Thursday, December 11, 2008

College Town Life

Have I mentioned that I LOVE living in a college town? It is the greatest place to live if you're in search of writerly inspiration, especially if you write about young people. Here is just a small sampling of the stuff I've seen/overheard since moving back to Auburn:

1) More couple fights than you can possibly imagine. Seriously. I had forgotten that people under the age of 21 will literally just start screaming at each other in the streets. The other day, I saw a girl and her boyfriend outside of a nice restaurant downtown having this little exchange:


GUY: *Pained look* "Please stop yelling."


Now, The Husband and I have been married for six years. We've been a couple for nine years. I can safely say there is no woman he could ever talk to that would make me have this sort of mental breakdown, much less on a public street. In fact, The Husband and I are so mellow that I could probably see him making out with some chick and I still wouldn't have this level of freak-out. But is the "I will stop yelling when you stop talking to her" line SO going in Rebel Belle? Um, hell to the yes.

2) This one might actually be my favorite. I was going in the post office when a young guy came out on his cell phone. His end of the conversation went like this, verbatim. Trust me, because as soon as I was inside the post office, I whipped out a notebook and wrote it all down.

GUY ON CELL PHONE: "Look, all I'm saying is that my parents were there, and it was my birthday, so maybe next time you could just, I don't know, be sober. F&%k."

Ha ha ha! The best part about this was this guy's tone, which was more weary than angry. Like, whoever was on the other end of that conversation is just a raging alocoholic and everyone knows it, and Cell Phone Guy isn't going to stop hanging out with (or dating?) this person, but I mean, it was his birthday. Come on now.

3) Not something I overheard but something I saw. At Kroger a few weeks ago (not the crazy one that ear rapes with Whitney Houston tunes), I saw two separate groups of girls hovering nervously in the pregnancy test aisle. Now, there were six girls in all, but they were very clearly two distinct groups of three, and they completely refused to acknowledge each other, even though they were literally right next to each other. It was also easy to spot the maybe-pregnant one in both groups, as she was the one in the middle, her two supportive friends closing ranks around her. I thought it was interesting for a few reasons. One, sisterhood only extends so far. When you are freaked out that you might be pregnant, you are not going to share a sympathetic smile or even a "ha ha, we're all looking at pregnancy tests, how weird!" laugh with any other maybe-pregnant girl. Bitch is on her own. Two, it's nice to see things never change. I have a feeling 99% of the girls on this planet have been standing in the Kroger or the Rite-Aid or the Wal-Mart with their friends, trying to pick the best pregnancy test, hopefully the one that will tell you you're not pregnant. I wanted to go up to them and say, "Shine on, you crazy and possibly knocked up diamonds!"

But they clearly had enough on their plates and didn't need to deal with my weirdness on top of that!

There are a lot of fun things about being a writer, but I have to say, one of my favorites is the way that everything, even something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store or the post office, has the potential to inspire. It's like being tuned into an awesome radio station that only you can hear.


serenity said...

That last bit is so true. Although I suppose hearing that radio station came first and made us want to be writers. I live in a college town too. I haven't very often been this close to its personality though. I just love how it comes alive in the fall, and I hate how it gets all sad and sparse in the summer.

Carrie Harris said...

You need to walk around with a tape recorder. It might be illegal, but it would definitely be funny. ;)

Jill Wheeler said...

Wow, the scene with the two groups of teen girls circling the pregnancy tests is interesting. Are you going to use that, or could I borrow? I've got a scene where one of my MCs is shopping for a pregnancy test at Wal-Mart. It might be cool to have her see another girl doing the same thing and then reacting.

As for the guy on the phone, that is hilarious. Was the girl who yelled at her boyfriend drunk?

Rachel Hawkins said...

Serenity: I know what you mean about the summer! It's like living in a whole other town! And then everything gets all crazy and fun again in the fall...

Carrie: I'm thinking about investing in one of those pen/recorder things. Then I could be all surreptitious with my recording!

Jill: You are free to have that scene! It's so good that someone should use it, and I don't have any books where pregnancy comes up. And no, it was like 10 AM when I saw that couple, and she appeared to be totally sober, if totally insane. ;)

Jill Wheeler said...

Yay, thanks!