As a writer, I notice little things. I observe everything, and I’m curious about minutiae. It’s the details that make the story, I think, and so it’s the details I pay attention to the most.
For example, I’ve noticed lately that whenever I ask for a glass of water at some places, I don’t get it. My DH and I frequent certain restaurants, and there’s one in particular where I have asked for water on several occasions. I get an affirmative response, but…no water. Ever. So I’m left wondering: Are they afraid the water will make me sick? Is there not enough water to go around? Are they being passive aggressive? Are they saving water for a zombie apocalypse I don't know about? What is it with not getting my water?
I recently asked for water at another restaurant and didn’t get any there either. Is there a shortage? I imagine the server just forgot, but there’s part of me that feels like maybe, just maybe, there is an intentional conspiracy to deprive me of simple liquid refreshment by certain food establishments. I get by because I just drink my DH's, but still...
I realize there are some folks who order water and lemons and then try to use sugar to make some kind of lemonade-ish concoction out of it and cheat the owners out of $1.99. That’s not me. I don’t like lemonade, but I do like a little lemon in my water. I’m not asking for it to save a buck. I’m asking for water just because that’s my preferred drink of choice. I really don’t drink soda or tea. I just like my water. Plain. Simple. Abundant. So where the hell is it?
I drink a lot of H2O because otherwise I get dried out. I don’t know why. Our bodies are mostly made of water, and experts recommend drinking a bunch of it a day (I actually usually go over that amount). Studies have shown that most people are walking around in some state of dehydration because they don’t drink enough water. So why is my simple request so often denied?
I can usually tell the servers who are good at their jobs, because they keep my water glass filled. More often than not, water glasses of most people sit full because they don’t drink any of it if it is served. I do, and I can tell the servers who know what they are doing because the minute my water glass nears empty, a pitcher appears from somewhere to refill it. I don’t expect this kind of service, so it’s nice when it comes. I don’t mind asking for a water refill, but if I ask and it never materializes, my inclination to tip a full 20% drops drastically.
See what I mean? Details. Who thinks about this stuff? Me. A writer. A writer who is also a reader and feels like the details—the purple stuffed pony under the bed, the smiley face tattoo, the soured milk in the fridge—make the story. It’s like the red carnations in To Kill a Mockingbird, the ones that represented Mayella Ewell’s hope for a better future that was probably never going to materialize. A minute little piece of the very complex human puzzle that makes the whole crazy, random thing make sense.
Have you ever read or seen a story that at the end you think about days later and go, “Holy crap, THAT’S what that meant”? Think about it. Think about a story or poem you’ve read that had some little detail, something seemingly insignificant, that gave a whole new meaning to the way the story was interpreted. What was it? Please do share!