Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Turn of Phrase

Years ago, my wife and I went to see a local bodybuilding contest. It was sponsored by, and connected to, a venue associated with, of all things, a Chinese restaurant. Locals, amateurs, and back when the women still looked like women and not men in bikinis, and the men appeared human and not shaved and oiled great apes -- Kreegah! Tarzan! Bundalo!

If anybody was juicing, it was a small enough stack so it didn't show up to discerning eyes.
They looked like fitness models look today: Ripped, fit -- not bloated, yellow, no raging acne ...

Many of the contestants were nervous, this apparently their first time on a stage, and they looked skittish as they went through their poses.

One of the young women doing her routine had friends and family sitting next to us, and as is common at such events, they were calling out encouragement and directions: "Lats! Let's see those lats!" Or "Abs! Abs! Crunch 'em!"

The young woman was obviously teetering on the edge of stage fright when the guy sitting next to me, a boyfriend or brother or whomever, yelled out: "Show us some teeth!"

That got the poser to smile, and she relaxed a bit and went through the rest of her routine with a bit more confidence.

Show us some teeth. What a great line.

He could have just said, "Smile!" but in that moment, what he said was more evocative -- and it got her to do that, plus it tickled her.

Tickled me, too. My notebook came out and I scribbled that one down. As a writer, you are always listening for these little gems, a word or turn of phrase that exactly nails a feeling or action perfectly. When you hear one, grab it. You never know when it will be just the thing you need to make a line, a paragraph, maybe even a page, sing.

2 comments:

Dan Moran said...

"The violence we know is a thing of beauty to us."

Some schmuck at a bar. But it stayed with me and made it into my file.

J.D. Ray said...

Every once in a while, a clear note rings out in the clamor of our surroundings. It's good that someone is capturing them.

I was just reading through the latest bunch of stuff on the Shit My Dad Says feed. If you haven't seen it, check out http://twitter.com/shitmydadsays. I was reminded of it by a link to the "me too" site Shit My Kids Ruined, which is kind of amusing as well (http://shitmykidsruined.com, if you're curious). The quotes from the first site, though, will bring tears to your eyes.