A Series of Unfortunate Prompts

Kelly is trying to help me write so she’s been throwing prompts at me like crazy.  This is her favorite thus far: “You get a call from a long-lost cousin who has died and left their children to you to raise”.  I stared at her in horror at that one and she laughed uproariously and then said “Well you did want to write something comedic.  Though I guess there is a fine line between comedy and tragedy.”

Now she’s trying to liken her prompt to an Adam Sandler movie – Big Daddy – and I inform her that I avoid all Adam Sandler movies like the plague they are.  But she insists Big Daddy is thematic and related to her prompt.  She says he’s totally inept at raising the kid that’s dropped off on his doorstep but, unlike me, his character does like children.  She finds this whole scenario rather too funny.

“Maybe then you would discover, through writing the story, that you actually do want children,” she says slyly just now, half to herself but intended for me to hear.  “It would be an epiphany,” she adds, staring directly at me.  She laughs.

Here’s how I envision the sudden inclusion of crotchlings to my life would go:

Do you remember Jim Carrey’s Count Olaf from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events?  Like that.  Only with more scenery chewing and less chance of survival for the kids.

In The Sound of Music the character I most relate to is the Baroness Elsa Schraeder.  She’s beautiful, cultured, and impeccably styled.  She found a good-looking and insanely wealthy widower in Captain Von Trapp.  He’s got a mansion and lavish grounds and is completely yummy.  Downside: seven children.  But she can make lemonade out of lemons so she determines that the kids will look good on Christmas cards and the rest of the time she can just ship them off to boarding school in between nannies.  Perfection.  Everything should have gone her way.  She was the ultimate woman with the ultimate plan.  Until that insane little nanny (“A captain with seven children / what’s so fearsome about that?”) with mad curtain-transformation skills and a folksy guitar stole him out from under her nose.  Baroness Schraeder's is the truly tragic story here.

In Annie the character I most relate to is Miss Hannigan.  She wants very badly to be Elsa Schraeder, you see: fabulously outfitted and glamorously appointed as the partner of a wealthy man.  But Miss Hannigan’s reality is very different in that she has no money, no man, no class, and an orphanage teeming with unruly little girls.  She doesn’t like children, she’s not there because she oozes sympathy and love for children, she’s there because somehow her lot in life got her cast as the Mama Morton to a virtual pigpen of juvenile inmates.  She’s a drunk – who wouldn’t be in her shoes? – and she’s desperate for an out.  When she sings “some women are dripping with diamonds / some women are dripping with pearls / lucky me lucky me look at what I’m dripping with / little girls” I truly feel for her.  In her shoes I’d be her.

In Addams Family Values the character I most want to be is Morticia (because Morticia is the ultimate woman) but the character I sadly most relate to is Debbie Jellinsky because she only pretends to like children to get at Fester.  At her first opportunity she ships Wednesday and Pugsley off to summer camp and spends the rest of her time nannying baby Pubert by chaining him to the desk in the study where she pores over financial records.  Of course she doesn’t actually want Fester either.  She wants his money.  She wants the good life.  Don’t we all?  Actually I do also identify with Gomez when he tells Fester “I hope that someday you'll know the indescribable joy of having children, and of paying someone else to raise them.”

A Series of Unfortunate Prompts has led me to this, my confession.  I’m no mother.  And if any of you out there get the bright idea to name me as your children’s guardian in the event of your untimely death, know that I would turn right around and sell them to a circus or lab for profit.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


- Corinne Simpson