Mannequin Monday – You Make the Rules
You decide what the mannequin wears. You dress the blank form. Your words. Your vision. Your rules.
Advice from a business writer and from a poet. You make the rules.
I mark one year of these Mannequin Monday posts today.
And I offer a brief story of my own. Enjoy your week.
What I’m Reading
This week marks post #52 in the Mannequin Monday blog series. I believe what so many say: 80% of success is showing up. And thanks to you for showing up to read my thoughts. You are always welcome here.
Yesterday I received a weekly newsletter from B2B writer Ed Gandia. Ed runs his own copywriting business. In this issue he offers advice about determining deposit amounts you can ask of a client. Ed says:
“Most good prospects are willing to comply with what YOU want. And once you understand this, you’ll get more confidence to make other improvements in your business standards.
Remember: YOU make the rules.
There’s no board of governors deciding what you must do. There’s no union. No upper management from which to get approval.
It’s up to you. You have full reign over how you operate your business.”
A good piece of advice I can see working in other walks of life. You make the rules. Segue! This reminds me of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem The Art of Disappearing. Here are a few lines. You can read the entire poem here.
When they say Don’t I know you?/ say no.
If they say We should get together/ say why?
When someone recognizes you in a grocery store/ nod briefly and become a cabbage.
Direct, almost harsh, advice. Dodge the distractions. Dodge even those you love, at times. There is no politeness about these words.
And Nye tells us why:
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
Who’s in control? Whether writing your story, or living your story, each of us decides.
What I’m Writing
This week I took a story I posted here in August of last year and tried to take it in a new direction. Seeing what the characters would do differently.
The Girl in the Flatbed Ford
Matt Briggs sat on a bench at the edge of a mall parking lot, a quarter mile from the off ramp where his last hitch dropped him. He held a cardboard LA sign damp with his sweat, backpack and guitar case at his feet.
A dark green flatbed Ford drove past. The girl driving slowed as she turned to have a look at him. She parked farther out where there was room for her truck.
She walked towards Briggs. Jeans, a faded red tee, worn cowboy boots. Her sun-bleached ponytail flashed in the sunlight. She pointed to his sign. “Headed to LA?”
“I’m headed in your direction. If you wait, I’ll drive you part way.”
Briggs smiled. “Sounds good. How long?”
“Long enough to eat a pizza. I mobile-ordered.”
“Tell me – gluten free, veggies, fake cheese.”
“Fooled me,” Briggs said.
“Not hard, I see.”
He put up his hands in surrender. “Got me.”
She said, “I can share. Hungry?”
They sat outdoors at a metal table, steel chairs squealing on the concrete.
She opened the box, grabbed a slice. “What’s in LA?”
He shrugged. “A job, I hope. I know a guy runs a food truck. He needs help. Or he can get me in at a craft services company.”
“Where you coming from?”
“The Bay area. Worked a grill for the last six months.”
“Tired of it?” She chewed her pizza slowly, watching his face.
He sipped a Coke. “Tired of the place. If I see another hipster with a long beard, I’ll throw up.”
She laughed. “A bit biased, are we?”
He chewed off another bite. Waited to answer. Had no answer.
“You think you’ll lose that vibe in LA?”
“Nah. Just different. I hope.”
“No girl left behind up north?”
He looked at her over his pizza slice. “Talk about biasses…is it always a broken down love?”
“When is it not?” she asked.
Once more he shrugged. His signature move.
Wonderful, till she cheated on me.
“What was she like?” ponytail asked.
“Wonderful…till she cheated on me.”
“Then how did she cheat on you?”
“You saying it was my fault?” He leaned in.
“I’m saying, she’s free till she promises herself, right?”
“Not how I see it.”
She pointed a finger at him. “You’re not seeing it right.”
“Isn’t a year together enough of a promise?”
“Not in my book.” She held out her left hand. “While this finger is empty, she’s free.”
“What about you?” Briggs said. “I don’t see a ring on your hand.”
“And you never will.”
As they crossed the parking lot toward her truck, he asked, “Where are you actually headed?”
He tipped his head toward her. “A guy?”
She shook her head. “A horse. Checking out a mare I might buy.”
Briggs climbed into her truck, stashed his gear under his feet.
“If traffic is good, we should be in Burbank in under an hour.”
“So, you into horses?”
She nodded. “All my life. Nothing comes close.”
Briggs leaned back, stared out the window as she drove eastbound on the 101 freeway.
“Where’s your buddy live?” she asked.
“Not that far. You might catch a ride from where I’m stopping.”
“If you get the horse, where will you keep it?”
“Her. She’s a mare. She, not it.”
He shook his head slightly. “Where?”
“I work on a ranch near Santa Barbara. I can board her there. Till I can afford my own place.”
“You want a ranch?”
“Yep. Some day.”
That’s an expensive dream.
He turned to look at her. “That’s an expensive dream.”
“You from the Bay area?” she asked.
“Nah. Raised in Indiana. Been out here since I got out of college in Iowa. Mostly back and forth between LA and San Francisco the last twelve years. That’s where the food action is.”
“You a chef or something?”
He sat up straighter. “I call myself a chef. Everyone sees me as a cook.”
“You got a signature dish?” She smiled.
“I did. She cheated on me.”
“Christ, that was a stupid answer.”
Once again he shrugged. “A Monterey Club sandwich.”
She glanced over at him. “Make me want to taste it,” she said.
“Three whole wheat tortillas, layered with fried ham, marinated chicken, bacon, Colby Jack cheese, mild peppers, a spicy aioli.”
“What, no lettuce and tomato?”
“Thin slice of tomato, maybe. No lettuce. Makes for a sloppy sandwich.”
“Thin cut fries, crispy and salty. A big mug of beer, or Coke. Either one ice cold.”
She nodded. “You got me. Call me when you get set up somewhere. You can cook it for me.”
“You want to see me again?”
She pulled off the freeway onto surface streets. “I want you to cook for me.”
You can find my books and stories at my author page on Amazon.