On sequestered writing days, I wear downgraded clothes, which are inappropriate for answering the front door, or even for looking at my reflection in my own mirrors. On these days, my husband will offer to bring me a sandwich from anywhere I choose.
He says a new place is opening soon called Farm & Flour, but we both know that I’ll never actually say the words “Farm & Flour.”
These are the most likely phrases I’ll use in place of Barn & Barley*:
Table & Leg
Spoon & Bag
Road & Chicken
Sack & Bowl
Spice & Field
Powder & Keg
Shoe & Purse
Lucy & Ethel
This is because on days when my stomach is empty but my head is full of words, I’ll most likely discharge any phrase resembling the “feeling” of the words I want to say. This improv is necessary due to the urgency of the moment coupled with the hunger crisis at hand.
It won’t be because I forgot the store name or where I live, it will simply be because I have to sustain motion. I’ll grab any word in the pantry to avoid a pause in my rhythm. In this house, pause is death. Pause kinks the hose. Once the writing trance has flooded my veins, it’s crucial to insert “any word” so that my engine continues to idle. Thinking of the right restaurant name will require me to suddenly take on a steep hill I didn’t intend. I cannot turn off the engine while refueling or searching for a word; if the surge is interrupted, the line will collapse and clot.
I’ve learned this the hard way at family dinner chats. If I stop to find the right noun, I’ve lost the audience and they’ll move on to the shitshow happening in their own minds.
So, on writing day lunch requests, my husband knows I won’t/don’t/can’t stop to describe the place or look up the address. I just point in the general direction of the shop, which is three miles beyond my blacked-out window and say, “over there.”
We have pre-established the sandwich launch code so if I ever use the above couplings, I will always mean “Farm & Flour.” My husband helpfully added “Cask & Cleaver,” just because he wanted to contribute to the list. I also think it was a dry run for the phrase he’ll try himself.
This is a cruise-control technique I use for other things too. My daughter has six Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and on chore day, you’ll hear me holler, “Did you feed the horses yet?” Again, it’s not that I forget their name, or that these creatures are too dreadful to look at. It’s because they really are big and brown, and horses are big and brown. My brain reaches for the closest and quickest match. My family doesn’t even chide me or correct me. If you repeat ‘horse’ often enough, it becomes fact.
Hoof & Horse. Hmmm…another good one for the sandwich list.
*again, Farm & Flour.