorrow excuses for commercial and public building people live in houses that are as well kept as is possible with the means they have at their disposal.

But if for some strange reason you would decide to make a stop to see the town, you would get a whole other perspective on Hickory Street.

In number five the Friedenhoffs, a family of six children and their parents. They are a bit too religious if you ask their neighbors, which would be a mistake. As a stranger you would get nothing else than a grunt or two - and that´s if you´re lucky. Most people get nothing at all.

Every Sunday Mr. and Mrs. Friedenhoff walk to their car, an old Volvo Station Wagon with extra seats in the back. They are dressed up for church and followed by their six well combed kids. Five of them look exactly like their father. The youngest boy not so much. No one knows why, but there are more than enough ideas to go around: the milk man, the post man, the pizza man, even the paper delivery boy, but that´s a bit over the edge. Of course no one says anything out loud. After all, one should be a good neighbor and keep such things to one self. So it´s only during the weekly bridge night at the Wilsons or the Hanssons the talk goes. They meet every Saturday to play bridge and to share a meal. It’s not the only sharing going on, but that´s a secret between Mrs. Hansson and Mr. Wilson. Well, actually one more person knows, but we´ll get to that later.

Further down the street we have the oldest house in town, a brick house from 1901. Old Mr. Hound has lived here for 20 some years and even then he was an old man. No one knows how old he really is, though. Mr. Hound fully lives up to his name. He looks like a bulldog and both his voice and his temper fits perfectly.

There is a narrow window from his bathroom and out to the street, no more than 12 inches sideways. Sometimes he gets really angry about things only he knows about - if he actually does - and starts shouting out that window. Again, if you were a tourist just passing by you would be witness to the strangest scenario:

First the sound of the window being slammed against the brass pipe. The good people of Hickory street stopping whatever they are doing and turning their heads towards Hickory Street number 5. Then an old rusty voice crying out: “IDONEED AWAKEUP INDA MORNIN BYDA SOUNDODEMKIDS CRYIN AND SCREAMIN LIKE PIGS BEIN FED! - murmur, murmur - NOONE EVER LISTENS ANYMORE ANDAKIDS NOWADAYSAVE NO SPECT FOR DE ELDERLY ANYMORE!”

The good people of Hickory Street would be standing still and patiently waiting for him to finish. Then he would give the salute that marked the end of his speech: “YA GATIT, IDIOTS! YA GATIT!” and then the sound of the window being slammed shut. Then a few seconds of silence and the window would once again be opened and the final salute be repeated: “YA GATIT, IDIOTS! YA GATIT!”


Silence for a few more seconds and people would go back to what they were doing before.

Mr. Hound has a dog, too. It´s said that most dog owners look like their dog, but in Mr. Hound´s case there is no resemblance whatsoever. Molly looks like an old wrinkled version of Lassie. Mr. Hound loves that dog and takes her for hours of walks every single day. Right in the middle of the street he walks with it. It´s not that he sees the street as his property, but he just hasn´t been able to keep up with the development of the world and hasn´t realized that people actually use the streets when driving. The good people of Walnut Port know this and patiently slow down and the traffic is smooth. Slow, but smooth.

When Molly needs to empty her stomach she sits down right on the spot and does her thing. Mr. Hound has respect for other people and moves the poo to the side of the street. He doesn´t use his hands, of course. That would be disgusting. Instead he takes out his comb from his back pocket and use it to trill the poo inch by inch till it´s out of harm’s way and then puts the comb back where it belongs.

On the corner of Hickory Street and Main Street there is a small house with a flat roof. A woman of indeterminable age was living there. You know: the kind of person that looks the same kind of old from weither they are 50 years old or 100 years old. Her name was Susan and she was no taller than 5 feet.

The house was placed a bit back on the property and on the front there were rows and columns of grave stones for sale. Every once in a while a truck would pull up and two broad shouldered men with hair between their teeth would lift the stones one by one off of the truck and set them on display using straps.

One day one of the regulars had died and a new guy replaced him. He was a younger man, about 35 years old or so and he seemed like the kind of man you didn´t want to get in trouble with.

As usual they started loading of the truck as Stone Susan came out to them complaining how they handled the stones:

"Set those stones down on a straight line!" she yelled, "how am I supposed to sell anyting if you just toss them wherever you like!? People would think this is a jewish graveyard that isn´t cared for!"

The new guy certainly wasn´t going to put up with that kind of verbal abuse, so he yelled back at her: "Do you have any idea how heavy these things are? You better behave, Lady! We´re doing the best we can!"

 But Stone Susan wasn´t ready to let it go. "Oh, please, just do your jobs! Are you men or are you mice?" she said with contempt.

