Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Truth and Fiction

I'm taking my lunch break late, and at my desk, today. I've been snacking on junk food most of the day and have decided to skip eating lunch entirely. All right, perhaps not the most nutritionally sound of choices, but, face it, my regular lunch isn't exactly health food anyway.

I was thinking about the way I write the "Postman" entries. I made a conscious choice to present them as "stories" and not as "entries". One of the results is that I ramble a bit less, and that they are less accurate to actual memory than my regular entries.

I don't have a good memory for exact words on spoken dialogue, and bus conversations are particularly tricky, because the noise of the bus itself, and other passengers, will drown out snatches of dialogue. Certain things will stick out in my head, but other parts I will miss or forget. Trying to write it up afterwards, as a coherent conversation, is a bit like early paleontology. I've got some key oparts, and I can make a good stab at how they must've fit together, but really, I'm just guessing and most of my skeleton is plastic.

For example, in this entry, I remember these parts actually happened:

* Paper-reading Lady told Postman to pay an extra dollar and sit at the back of the bus. I did chime in on this, but I don't recall our exact words.
* Postman didn't say anything about that -- he did rustle Paper-reading Lady's paper, and said we had a point, but I'm not sure of exact words there, either.
* Postman offered her an apple, but I'm not sure where he got it from. I'm also not sure where this feel in the sequence of events. I know Paper-reading Lady said "No thank you" -- those exact words.
* Shortly thereafter, I remember she said "I trained to be a teacher, but I'm glad I'm not one." But I don't know for sure how this connected to the apple -- I was just guessing.
* Postman said, at some point "I'm smarter than you think." and Paper-reading Lady replied something very close to "Are you now? 'Cause I didn't think you were very smart." But I don't know exactly when for this, either.
* I meant to say "It's not a high bar to jump over" but I think I fumbled the line.
* Paper-reading Lady commented on his shirt being open, and said "You're out of uniform, Mr. Mailman" but what other exact words she had, I don't know.
* Postman said something about being glad she was his employer/inspection officer/? but the comparison wasn't clear to me.
* Somehow, the conversation did move to military stuff -- Paper-reading Lady said "I kicked butt" and mentioned her "steel-toed boots" specifically, but the surrounding words were something of guesswork. She may have specified a branch of service; I'm not sure.
* Postman said something about being in some branch of service -- probably the army brt I'm not positive -- and Paper-reading lady did say exactly "When was that -- forty years ago?" Postman said something imprecise with the thirty-year figure in it. I recall the "I've crossed fifty-five" words, but not what prompted him to say it.

And that's pretty much the jist of what I clearly remember. But I made a decision, in typing in the entry, that I didn't need to be strictly accurate, or truthful. I tried not to fudge too much, or do violence to the events ... but the writing would be a lot less interesting to read if it were sprinkled so liberally with "I didn't catch the next part" or "I don't remember what he said". It's more elegant to make something up that fits and seems appropriate.

But it's still a little odd. It makes me keenly aware of how much I miss in the average conversation. It's probably good exercise for me, trying to remember all the details, and reconstruct them.

Oh, the other interesting part: having written down this story in a particular way, I've become more convinced this is what actually happened. Even though I felt uncertain about it as I wrote it, I'm starting to think that what I wrote down is what happened, what I remembered. I have to work to recollect where I was inventing bits -- and I may've gotten those wrong. I can visualize Postman taking an apple from a brown paper bag now -- but I'm pretty sure I didn't register at the time what he took it from. It's like self-hypnosis: what I write as my recollection, becomes it. A little scary, that. But we all do it, one way or another.
Tags: on the bus, writing
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