I should start this particular post with a short explanation of the title. It is a line from the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” something one old friend calls another. From the moment my husband and I first saw this movie together, loving newlyweds, sitting on an old smelly couch in an old smelly apartment, I knew this would be my pet nickname for him for as long as we both should live. So. This title should be read as something one calls someone, and not something you may have thought, in horror, we would do today. We are not going to pontificate old…ahem.
Let me share with you a mental image of me as I attempted to write this week: I have poured my cup of coffee. I have sat in front of my computer. I have stared at the glowing white screen until it dimmed, and then went to sleep. Maybe this is one reason I so often like to write longhand. Fear of the blank page is bad enough, but one that glows? And then gives up on you? Lord-a-mercy.
Never a good sign, putting inanimate objects to sleep. I am supposed to be brilliant. Every. Waking. Moment. And sometimes while sleeping. If you had any idea what goes on my noggin while I am asleep, you would perhaps agree that sleeping Alli is way more brilliant than waking Alli. I mean, I can actually fly in my dreams if necessary, but when I am awake, I am having a good day if I can walk through a door without running into the frame.
Every idea I came up with had some kind of lesson wrapped up in it. And I didn’t really feel like teaching. Lessons aren’t bad, and using everyday illustrations to drive a lesson home is a useful and effective tool. But it is tiresome turning everything into a lesson. As a writer, I think I am more prone to this. As a pastor, my husband is too. And as parents, don’t we always have an eye out for “teachable moments?” We are analogists. We are pontificating old poops.
Even now, I want to preach a little. About pontificating.
Life would be empty and a little boring without some symbolism thrown in to make things richer, to bring deeper understanding. I am a little strict when considering using it in my own storytelling, though. Lessons are one thing, but all of that symbolism I learned about in my college literature classes? It feels pretentious to add such symbols to my work. And to be honest, I didn’t always recognize it in those works without someone pointing it out. (The hammer is his WHAT?)
How does one end a soliloquy about pontificating without, well, pontificating? Maybe with a question, a request?
Can we agree that sometimes it really is okay for a hammer to be…(wait for it)
just a hammer?