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  1. #1
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    Jealousy in Unexpected Places-Non-fiction piece

    Hi everyone If anyone would be willing to let me know what they think, I would highly appreciate it.

    Jealousy in Unexpected Places by N. Flikkema

    I’m not a jealous person. I am genuinely happy for those who are fortunate in life. If I see a lady who has a beautiful family that loves her, I am happy for her. Once a couple buys or builds the house of their dreams, I am glad for them. When a guy pulls up in a fully restored ’57 Chevy convertible, complete with vanity license plates reading “AHH YEAH,” I think it is fantastic. The time I met a gentleman who won a large lottery jackpot, I was thrilled for him. Even when I see a gorgeous exotic-looking young woman wearing Chanel and four and a half inch Jimmy Choos, I nod towards her with admiration. I’m just not an envious person by nature.

    Last Friday, I left work and headed to my friend’s cottage. As soon as I hit town, I spotted the faded Lucky’s sign. When I passed through the entryway of the prehistoric tavern, the locals whipped their heads around at the same time to stare me down, almost on cue. Sauntering over the dilapidated hardwood, I felt the foundation crumbling with every step. A “Proud Redneck Town” sign hung on the wall, and I wished I’d taken the time to change out of my pinstriped silk suit.

    After locating a decent spot near the pool tables, I sat my attaché case on the counter. A guy who looked like James Gandolfini winked at me. I debated flirting back, but merely flashed a smile.

    Then a young woman approached me and said, “Hi, I’m Jenna. Mind if I join you?”

    I nodded and introduced myself. She grinned, and I realized she was missing all four of her front teeth. Her appearance shocked me because I thought most anyone who had the misfortune to lose even one tooth would only leave the house to be fitted for veneers.

    She assertively took a seat next to me and said, “I haven’t seen you before. Are you from town?”

    Faking a smile, I said, “No, my friend has a cottage near here, and I spent some time around town last summer.” I leaned back in my chair. “I’m happy you don’t recognize me because I’ve lost forty one pounds since then.”

    “Nice going girl,” Jenna said, then offered a congratulatory fist tap. She took a huge swig of Corona. “I find it impossible to gain weight. I weigh one hundred two pounds and would do anything to gain at least five pounds. But no matter what I eat, I just can’t.” She sighed.

    The bartender walked over and placed a tall mug of beer and a shot of tequila in front of me.

    She motioned towards Gandolfini. I waved ‘thank you’ and downed the shot college-style. “That’s too bad Jenna.”

    She pounded a fist on the table. “I even asked my doctor if I could take a pill to help me gain weight. He told me the only thing I can do is drink protein shakes and lift weights.”

    I quickly made a mental note to never do either of those things again.

    Jenna shook her head. “My metabolism is just too high.”

    I sat there with that old country song playing in my head...“A metabolism too high….What’s that mean? It’s like too much money, no such thing.”

    Just then, a voice screeched from the PA system. “Karaoke will start in 15 minutes.”

    Jenna begged me to sing one of Carrie Underwood’s with her, but I politely declined. She didn’t look disappointed, and filled out a slew of four inch forms with a dull golf pencil. As the multi-colored strobe lights rolled over my cheeks, I held on to the hope my DVR was in the process of recording American Idol so I could watch it when I got home. “Big Matt” kicked off the festivities singing Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”. He took a big bow at the end, and we clapped.

    Next, Jenna debuted with her rendition of Shania’s “Any Man of Mine.” Boldly she showed off a red velvet-trimmed blouse, fitted jeans and four inch crimson stilettos. She emanated poise and confidence. She sang brilliantly. Jenna was fearless.

    As I observed her, I found myself genuinely envious. Not, however, for metabolic reasons. I found myself envious of her confidence. Even though she lacked front teeth, she sang with passion, poise and enthusiasm. Despite her appearance, Jenna felt confident enough to initiate a conversation with me. Though not a traditional beauty, she possessed the assurance to dazzle her audience with her performance.

    My friend arrived thirty minutes late and I could quickly tell she wasn’t in the mood to hear some drunk guy slaughter Sinatra. As she pulled me out of the tavern, I left smiling. I left smiling knowing there are people like Jenna. I left smiling recognizing I look below the facade, and do not robotically pass judgment. I left smiling realizing I always look for the finest in people.

    I left smiling, proud to be jealous of a young woman missing her front teeth.



  2. #2
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Rogue - I liked it.

  3. #3
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    Lea-Thanks so much!

  4. #4
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Left a bad taste with me. That's a pretty high opinion you have of yourself...pretty shallow, narcissistic take-home. Maybe you should go through this thing and count all the times you refer to yourself with "I", "me", "my", "myself", "mine" - betcha it's well over fifty in this short piece. Try to reduce that.

    Jealousy and envy are not synonymous. Jealousy is bad feelings when someone appears to horn in or appropriate something you possess, like a spouse. Envy is bad feelings when someone possesses something you wish you possessed.

    Typically, in a little vignette like this, you want to make it appeal to a large audience. You want a general philosophical approach, not a "look at me and what I learned about myself" approach. I think removing yourself from this writing as much as possible would improve it markedly.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Rogue, I took this as a work of fiction rather than something from your viewpoint. Was I right to read it that way?

  6. #6
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    Lea, Rogue clearly labelled it "Non-fiction" so I think that question is moot.

    Debbi

  7. #7
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    Thanks for your opinion John. I thought that was the way to do it since it was a 'slice of life' piece. I will think of ways to take myself out of it. I feel sort of bad it came across as arrogant. Surely didn't mean it that way.

    Lea-Debbie is right. It is a true account.

  8. #8
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Well, I don't think it would take much to turn this into a really nice piece.

    First, you're talking about envy, not jealousy.

    Second, let me give you ideas to mute yourself a bit in this piece - look at this paragraph:

    I’m not a jealous person. I am genuinely happy for those who are fortunate in life. If I see a lady who has a beautiful family that loves her, I am happy for her. Once a couple buys or builds the house of their dreams, I am glad for them. When a guy pulls up in a fully restored ’57 Chevy convertible, complete with vanity license plates reading “AHH YEAH,” I think it is fantastic. The time I met a gentleman who won a large lottery jackpot, I was thrilled for him. Even when I see a gorgeous exotic-looking young woman wearing Chanel and four and a half inch Jimmy Choos, I nod towards her with admiration. I’m just not an envious person by nature.

    That's eleven I's in just that little paragraph. Now read this paragraph:

    I’m not an envious person; the good fortune of others brings me genuine joy. A lady with a beautiful family that loves her, multiplies my love. A couple moving into their dream home, warms me with satisfaction. There was a special thrill when that guy pulled up in a fully restored ’57 Chevy convertible complete with vanity license plates reading “AHH YEAH”. That gentleman who won a large lottery jackpot probably saw more excitement from me than he felt himself. Even a gorgeous, exotic-looking young woman wearing Chanel and four and a half inch Jimmy Choos draws admiration, not contempt or spite. I’m just not an envious person by nature.

    Only six personal pronouns and varied, not I, I, I, I. In this way, you can describe yourself while implicitely communicating to the reader that the overall message is not about you.

    Third, change the message from you and your realization of what a great person you are to the inherent value of every person. There's something to envy in the humblest of us, and that realization ought to humble us all - there's a message worth sending.
    Last edited by John Oberon; 07-24-2012 at 05:26 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    Third, change the message from you and your realization of what a great person you are to the inherent value of every person. There's something to envy in the humblest of us, and that realization ought to humble us all - there's a message worth sending.
    I agree!



    Thanks so much John. That does sound way better. I appreciate your help!

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