Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
One Special Christmas GiftI think everyone knows what it's like to look forward to getting that one special gift you asked for on Christmas. Everyone knows what it's like to to spot a package under the tree and think: I bet that's it! Everyone knows the delight of tearing off the wrapping paper to discover that, indeed, it is that special gift you asked for.
And, if you're like my parents, you know what it's like to watch your child play with that one special gift for two hours on Christmas day...before putting it in the back of a closet somewhere and forgetting about it forever. There were probably years when my parents were tempted to send my gifts directly to the Island of Misfit Toys, and save the brief stopover in Oxford, Maine.
So when I was in sixth grade, and I saw a ventriloquist dummy (also referred to as a ventriloquial figure, though I didn't know it at the time) in a Sears Gift Catalogue, and I said to my parents, "This is what I want," I'm sure they were skeptical. I'm sure they thought it would end up like the puzzles, the toys, the train set, the guitar...
But, ever the optimists, they bought what would become the first of many dummies I've owned over the years, along with a book and a tape on "how to be a ventriloquist".
Of course, I hadn't actually thought too far ahead, about actually becoming a ventriloquist; I just thought it would be a fun thing to play with. But I listened to the tape (over and over again) and read the book (front to back, back to front - I would have read it sideways and upside down if my sixth grade brain was capable of such elaborate feats).
Then I spent hours standing in front of the bathroom mirror, practicing all those exercises described for me in the book.
Not only did Simon not end up in the back of my closet, I used him until I wore him out, and then bought another just like him and used Simon Part Two until I wore him out as well. By that time I had gotten good enough that I decided it was time to move away from the $15.00 puppet from Sears and get something a bit more sophisticated.
Since then I've owned seven other ventriloquial figures, and they have traveled with me all over New England, not to mention taking trips to Quebec, New Brunswick, Argentina, and Africa.
Every summer I spend all of July and half of August traveling to various camps around the state performing and teaching children and teens. And the rest of the year I spend many of my weekends traveling to churches with my "boys".
And it all started with a $15.00 plastic puppet from the Sears Christmas catalogue.
Thanks, mom and dad.
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