It’s a scene that is in all the books: the heroine is having a nice breakfast/lunch/dinner, when the phone rings. It’s bad news. And PRESTO—her appetite disappears. A variation is the family dinner, when an argument erupts, and no one eats anything. This is patently ridiculous. It never happens. Our family can yell and eat simultaneously with no problem.
I wonder if the writers who compose these scenes have ever really lived them, or if they just think that people ought to behave this way. It does seem noble to lose one’s appetite at the hint of anything emotionally unsavory. People eating while wondering if they will sue for divorce does seem a bit gauche.
In movies and television, this happens all the time. Scenes abound with people gathered around tables loaded with food. But there is a lot of plot-moving dialogue, and very little eating. One of the most prevalent surrounds breakfast. If TV and movie writers were correct, the world would make toast, coffee, and eggs every morning, and then abandon them untasted. I wonder what writers have against eating, anyway. Is it that boring? Personally, I would much rather read a long and mouth watering description of pot roast or waffles than a wordy and detailed depiction of clouds, mountains, or lilacs. I think food is very poetic.
I wish my life were structured just like the ones in novels and movies. I would rarely finish a meal. I would walk down busy streets in foreign cities, and spy a former lover across the street and recognize him instantly, even though forty years have passed since I saw him last. I would contemplate a horrible mistake, and nearly make it, but an impassioned speech by my best friend/mother/personal assistant would make me see the light. I would have an affair that would not ruin my life. I might quit my job on a whim, lose everything, and move to the country to find the love of my life while discovering sheep farming.
Another thing. People in television shows and movies enter their homes and either leave the door wide open, or leave it unlocked. In murder mysteries, this makes sense to me. But on soap operas or sit coms? All this does to me as the compulsive/obsessive viewer is to create anxiety. I can’t concentrate on the dialogue when “Close the door; close the door!” is running through my head. And in novels, people seem to have nocturnal visitors all the time. I don’t know about you, but I have never had a date/spouse/distraught best friend/lover show up at my door in the middle of the night. While reading these scenes, I lose sight of the plot and instead wonder why my life is so boring and my sleep is uninterrupted night after night.
I wish I could write a novel. Unfortunately, my attention span doesn’t seem to allow for that much writing bunched all together. But you can be sure that if I did, my heroine would never be more interested in answering the phone than eating a croissant with jam and butter. All doors would be firmly closed. If the house were to catch on fire, everyone around the kitchen table would grab their sandwiches and then run out the door. And afterwards, they would live happily ever after. With potato chips.