I rarely break for lunch during the work day. My logic is fairly straightforward: every minute I’m not working over the noon hour is just another minute I’ll have to stay at the end of the day. And I’m at the point in my life now where I don’t want to spend extra minutes at work. (Not saying it doesn’t happen; just saying I don’t want it.)
But skipping lunch doesn’t mean I don’t eat. It just means that I’ll grab something quick. Sometimes it’s leftovers from home but more often it’s just something from my desk drawer stash. I keep all sorts of things in there, everything from Ramen noodles to saltines to dehydrated pan-seared potato dumplings drenched in a Campari-infused arrabbiata sauce with white truffles.
One time, some years ago, I brought in a can of fancy soup. It was a creamy potato or tomato bisque thing. I can’t remember exactly. But the title looked yummy, and it was made by Campbell’s, and it cost something like $1.79. But it wasn’t noodles, saltines, or dumplings. So it was fancy.
I kept waiting for the perfect day to fix it. “Friday sounds good!” I’d say. “It’s been a long week and I deserve fancy soup!” But I’d get busy and put it off. Monday rolled around. “No, I can’t eat fancy soup on a Monday!” Days turned to weeks, weeks into years, years into the heat death of the universe.
“The problem is, you’ve put this soup on a pedestal,” my coworker sagely observed one day. “The longer you wait to eat it, the more you’ve built it up in your head.”
“You’re right,” I replied. “I’ll eat it Friday! Friday will be special!”
Friday rolled around. I fixed the soup. I ate the soup. It was disappointing. “Why this wasn’t any better than the $1.19 soup!” I complained to the sagely coworker.
From that point on, “pedestal soup” became our idiomatic expression for anything you build your hopes up for and then are ultimately let down.
As mentioned a little while back, I’m running my current memoir-in-progress through my online writing community, Scribophile. The astute reader of my blog might remember I said this book would be available in April 2017. Well, clearly that didn’t happen. The current critique cycle will take this into July and I’d really like to take the time to get it right.
Which is a complete 180 from where I was last fall when I thought, “I don’t really care if it’s good or not, I just want to get it done and get on with my life.” However, almost on a whim, I decided to let the Scribophile community take a shot at it and I’m glad I did.
I really like having fellow writers who are also complete strangers look it over. No one sugarcoats anything. If something works, they’ll say it works. If not, they’ll pull a Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay on you. There’s nothing to be gained from a weak critique.
With the latest critiques, almost everyone brings up the same flaw or two, and I do want to address those. There are at least two people who say it’s just not working for them. But, I’ve been happy that there are also a few people who totally get it.
Because that’s the thing with humor. You either get it or you don’t. Throw any comedian’s name out there and reactions are split right down the middle. Love or hate. Rarely anything in between. So when someone “gets it” I’m extremely happy because that’s so much better than zero people getting it.
To that end, I thought I’d share a few comments from recent critiques from those who get it.
This is so unbelievably well done.
I have to tell you that I read your next chapter, and the one after that, and the one after that. I couldn’t stop.
The writing is so clear, and concise. Breezy to read.
Genuinely funny writing is rare. It takes a special talent…and you have it in spades. Bravo! Really, really enjoyed this piece.
Now you want to read it too, don’t you? Well, be careful. Because I’ve just given you your very own can of pedestal soup. Don’t set your expectations at the $1.79 level. Odds are this will actually turn out to be a $1.19 book.