The new guy had just about enough and he looked her straight in the eye and pulled what he thought was an ace: "If you don´t stop this right now, you can bl....y unload the stones yourself!" He looked to his partner with a winners smile, but much to his surprise his partner suddenly dropped everything he had in his hands and jumped in behind the steering wheel and shut the door!

If Stone Susan was in a good mood that day or she just gave him some ekstra slack because he was new is still a mystery, but she didn´t say anything.

Instead she just stepped up to the back of the truck, put her short arms around the nearest stone, lifted it off with her bare hands and placed it on the ground as if it was an empty card board box... The new guy stood completely still, baffled by what had just happened and the man playing hide and seek in the truck cautiously opened the door and being convinced that the danger was over he stepped out and joined his partner.

After a short silence, the men finished unloading the truck and none of them, nor Susan, ever talked about it since. 

Just across the street from number 5 there is an empty house and a sign saying “For Sale.” The sign is marked by dust and wind and the McKays living next to it secretly hopes it will stay that way. Mr. McKay owns Café Ireland at the corner of Hickory Street and Taylor Avenue and hopes that one day he can save enough money to buy that property to expand. But he does get his way and this is where our story really begins…

Monday, January 2, 2012

Chapter 6: Vasectomy

I´m not sure this chapter will be part of the book as I have a feeling it doesn´t move the story forward, but here it is for your enjoyment:

Chapter 6: Vasectomy

A superior once said to me that “if the potential gain is high enough and the risk of getting caught is low enough, we´re all thieves.” At the time, I protested, but today I´d have to agree. It´s like we have a basic urge to get what we want with no regard for others. Ethics and norms are built on top of our true nature due to society´s pressure and are working against it. Don´t get me wrong, it´s a good thing. Without these inhibitions no society can survive and no man can live without society. It´s just that we need to see things as they are in order to understand ourselves and our surroundings.

Why do I share these thoughts with you? Well, as my story goes on, I´m sure you will see how the above is important to understand why I did what I did, regardless of my actions being totally inexcusable.

A couple of months before John asked me to mind his profile I was at a clinic to get my strings detached so to speak. It was an experience like no other to sit in that waiting room being less of a man. It hurt like h… but I tried to not scare my fellow sufferers greeting all the incoming casualties of the women´s liberation with a forced smile on my face. No one ever told me how to do this. It´s almost as if it´s printed into my genes how to conduct myself as I wait for the final go from the nurse: “the anesthesia have worn out and you seem to be OK, so you´re good to go. Do you have someone to drive you home?” the white lady asked one of my predecessors. He didn´t say anything, just nodded. It´s easier. Bodylanguage and facial expressions are controllable, but the voice is a whole different matter. The pitch alone discloses the excruciating torture they put you through in there and somehow a secret society rises among those who had the incision done. It´s unspoken of but we all do it. We pretend it´s no big deal. Like there´s no real pain. Piece of cake with whipped cream on top. No reason to scare the uninitiated potential members of the eunuch society.

But perhaps it´s about something else. Perhaps it´s just pre-cut me appreciating my predecessors’ acting performances and wanting to return the favor with a hiding smile and a bit of close-up newspaper reading.

The day the doctor informed me about the procedure this never came up. It was a whole different agenda. “Just relax,” my doctor had said, “Your libido will not be affected and your erection will be the same. So will your ability to ejaculate and you will have orgasms just like before.”

I´m not a male chauvinist, but that day I would´ve preferred a male doctor. Having some woman taking about my privates like that made me feel a bit uncomfortable and I´m quite sure I didn´t ask about all that. But I suppose she just ceased the opportunity.

We did our part to populate the world and we love all of our five children. I suppose two or three would´ve been enough and every time we had another one we decided to stop. But somehow, when we get in that mood, it´s like our brains are disconnected. I´ve tried to hold on to our decision: “No, honey” I´ve said numerous times, “we already are a family and we aren´t going to have any more children” but it doesn´t help much when her uterus is screaming for more work. So I give in. But after our youngest boy was conceived we decided to put a cork in it. I put in for the vasectomy and made sure that surgery would be scheduled before he was born, so that there was no way we could change our minds.

When the next poor sucker came out from the O.R. his face was torn in agony, but immediately after he saw all the men in the waiting room the statutes of sterilized men were effectuated and all of his muscles fell into a forced relaxation. Then he walked in a slow paste towards the coffee vendor and grabbed a strategic hot cup while doing some recon on the softest spot to sit.

The next victim was called in and I followed him in my thoughts. When it had been my turn, I didn´t even get the chance to say hello to the surgeon before the first pain shook through my body. It was a different experience to enter the O.R. where a hot nurse said hello. Did she just wink at me and lick her lips? “Please take of your trousers and panties. I am going to get some anesthetic ointment to lubricate you with” she said. Panties? I fought my urge to defend my manhood and did was I was told and then laid down on the operating table. Then she returned with a yellow smudge on her hands, grabbed my thingy and started lubricating as if she was preparing a Thanks Giving Turkey.

