As a writer, it is important to supply just the right word at the right time to carry a paragraph, a page, a scene. There have been times I've studied a Thesaurus, called friends, debated with critique members, and rewritten a scene ten times before I realized it was one word, one lousy, detestable word snarling the scene.
I just got back from an extended weekend at the coast with my parents and my sister from Vermont. We went to a Mexican restaurant while in Rockaway Beach and I was wise enough to sit next to my mother. My father tends to elbow the person next to him continually, to gain their attention. My sister was suffering the blows while helping him understand the menu.
"Now, Dad, with this one you can get guacamole. Do you like guacamole? "
"What is that?" he asked.
She explained and so did my mother. He grunted. My sister went on, suggesting some other items she thought he might enjoy. We ordered and when the waitress brought the steaming meals, my mother looked across the table at my father's plate. "Where is his guacamole?"
My sister, little tufts of hair falling from her chignon, and her hand rubbing her arm closest to my father, said, "Oh, that was a different...a different...that was a different..."
Since I've sat next to my father for an entire five hour flight from Massachusetts to Portland, I recognized the signs of distress from the elbow treatment. Certain she was looking for words such as "menu item" or delicious entree" or "burrito supreme," I couldn't come up with anything. I finally asked, "Thing?"
"Thing. Yes, that was a different thing," she said. Her glance reached mine. "Thank you, Melanie, for supplying just the right word."
I curled my fingers over, blew on my fingernails and polished them on my shirt. With an arrogant tilt of my head, I said, "Yeah, I'm a writer."