Lorne Michaels was mad at me and I had no idea why.
I had two assignments to write for this upcoming episode of Saturday Night Live. Just two, and they were good ideas. So good! When I pitched them at the writing table, everyone laughed. We were already acting out possibilities for the bits right there at the table! It was a good and friendly vibe. So I figured I was safe for the week, sure to have my first draft in the head writer’s hands by Thursday.
Which begs the question, why was Lorne, the great producer of SNL, upset with little ol’ me?
The first skit was such a great idea that there was a strong possibility it might open the show! It was so easy to pitch, so easy to imagine. Basically, the premise was what if the founding fathers of our country were like the political pundits on Fox News.
You see, a funny idea?
Now it was the second idea that I really loved since it was a Game of Thrones parody. What if Cersei Lannister joined the local PTA? So you have all these typical Midwest women dealing with the problem of planning a bake-off and Cersei is drinking wine at the table and threatening all of their children.
Why, why, why was Lorne angry with me?
I first heard he was upset from one of the cast members. I brushed it off initially since his gossip was always unreliable. But when I heard it from another cast member (a much more reliable one) then I began to worry. God, I needed this job. This job was my life. (Being a writer on SNL doesn’t really give you a chance to have a life, so this was it.)
The e-mail from Lorne’s office came to my inbox on Wednesday morning and I slowly trudged down the hall. I sat in the waiting room (which looked strangely liked the waiting room at a hospital; all white, even the secretary looked like a nurse). I hung my head and wondered what, what, what!?!, did I do?
I hit the neighbor’s dog.
It wasn’t just a dog, but a puppy. A cute little black puppy named Sadie. (Aren’t all puppies named Sadie these days?)
When the neighbors decided to get the dog all of us were a little surprised, expecting the worst. These were the crazy neighbors, mind, the ones where the boys play on the garage roofs and torture the youngest one with BB guns when the parents are not home… Of course, it doesn’t matter if the parents are home or not. The kids exist somewhere between Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, but much less smart and creative than the both of them.
When I think of the neighbor kids my mind always races back to two memories. The first being when they moved in and the youngest (who was probably two at the time) was peeing on the porch. This was the wooden back porch, just standing there for all to see, going to town.
The second memory revolves around July 4th that first year. They decided to set off large fireworks outside our house, waking my family up. When I stormed out to ask them to please NOT set off their arsenal near the flammable tree in my front yard, I noticed who was setting them off. It was their oldest who was probably about 10. He was wearing a cast on his arm and I knew that with each match he was on the verge of setting himself aflame.
…Oh, and this summer I might have smelled weed coming from the shed by their garage.
Yeah, those boys have turned me into the grumpy old man next door waving the rake in the air and complaining about “those blasted kids!”
So now they have a dog, with no collar or leash. And I was dreading the inevitable conversation when their dog started pooping on my yard. But hitting the dog with my car? I wasn’t expecting this!
I was backing out at the time. It was a normal Sunday, going to the grocery store, and I was happily singing along to Dave Matthews Band (I even remember which song it was in the dream, “Recently.”) When there was a squish and the smallest yelp.
I stopped the car.
And there I stood over the body, which now looked more like a black bloody rag than a dog. My mind raced with possibilities.
Do I leave it on their porch? Do I just throw it in the trash and pretend it ran away and hadn’t seen it? (Obviously, it was out when it wasn’t supposed to be so that was realistic.) Do I knock on the neighbor’s house, sharing the bad news and creating enemies out of them in the process? (I feared what revenge those kids would play on us.) Or do I move it to the street and pretend someone else did it? But what about the blood?
I had only a minute to work out my plan before someone else spied the situation. What was I going to do??? Think, man, think!
I put a rock in a sock because I wanted to fling it at someone. I have no idea who it was that was about to get the hit, but they deserved it big time. Oh, boy, did they deserve it and I was certain that this rock with my sock would do the best work. Just enough to give a bump, but not enough to go to the hospital (or call the cops). I began to spin the sock with the rock over my head, and as I did the target kept moving farther and farther down the street. With each step the future victim took I had to spin faster and faster. Suddenly, to my shock, I began to rise up into the air like a helicopter. Straight up! Like a shot! I was going higher and higher and I couldn’t slow down my spinning in fear I would fall and not be able to start up the spinning again. I was panicking, I was freaking out. Soon I was hitting the ozone layer and then… Once I hit the black of space I knew I had only seconds left to live before the freezing would kill me and all I could think was that the dude really deserved the rock. But who was he?
So I was at a literary picnic (They have those right?) and Stephen King asked to borrow my shorts.
He had spilled some non-alcoholic beer on his shorts and he didn’t want to wear them when he went up to speak. “People will think I went wee-wee, Southard.” (He called me “Southard,” which is my last name but sounded really weird coming from him.)
“Why my shorts?” I only asked, since it felt rude to have pointed out then that we are obviously not the same size people.
“Because, Southard, people will care more if I go up on stage in my underwear than you,” he replied matter-of-factly.
It was hard to argue against that, no matter how cruel. We snuck behind a bush and as I began to take off my shorts I wanted to point out that I didn’t think The Stand was that good and that usually his endings are messes or weak. I didn’t do either of those though, I just handed him my shorts.
Strangely, my shorts fit him quite nicely. He said, “Thanks Southard,” and scampered off to speak on the stage.
I hid behind the bush, watching the festivities, wondering if I was going to get my shorts back. The only person that noticed me there was John Irving. He didn’t say anything, just gave me an odd look. And I had the distinct feeling that I was about to become a character in a future book.
If fiction is more your thing, I’ve had four novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen Daydream, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, My Problem With Doors and Megan.
You can find all of these books via my amazon.com author page here. Thanks for reading!
Need an editor? Dream of finishing that book but need some help? Learn about my editing services by visiting this page on my site. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and request to work with me by clicking the image below.