Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lock

The one thing worse than writing feature stories is convincing editors to buy them. How do you shill ideas worth purchasing that haven't been done before?

"I hear big things about cow wrestling!" you enthuse. "Kids love udders."

It's so awkward describing to a stranger why your article should be chosen over the one Slim Jim McPenisFace submitted two days earlier because frankly, it's a no brainer: Your story sucks. Whereas others seem to find inspiration under their toe nails, I get as far as fart samplers. This is the lede for the current one I'm editing:

"I'm thinking of going to Bali with my friend this summer," says Maya as she takes a long drag from her hookah pipe. "Or maybe the Czech Republic since I'll be in London anyway."

We're sitting on her couch in her apartment which she shares with four other roommates. There's an old television set sitting on top of a vintage refrigerator in the corner of the room. An ornate light fixture hangs from the ceiling emitting a tastefully warm glow. Over on the other end, a Peruvian-inspired tarp protects a tank that houses her pet chameleon she, "like, just dropped 400 dollars" for. Maya says this last part as if it were an afterthought. Sure she paid more for the cold-blooded creature than her monthly rent, but it's "gorgeous" and the pet shop gives her crickets for free. She's dressed down in a velvet number and pairs it with boots she got on sale recently. "Hush Puppies," she gushes. "So comfortable. Only 200 bucks." Nearby, a woman crosses the street with a knock-off bag hanging prominently on her arm. Maya and I exchange knowing looks: Hate that. It's obvious she can't afford the real thing. Why bother faking it? Authenticity and "being real" is a big thing for her. Her shoes are scuffed just enough to look like they've had a rough life (trapped in a brownstone ghetto). Maya is an intelligent young woman so her possessions must naturally be an extension of herself. Anyone can have style, but who among us can buy inner-peace?

There are others like her: students in their early-20s striving to inhabit an anti-materialist lifestyle seemingly achievable only through inconspicuous consumption. These are the children of bobos ...

My second feature will be on Montreal's parkour scene. Only La Presse has covered it which is good for me. My professor told me if I really wanted to pursue stories, I should stop giving away ideas to other journalism students. But isn't that what friends do, help each other out? "Well," she snickered, "that's rather generous of you." Apparently that's not how it works in the real world.

Maybe I should write about the weird way white girls bend over and put their hands on their knees like constipated cheerleaders whenever Juvenile's "Back That Azz Up" comes on. They toot their caboose, throw their glossy hair back, and let loose like competing earth worms with coordination problems.

"Yeah, mmm, touch my boobs, girls. You know it looks good. Yeah, we's a sexy choo-choo train."

But you know not everyone's having fun. There's always that one chick whose job is to watch over jackets because her friends could only fit three weaves and a stillborn on a single coat check hanger. You know the one: Lower-half kind of misshapen, claps during rap, and has about 13 empty glasses on the table in front of her. Yet, deep down, she's a pioneer. Who else could have developed the Sit Down Bum Bounce, the Lip Pout Neck Snap, and the "We Are the World" Beer Torch to perfection? Godspeed, woman. Godspeed.

"I like glitter."

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