Auch! It hurt like being continuously stung by a giant wasp the size of a dog! My entire nerve system was put on full alert flashing lamps in all the colors of the rainbow in my head and my heart was beating in a paste that almost rose to an A-pitch singing like the fat lady in an opera.

“What´s happening?” the doctor asked bewildered when he came in. “Nothing,” the hottie said, “he´s adjusting to the anastethic… [Murmur, murmur…]” I couldn´t hear that last bit exactly, but I´m almost sure I heard the word “sissy.”

I didn’t feel the knife making the incision but it hurt all the way to my teeth every time he pulled one of the strings and detached them. And every time my eyes twitched I got the sissy-look from the nurse.

“Right!” she said, “You´re done. You can put your clothes on again and take a seat in the waiting room.” Are you sure about that? I thought to myself, but I didn’t say anything. She still had absolute power and I wasn’t about to question her authority.

Then the same procedure as everyone of my fellow victims: tiptoes, a hiding smile and strategic withdrawal to a corner with a clear view to potential attackers.

“Hi, honey.” It was Kate. She hadn’t brought the kids. Good call. She looked at me with sympathy and for the first time I wished I was back with the nurse giving me the sissy-look. “Are you done?” she asked. What a choice of words! “Yes, I´m done. I´m just waiting for the anesthetics to wear off and the nurse to give me a go.”

We sat there for a while saying nothing and once again I appreciated Kates wisdom. I was glad it was over. Never again would anyone put sharp steel to my genitals!

Then Kate looked up from her news paper.

“So…” she said, “have you been scheduled for removal of the stitches yet?”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Slippery Slide - minding another´s adultery

When John asks Bill to mind his profile on Victorias Secret, a web site for married people who wants to have an affair, Bill declines, but somehow he can´t seem to get out of it and suddenly he finds himself not only minding John´s profile, but also his escapades. The story takes twists and turns and from a humorous point brings the reader to think about how modern day society influences our way of life.

Beneath is the first chapter for your enjoyment and the Author would very much appreciate any comments and suggestions:

Chapter 1: Couple´s Therapy?

“Couples therapy?” I said and grabbed an after-football beer from the box.

I was used to the strange ideas John came up with, but this one really took the prize.

“How can cheating on your wife ever be like couples therapy?” I asked, knowing in my every bone it probably wasn´t a good idea to ask him to elaborate.

He looked like a boy who just opened his Christmas present to discover he got exactly the one thing he had wished for the most. “Well, it´s obvious,” he explained, “what is the back bone in every marriage?”

Various answers came up in my head: Trust, an open mind, listening to each other, giving without expecting and a few others. But I have to admit that John´s answer never crossed my mind.

“Power distribution!” he said and took a zip from his beer. Then he continued in a school teacher sort of way: “The outcome of the power struggle between husband and wife determines how the marriage goes,” he said and looked like he thought himself a real expert with no less than four wrecked marriages on his sheet. “If you don´t grab the bigger piece of power, she will!” he continued.

This was the point where I really felt I had to protest. “But surely,” I said, “A marriage is about trust and love and being faithful to each other?”

John didn´t agree. In fact, he became quite agitated and just before he spoke I remembered he had a bit of a grudge against women´s rights activists. Probably because his first wife ran off with a friend from a civil rights group so fast she had mud slapping up her back.

“Now, let me tell you something,” he said, “those feminists have only one plan: to rip us of our manhood. They lie to us to make us think that there is something wrong with being a real man. But I gotta tell ya, part of being a man is to never cease an opportunity to spread out your genes. It´s just like investing. No one in their right mind put all their money on just one stock. You gotta spread your investments a little.”

“When you invest money, yeah,” I said, “but we´re not talking money here, we´re talking about love and about having a family. If you can´t trust each other in a marriage it´s not really a marriage…”

“That´s where you´re wrong,” he said, “you mark my words, if you wanna keep the power in your marriage, you gotta shake it up a bit. Get the feel that the women doesn´t own you. That´s how you get the upper hand.”

It really wasn´t an invitation to being bawdy, but Guzzle-George and Biff had an amazing talent for moving everything to a lower level. Up till now they had been busy stepping with their feet in the yellow water under the showers but now they both lit up in a quirky smile. “Yeah!” George said looking at Biff who picked up the queue at once. “And if you have the upper hand, she has her hand under yours and then you control where she places it…”

The roar of their laughter sling shot against the tiles of the shower room and disappeared down the drain with the last drop of lazy urine and it was clear that any chance of serious conversation had just disappeared the same way.