Here’s what happened. I wrote two words on the Bradbury-inspired prompt list, “staircase” (from a photo of an Escher woodcut) and anatopism. Instead of finishing the list, I read Ray Bradbury’s story, “Dark They Were and Golden Eyed,” which illustrates anatopism with colonists to Mars feeling out of place. (Spoiler alert: they do eventually fit in) That gave me an idea for an essay about a Mid-Westerner becoming acculturated to the South through food. It’s called “You are what you eat,” and it begins like this:
“It was the grits what done it. Hadta been. Or maybe them fried oyster po’boys. Listen to me! I spent all these years resisting southern acculturation and look what happened! I find myself lapsing into country talk nearly all the time now. I swear to goodness, sometimes I have to stand in front of the mirror, clench my jaw, and practice e-nun-ci-ating.”
I blame it all on church dinners: “It was the side dishes what got me. I started with the Pastor’s wife’s raw broccoli salad loaded with mayonnaise and grated cheese. Then of course all the ladies have their specialties, so it was try-this-hon here and just-a-bite babydoll there. They’ve got to be hundreds of ways of making chicken salad, and pretty much all of ‘em include grapes.”
So goes the first draft. Tomorrow I’ll write the list.