Blog, I'm indulging in another rerun from my former blog. Back in October 2008 it got a great response, so I hope our new readers will enjoy. And for those of you who read this post in its former incarnation, take heart...just like the clip shows on TV, I'm throwing in new material at the end to make it worthwhile. The subject: the ridiculosity of my fantasies, illustrated by example.
When I was in grade school, a conversation with my best friend led to the discovery that not every child makes up stories for at least thirty minutes every night in bed. I was honestly convinced I was normal until that conversation. But other kids, it seemed, did not make a point of going to bed at least a half hour before they needed to go to sleep, just for the purpose of fantasizing. Sometimes these stories lasted 45 minutes, an hour, and/or ran night after night like continuing soap operas.
As a busy adult I don’t spend quite that much time fantasizing before I fall asleep. And often, this is the time I use for planning for the fiction I’m writing. But sometimes I still do as I did as a little kid and just make up stuff for fun. What kind of stuff? Are you sure you want to know?
Okay, at the risk of revealing what a total weirdo I am, here you go.
Think Fagin meets House M.D.
He has converted an old decrepit workhouse to a clothes making shop/dormitory for homeless kids like me. And instead of training us in pick pocketing like Fagin, Mister House operates the place as a legitimate business. The older kids sew simple clothes, the younger ones do mending jobs and make easy things like handkerchiefs. I happen to have learned from my deceased mom how to embroider, so they set me to work doing monograms.
Mister House is a stern, curmudgeonly taskmaster, but actually much more beneficent than his modern TV doctor equivalent. He uses the profits of the business not to get ahead, but to provide food and shelter to as many kids as he can. He may not show it, but we all know he loves us from his deeds. Naturally he’s just as humorously belligerent as the TV version. And, of course, I’m sweet on him in my girlish way.
If you can’t guess who plays the role of the Man in the Black Coat, you must be new here. :-) [2010 Diana says, pssst, it's author Neil Gaiman.]
Well, one day I’m out wistfully staring at a fairy tale book in a bookshop window, coveting it. Who should appear next to me but the Man in the Black Coat! Before I can escape, he engages me in a fascinating conversation about how I don’t need the book, I have fairy stories, complete with pictures, in my head. I’m enthralled. But then he tells me he knows I belong to Mister House, and understands why I can’t come hear him tell stories to kids in the street.
Which results, of course, in my sneaking out to hear him tell stories. And of course he’s incredible at it and I’m head over heels. Still, I don’t want to disobey Mister House and know there must be a good reason for his command. Oh the conflict! There’s nothing like a fantasy with two charismatic protagonists at odds!
So, after my surreptitious spying on the Man in the Black Coat telling stories, I end up lost, and he ends up finding me. You know where this is going...to his rooms, of course. Soon I’m fed, entertained with more tales, and bundled up in bed. Now the innocent Pip, so naïve and trusting, learns why the Man in the Black Coat has a bad rap with Mister House. But the thing is, I don’t mind doing what the Man suggests, because I think he’s super dreamy.
Meanwhile, back at House’s place, my having gone missing has become an issue. But just then, Doctor Wilson arrives, having seen me with the Man and suspecting where I ended up. Mister House expresses his vehemence not to go anywhere near “that vile Gaiman fellow” and recruits Wilson to rescue me.
Oh the suspense! Read on after the break...
In the morning Doctor Wilson arrives chez Man, and demands my release into his care. The Man in the Black Coat complies in a most genial manner. I’m confused as heck. But the doctor seems very kind. He takes me to his office to make sure I’m okay and talk to me about what’s happened. With amazing candor for the 19th Century, we discuss the issue; I still don’t understand what I may have done wrong and Doctor Wilson tries to enlighten me about the inappropriate nature of the Man’s advances.
