Slice of Life: Pink Tulle and Ping Pong

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Yesterday on her blog, Paula Bourque, aka LitCoachLady, recalled a conversation she’d had with Lynda Mullaly Hunt about “ideas being everywhere.” Paula went on to say, “I think Shakespeare had something there…

‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players:
they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays
many parts.’

What scenes can we script from the players we observe?”

This sparked a memory of waiting for a friend in Bryant Park one gorgeous afternoon last fall. I was doing exactly what Paula and Lynda were talking about. My journal reads:

“As I sit here in Bryant Park, the whole world is walking by.”

I was on the northwest side of the park, close to where two ping-pong tables are set up. Intense games were in progress and I enjoyed watching the players’ faces and body language as they scored points or lost games. The balls were neon orange and yellow, I guess so they’d be easier to find as they bounced off the table and into the crowd.

One ball kept getting away and finally settled in the groove between the paving stones. Just at that moment, a little girl, who was probably three or four, came along with her mother. The mother was hurrying somewhere, maybe trying to get her daughter to a birthday party. The girl appeared to be dressed for a party, looking like a ballerina in her a pink tulle skirt and black Mary Janes. She was captivated by the ball in her path. At first, her shiny black shoe gave the ball a gentle nudge. Emboldened by the fact that no one was trying to take the ball from her, she rested her foot on it. Suddenly, the ball shattered. The crack was swallowed up by the noise of midtown, but she was clearly startled and hurried to catch up to her mother.

This whole scene probably played out in a less than a minute. But I wondered about her intentions. Did she mean to crush the ball under her diminutive foot? Granted, I haven’t been around four year olds in a long time, but such an intentional act of destruction seemed completely at odds with her appearance. Or did she just press down harder than she meant to, wanting only to stop the ball and claim it as her own? I will never know. But remembering her and reading the details I captured in my journal have given me at least two ideas for a story I’ve been working on, and maybe one poem.

Thank you, Paula, for reminding me of this. You and Lynda are right: Ideas are everywhere.

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

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10 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Pink Tulle and Ping Pong

  1. You are definitely a writer! Keeping your writer’s notebook with you all the time and jotting the noticings from around you. I am not a writer, but I keep thinking I would like to be. I need to keep a notebook with me all the time and jot what I see!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great visuals with wonderful description. I could hear the sound of the ball shattering and the city noises. It’s great to take a notebook everywhere. I don’t always do it, and often regret when I do not have something to furiously scribble in. I have been known to write on a napkin, paper plate, back of my checkbook, anything! Great observations – a beginning for a story or poem, or ideas for characters and setting. Writing ideas are everywhere we look! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this moment and your wonderings about the young tutu-ed girl crushing a neon ping pong ball on a beautiful autumn day. One reason I love this challenge is because it nudges me to see the potential stories all around me. Thanks for also reminding me about the value of a writers’ notebook–I’ve dabbled, but not committed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the shout-out! This SOLC has been so inspiring, I am learning and reflecting so much as I read each post. I’m going to miss it, come April! You are truly living the life of a writer-tuning in to the stories around you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This moment is so lovely and a testament to the power of notebooks and noticing. To add on to what Paula said, this SOLC is one of the best ways to grow as a writer. Inspirational writing coupled with the opportunity to write. Thanks for adding to my writing life.

    Like

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