Note: MAN and WES are acronyms for Muse by Any other Name and Wit’s End Scribbler.
Sheldon Shows Up
MAN: Well, it’s about time. I was beginning to think you’d never get here.
WES: What? Who’s that?
MAN: It’s me, er, I mean it is I.
WES: Who’s I, uh me, I mean you? Who are you? Where are you?
MAN: I’m not surprised you don’t recognize me. You’ve been avoiding me so long it’s a wonder you’ve decided to acknowledge me at all. By the way, all those quotes and notes you’ve been collecting all these years. That stuff is really piling up–books, yellow legal pads, file boxes. You really need to do something about that closet. I was getting pretty cramped in there.
WES: Yes, I know. I’ve been meaning to get to that. But what do you mean, avoiding you? I can’t even see you. Who . . .? Oh, dear. Are you . . . God?
MAN: God?! No, of course not. You recognized Him a long time ago. But I will say He’s the reason you’re finally able to hear me now.
WES: Hear who now? Who are you?
MAN: I’m your muse. And, by the way, it’s “hear whom now.”
WES: Oh, for . . . My what?
MAN: Your muse. You know, one of those unseen inspirational guides to the exalted world of the arts. In your case, it’s writing. You have decided to give writing a try, haven’t you?
WES: Yes, but how did you know?
MAN: I told you, I’m your muse. I’ve been following you around for years waiting for you to finally make up your mind. Once you did that, I was free to do my job and help you along. I must say, though, you certainly took your sweet time. You’re not getting any younger you know.
WES: Nice! But you still haven’t told me your name. You do have a name, haven’t you?
MAN: Of course, I have a name. It’s Sheldon.
WES: Sheldon?!! You’re kidding, right?
MAN: No, I’m not kidding. Why are you laughing?
WES: Are you serious? Sheldon?? Whoever heard of a muse named Sheldon?
MAN: As of this moment, you have.
The Classics . . . and a Little History
WES: No offense but isn’t a muse supposed to have some exotic, classical name like Erato or Calliope, or Terpsichore–something like that?
MAN: At least you actually know of the classical muses. All those years in college classrooms weren’t for nothing after all.
WES: Now, wait just a minute.
MAN: As I said, I’ve been waiting–for years. Look. Let’s not quibble. If you were meant to write poignant love poetry then Erato’s your girl. Epic poetry like the Iliad or the Odyssey? That would be Calliope. As for Terpsichore: What do you know about dancing and singing? Those tap dancing lessons when you were five don’t count. And, by the way, I’ve heard your singing. Have you considered just humming?
WES: Hey! So I’m no Ginger Rogers or Doris Day. My alto’s not that bad, though.
MAN: If you say so. And be careful; you’re showing your age. But we were talking about writing. You’ve already written several things lately, especially those humorous poems for your friends.
WES: I know. But I’ve always aspired to more thoughtful writing. You know, serious essays on the evils of the world–war, corruption, crime, our decaying culture. I’ve always been interested in those kinds of things. That’s why I watch all those historical documentaries and crime shows. Even the news. I was a news reporter for a while, you know.
MAN: Yes, I know. But have you noticed lately how frequently you turn off the news because it’s so depressing you just can’t take any more? I mean, it’s frickin’ awful!
WES: That’s true. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming how bad things are. But it seems like I should be doing more about it. Educating people, inspiring them. Making a difference.
MAN: Of course, you do. That’s part of your nature–a kind of warrior poet quality, you might say. And a very admirable one, too. But there already are lots of people out there doing that kind of thing, sounding the alarm. People need a break from all that gloom and doom, same as you. How about lightening things up a little? Your poems do that; they’re entertaining. And haven’t people complimented you on them, said how much they’ve enjoyed them?
WES: Yes, they have. They’ve even told me I should write for a living. It’s all been very encouraging and I’m very grateful.
MAN: Right! And that’s what got you off your cautious mental butt and made you decide to give it a try. It’s been in you since you were a kid. You tried writing early on, remember? In the sixth grade you were writing about the adventures of a little girl orphaned in an Indian raid on a wagon train. Your teacher, Mrs. Kaiser, paid you a great compliment by reading it to the class. And what about that poem, “My Comrade,” the one you wrote in high school about the soldier whose buddy was killed in battle? Pretty heavy stuff. You got an “A” for that.
WES: Yes, but that was a long time ago. Kid’s stuff.
MAN: Serious kid’s stuff. You may write more serious things again in the future, but for now funny stuff is what’s getting you the kudos. And think of all the crazy things that have happened to you in the past couple of years. Lots of funny material there. So, go for it!
WES: You don’t think I’d be abandoning my “warrior poet” by writing this goofy stuff do you? It seems almost too easy. I mean, serious writing is hard work; I’ve really struggled on some of the things I’ve written in order to get it right.
MAN: Look, humorous writing–what you call the “goofy stuff”–is work, too. You know that. Think of the hours you spend trying to create the right effect, not to mention all the editing and revisions. That’s real work. It just seems easy because you have a talent for it.
WES: H-m-m. I hadn’t thought of it that way. You don’t think I’d be just “settling” then? I mean, your name is Sheldon.
MAN: It worked for Erma Bombeck, didn’t it?!! And what about P. J. O’Rourke and Dave Barry? Or Oscar Wilde, for gods’ sakes?!!
WES: Alright. Alright. I get it. Humor is good. I’ll try it. Just don’t expect me to be Oscar Wilde.
MAN: Not much chance of that. He was brilliant.
WES: Ho, ho. Very funny.
MAN: Look, you’ve spent your whole life trying to figure out what to do with it. Do this. What’s that quote by Teddy Roosevelt? You ought to know; it’s in a frame on your desk.
WES: “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” And that’s President Theodore Roosevelt. Show some respect.
MAN: Anyway!! You can write. You’re here (for the time being anyway). And . . .
WES: My, you’re a real day brightener, aren’t you?
MAN: And . . . you have me, your muse.
WES: Oh, joy. A muse named Sheldon.
MAN: See here. I’ve waited most of your life for you to figure this all out. Get over the name thing! Besides, I’m the reason your writing seems easy lately. You would do well to remember that I do what I can with what I have, too. Do you want my help or not?
WES: Okay. Yes, I would appreciate your help.
MAN/SHELDON: Good. Now get to work. I’m going to watch TV. They’re showing a Three Stooges movie that I’ve been wanting to see.
© 2011, The Wit’s End Scribbler