Thursday, April 29, 2010

Annoying Characters! by DL Larson

If I was to create an annoying character that included many of my pet peeves, she might turn out to be something like this:

She'd be in her early thirties, wearing dirty pajama pants and a ratty Tshirt with the saying, "51% Angel, 49% Bitch ... Don't Push Me." The temptation to do just that makes me shake with anticipation. Her fingernails are bright pink, freshly manicured and her two preschoolers have bedhead, and it's nearly noon.

Beneath the sign on the library wall "Please turn off your cell phones," she yaps loudly into her tiger-striped phone, laughs even louder and acts as if everyone in the room should hear her enticing conversation as she proclaims she can't do a thing with her boys. 'It's HOPELESS.' Of course the children are across the way pretending their ears don't work, but know she's just given them permission to misbehave. So, of course, as if prompted, they start acting out!

She returns her books to my desk, ignoring the puppet fight her boys have instigated. I immediately retrieve my cleaner because the books are so sticky I couldn't possibly put them away without wiping them first. The DVD is either broken, chewed, stepped on, or empty. She makes no excuse, simply shrugs her shoulders when I tell her of the problem. "Oh, one of the boys wanted to play with it. I told them not to. They never listen." Then she too as if in a play, turns to her boys, "Now Mrs. Deb is mad at us. We owe her lots of money. We can't go to McDonald's until we pay her." The boys in unison drop to the floor, wailing, nary a tear squeezed out from their performance, but mom is really getting into it now. "I told you not to break the DVD. I told you Mrs. Deb would be mad at you." I now have the over-powering urge to rip her stupid Tshirt off her chubby body and wear it myself! "And now, we can't take out any more books or DVDs because we owe her so much money." More flaying about from the boys, their wails crescendo and other mothers decide it's time to leave. I smile, wishing I could escape too.

I hand out suckers or treats to my little friends as quietly as I can, but no, I did not succeed and the two naughty boys want suckers tooooooooooo! I don't reward bad behavior and so ignore them. I know five minutes without mom these boys would act perfectly fine, but mom loves drama and so once again Mrs. Deb becomes the bad guy in her performance. "Mrs Deb is mad at you. She's not going to give you suckers."

If ever there was time for parental intervention this is it. I approach the boys, squatting down to their level, ignoring mom. "Timmy, Johnny, what do you like best about coming to the library?" We sit for awhile there on the floor as the boys talk over each other, but their faces are eager and animated. We talk about treating things gently, we talk about protecting books and DVDs so we can use them again and again. We talk about where broken books and DVDs go when they don't work anymore. Mom is back on the phone ignoring us and for that I am truly thankful. The boys and I make a pact to try harder to be careful with books and DVDs from the library. Their little faces look earnest and I smile, bribing them a bit. "If you put all the puppets and puzzles away like you found them, I bet I could find you each a sucker." They scramble to accomodate me.

Mom is laughing again, saying, "Mrs. Deb just got the boys to pick up their mess. I don't know how she does it. They won't do a thing I say." I grit my teeth and return to my desk, knowing my little talk won't last long because mom would rather live in chaos.


I don't know if I could stand to use this annoying character in a book, but I sure feel better getting her on paper and out in the open. Even perfect jobs like being a children's librarian has its icky or rather sticky situations.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

6 comments:

Morgan Mandel said...

It's fun to vent, isn't it?

Morgan Mandel

Kay said...

I knew there was a reason I'm a hermit.

Stephen Tremp said...

I have a somewhat annoying character but he's also humerous and loveable. I think with this balance an author can get away with an annoying character. My guy Bennie Knowles is modeled after Jack Black and Seth Rogin. Either of these actors could play Bennie if a movie was made from my book.

Stephen Tremp

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I created an annoying and abrasive character and it resulted in my best reviewed book to date. Go figure!

Rob said...

Can't recall the character's name but in Wuthering Heights there was a country fellow who was kind of the handyman, and he spoke with such a thrick Scottish brogue that the reader could not understand a word...and one edition of the book has a glossary just for him so if you wish to bother looking up every line you could....uggghhhh! Bad form. With people who use accents and colloquial speech if not handled subtly and well it becomes too much effort for the reader. A little goes a long way. Mark Twain was masterful at it; most everyone else is not.

Rob said...

Can't recall the character's name but in Wuthering Heights there was a country fellow who was kind of the handyman, and he spoke with such a thrick Scottish brogue that the reader could not understand a word...and one edition of the book has a glossary just for him so if you wish to bother looking up every line you could....uggghhhh! Bad form. With people who use accents and colloquial speech if not handled subtly and well it becomes too much effort for the reader. A little goes a long way. Mark Twain was masterful at it; most everyone else is not.