With Liberty & Justice For All
Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: February 2010
While on my way to the post office last week, I passed Liberty Tax, and saw a freckled, weedy-looking young kid dressed in the plastic Statue of Liberty costume, waving half-heartedly to the passing traffic. Slouching as much as humanly possible, he sneered at passing cars and faintly bobbed his head in time with the music blaring away in his earbuds. The fact that he was able to even muster a sneer was respectable, as he’d no doubt spent countless hours being subjected to cars honking, douchebags yelling obscenities, and the mass public trying to hard not to notice his fervent waving that it was almost painful. You really have to give someone with a job like that credit. Really for anyone who’s job forces them to dress in any sort of costume, or stand on the side of the road holding a sign, I salute you. The worst job I’ve ever had was as a cocktail waitress at a local martini bar where the owner was a chauvinistic rageaholic, and the customers were grabby, self-important assholes.
In any case, as I drove past that awkward teenager, who was so obviously loathing the entire experience, I couldn’t help but envy him. For those of you who just uttered a Scooby Doo double take complete with a “Whhaaaaaa?” hear me out. Writers who are famous for telling some of the most memorable tales, more often than not have a bevy of painful experiences to draw from. And at the moment I drove past that miserable kid, I found myself envious of the stories he’d have as a result of that ridiculous job. In reality, wishing for such things is ludicrous, as I, like anyone else, have had plenty of horrifyingly humiliating life experiences in my life, and most certainly have hundreds, possibly thousands, left to go. Fingers crossed.
And speaking of words, writers, and building character, this week I’m reading The Unwritten, a new series by Mike Carey (Lucifer, X-Men, Hellblazer, Crossing Midnight) and Peter Gross (The Books Of Magic, Lucifer). “The Unwritten” is the story of Tom Taylor, who is one of the most famous and instantly recognizable people of our time. His fame doesn’t come from anything he’s done himself, it comes from the fact that his father wrote him into a series of novels: he’s famous as a fictional character. At the start of the story his father has been missing for many years, and he’s making a fairly humiliating living going around the con circuit, signing his father’s books and posing with fans for photo ops. When a woman at one of the comic cons confronts Tom about his own mysterious past, (most notably the fact that all the existing information about his life seems to have been faked in some way) a rumor starts circulating that maybe Tom is Tommy, the fictional character made flesh. For any of you Fables or Y The Last Man fans, I would highly recommend this series.