owl in winter

owl in winter

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Great Opening Lines

“She was trying to tell the joke right, but it was his joke and she had to keep checking with him.”

This is a great opening line by an unknown student, provided by a recent speaker at SWG. It is not my line, but I wish it was.

This particular line reminds me of John Updike, the master of middle-aged, middle-class pornography, and also one of my favorite writers. My mind sees a couple, married or not, but having been together a long time, and they are at a bar or a party, someplace where alcohol is being served. They are among friends, other married or nots. He is remote, distant; he’s lost interest in the relationship. He may have kindled an interest in someone else. Maybe she knows it, maybe she only suspects. I see him sort of slumped on a stool, hands hanging in his lap. I see her standing. She is desperate and loud. She wants his attention, she wants him to like her again, but she’s trying too hard. She attempts to tell a joke, but she can’t pull it off without his help and he shrugs and turns away. The joke isn’t humorous any more. Their friends catch a vibe from the couple, and they begin to make excuses to go home early. Later, at their own home, she is in tears. She becomes clutching. He pulls away, tells her she drank too much and he falls asleep.
She had to keep checking with him on the telling of the joke. Wow. What does that tell you? A relationship in turmoil, an end, what? How do you feel about it?
What are other great opening lines that you know?

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