He takes me home. I get back to embroidering, musing all the while on my situation. Evening comes and with it our master, who has made an especially big profit on our wares and brought us a feast. Ham, bread, potatoes, carrots, etc. and even a lovely big almond cake--it’s like Christmas. All us kids party it up, but all the while Mister House ignores me. I’m afraid he’s really mad. At long last it’s lights out, and we all curl up on our little pallets. It’s only then that Mister House tells me to come to his study. What will he say? I’m so worried!
And there it is! Can’t you see why I’m eager to go back to bed?
I told my husband about this fantasy and he just shook his head in disbelief. Needless to say, nothing like this goes on in his brain at night.
Now you might say, this is just how it is with writers, we just write stories in bed. But I still think it’s all kind of weird. For example, here we are in London, and Mister House could legitimately speak with a British accent like Hugh Laurie actually does...but he’s American. Why? I have no clue! Meanwhile, it’s not so strange that the Man in the Black Coat has a British accent, on any count (all the years in Minnesota haven’t put a dent in how Gaiman speaks). But it’s really wack that Doctor Wilson is British too, not American.
And I really got excited about that almond cake. Why an almond cake? Who knows?
So truly I am not so deliberate with nocturnal fantasies as I am with story-writing. I would never, in a story, have a character that resembled Neil Gaiman in any way be possessed of a nefarious character like this guy; it’s really sick and wrong. But in large part this whole thing is happening to me, you understand--I’m not totally in control.
Sorry this entry was so long. I caught you up on like a week of stuff here. But yeah, this is what it’s like being me. I’d shake my head too if I were you.
And now, Blog, it's 2010 Diana speaking. 20 months later I am still working on this fantasy. So I really need to catch up those crazy few people who wanted more of this story as to the highlights of what has happened in the interim.
Mister House was indeed distraught about my doings with the Man in the Black Coat. He expressly forbade me to continue any association with Gaiman, declaring if I did then he would have nothing more to do with me and I'd have to find my own way in the world. Being perversely under the Man's spell, I run away to his place. And by the way, your young girl Pip is now a young lady who is called by her baptismal name, Diana.
While there I am afflicted with a terrible fever. The Man is not all bad; he wants the best care for me so actually calls Doctor Wilson. The doctor tells him I need vigilant care, and thus I end up ensconced chez Wilson. During my recovery I (a) am amazed at his wealth and the opulence of his home and (b) innocently charm him away from his current fiancee. After some weeks, he proposes marriage and I accept.
While we are planning the wedding, the Man in the Black Coat happens upon me in the street and I once again fall under his influence. He tells me I will never be happy with anyone but him, that I am poisoned for other men. Eventually I cave to his seduction, and then despair of ever being a decent wife to the Doctor. And finally, he convinces me to run away from England with him across the Channel to France. I go willingly, but am miserable that my heart is in chains.
I keep my past a secret from Jack but he suspects it involves ill-fated love. We stay together chastely a few days, becoming closer with each passing hour, until one day there is a knock and the visitor is Doctor Wilson, who has been searching for me. He begs me to come back to him but I tell him I'm not worthy and turn him away in sorrow. Jack tries to convince me to give Wilson another chance. I cannot bring myself to explain to him about the Man in the Black Coat and my twisted addiction to him. Nevertheless, I do feel hope that I can make a new start on my own, with Jack's encouragement. Meanwhile, I'm in denial as to the obvious fact that I'm falling in love with Jack.
Then one morning after Jack has gone to work, I finally venture out on the street to look for a job. Instantly I am pounced upon by the Man who has been plotting to recapture me ever since my escape. He chides me for trying to make it on my own with no help but that of this "dirty pauper," and tells me it's no use trying to escape him. I feel in my heart he is probably right, and consent to leave with him again. But before I go I leave a brief note for Jack, finally recognizing I am as sad to leave him as I was to leave the Doctor....
Which catches you up on the story! What gothic melodrama! What self-indulgent silliness! And notice how I'm the only female character and every guy is in love with me?
Please tell me someone else out there does this. Or in lieu of that, suggest some other hot celebrity I can work into the plot. :-)