The Worst Thing I Almost Did
Entertainment follows a specific pattern. A character is defined, they encounter difficulty, which leads to action followed by resolution. A classic example is Luke Skywalker learning the truth about his father. The audience loved the suspense, the surprise, and the amazing aftermath. Real life has similar dramatic moments and people appreciate the drama of resolving their own issues.
In life and in a story, we appreciate a beginning middle and end. We don’t often consider something that might have happened to be a relevant circumstance. I am referring to something different from a narrow escape such as a person starting a fight and then narrowly escape being punched. The person would learn that it is not a good idea to get into fights. My topic is slightly different; allow me to explain.
Around the age of 20, I went to the movies with a friend. Afterward, we walked toward the parking lot. Near our car, we came across an 18-year-old walking (away from us) with his father. This kid had gone out of his way to look like a complete punk. He had put in safety pin piercings all around his head, grotesquely shaved off his hair with orange/yellow hair dye and wore a satanic shirt. A great example of all that is wrong with society.
Well, this obscene sight upset me and I decided to do something about the idiot who ruined my evening with his deplorable personal choices. I walked up to him with the intent of saying, “You look terrible!” I actually planned to say something far worse, but this blog is intended to attract friendly readers.
When I came to him in anger, my opinion changed. The 12-year-old boy had been severely burned and his entire face looked radically disfigured. The severe damage made him look a lot older. The safety pins were actually surgical staples from a recent reconstruction operation. The majority of his hair would never grow back and what little remained had been stained by orange antiseptic around the staples. His “satanic” shirt upon closer inspection proclaimed his survival success at a Christian youth camp. The boy smiled at me. I immediately understood the sight before me as a happy child with his father who had just attended their first movie together after a traumatic event.
I walked away feeling like the biggest jerk in the world. To this day, I reflect upon that moment and I believe the experience helped me to become a better person.
It is difficult to write a character that experienced an event like this. Bill almost insulted a boy and then he felt bad. Why? It would read a lot better if Bill actually insulted the boy and then the boy began crying. Side note, the smile crushed me even more than his crying ever would have. At that moment, the boy became a bigger man than myself.
Readers cannot relate to a near event. “Bill thought about the incident for weeks.” Why? Technically, Bill didn’t do anything wrong. So, the kid smiled at him. Big deal. Hey Bill! Man up and move on! No harm, no foul.
This incident highlights the limitations of writing. My feelings about the incident are valid but abstract. The kid’s smile defines the moment, and that’s not logical. The defining moment should have revolved around painful conflict.
Well. What can we conclude? Number one. Be careful who you insult. Number two. Life is complex and rarely predictable. Number three. Real life can be difficult to write about and readers will not necessarily relate to an incident in the same way as the author. Number four. It’s fun to explore these topics.

You’re the best -Bill
May 15 2019

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