Thursday, May 15, 2008

How do I put this...

Many people think writing is difficult because they struggle with the use of words to express themselves. I often find speaking, or "mouth writing", difficult for the same reason.

Recently, friends of mine were affected by a fire. They're fine. But what was probably your initial, perfectly natural reaction ("Dear God, a fire!!" or "AIIIIIIEEEEE!!!") to that information is kind of what I'm talking about. This fire caused enough havoc to cause a social gathering to be postponed. Today, I found myself communicating with a mutual friend who hadn't heard about the postponement or the reason why it was necessary. My dilemma was how to discuss the subject without freaking them out:

  • "First of all, don't worry, everybody is fine..." Nope, that won't work.
  • "Well, did you see that fire on the news the other night?" Uh-uh
  • "There was...an incident" Too vague, sure to induce panic
  • "There was a fire. So no party." Too blunt, and more than a tad insensitive to boot
  • "Since the dawn of time, man has struggled to control the power of flame. Many times, he has failed..." Too dramatic
  • "I guess if you think having a party is something that people who are putting their lives back together after a fire would enjoy..." Too passive aggressive
  • "Fire! Bad! Arrrghh!!" Too Frankenstein

Fortunately, there had been an email that explained the whole situation and this person hadn't seen it yet. So I was able to defer to that saying, "oh yeah, we're not getting together tonight...it's all in the email." Whew! If that hadn't been the case, I still don't know how I would have gotten out of that one.

3 comments:

citizen jane said...

"Mouth writing". That's great -- and with more truth in it than people realize.

I once had to tell an actor friend that while he was on stage, his car, parked in front of the theater, had been broken into. My lead-in: "I hate to be the one to tell you this, but..." Classic example of poor mouth writing.

Anonymous said...

I think it was ridiculous that they cancelled the party. I really wanted some bean dip. Fire shmire, I say.

Wildhair said...

"Do you have a minute? When you're in a place where you won't embarrass me by over reacting, we need to chat."
How's that?