Friday, September 12, 2008

You're a Nation

There is a type of book in children’s literature that should probably have its own genre. I’d name the genre “body fluid books.” These are the ones in which the author describes in detail and at length the [fill in the body fluid of your choice] as it flows/spurts/oozes from the character’s pores/orifices/wounds. These descriptions are often seen as something that will appeal to boys and, indeed, a “boy book” hardly seems complete without one. Personally, I’ve never had a desire to read paragraphs about snot, piss or puss, so it is surprising that I am sharing the dream I am about to.
I had this dream at the recent Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in LA. For those who have never been, about 1000 writers for children attend this wonderful conference each year. Nine out of ten of them are women. The organizers, in their wisdom, take over some of the men’s rooms for use by the women. The women seem pleased with this arrangement and the men are only too happy to comply, because the restroom left to us has a sitting room with a couch and chairs, something we guys aren’t used to, so we feel we are in the lap of luxury despite having only one restroom.
So that situation might explain why I had this dream:
I was at a giant warehouse sale – a sort of BigLots of my dreams. The store was going to close in 5 minutes. I needed to buy some bath towels, but first I really had to pee.
I went to the men’s room, but the sale was so crowded that a group of women had taken it over for their own needs. There was a line leading through the door and up to the stalls. Fortunately, the urinals were across the room in their own little alcove.
“Pardon me,” I said, “but nature calls.” And I walked across to the little alcove, angling myself properly so no one could see a thing.
But suddenly, the women were all around me, even though it was quite obvious that none of them had any business being there.
Now I am rather shy and with all the staring there was just no way, if you know what I mean. One of the younger women pointed to me and said “uh-uh…Daddy can’t do his business.”
“What,” I snapped in reply, “do women hold hands or something when they urinate!”
“Sometimes,” she said.
Just then, the great English actress, Hermione Gingold, walked in with her retinue. She was wearing a large, fur-trimmed overcoat and carried a cane. Seeing the commotion, she approached the alcove.
“I bet she knows the proper etiquette,” I said to those around me, “Tell me Dame Hermione, what is the proper distance for a woman to stand away from a man when he is urinating?”
“Eight feet, to the tip of her nose.” She replied, her stentorian voice not missing a beat.
“You see,” I told Miss Daddy-Can’t-Do, “I knew this was just a problem of education and not cultural difference!”
Then I woke up.
I often get ideas for my books from my dreams, but I think I’ll just leave this one alone… though “eight feet to the tip of her nose” just might turn up as a line of dialogue somewhere along the way.