This week’s prompts are at the bottom. Feel free to seize the prompts, twist them, form them, play with them as you will. All comers are welcome. The words below are just practice for me. I had a lot of fun writing them, and you know what I always say, “Practice makes perfect.”
It was the early 80s when I attended my first industry trade show in Las Vegas. My boss was there to show me what corporate bigwigs would expect of an engineering manager at a major tradeshow. He was a second-generation American. His parents were naturalised citizens, immigrants from China.
Lai Yongliang was fluent in Mandarin and English. He was a brilliant engineer. He never seemed to relax and have fun. He was all business, all the time. He had a hell of a work ethic. He wore his hair conservatively and dressed as he felt suited his station. He was always polite, well-spoken, and articulate.
Lai and I had driven to Vegas together, in his Lexus. He drove a Lexus because he thought it was a sensible vehicle. Enough power, reasonable mileage, reliable, not too ostentatious. He kept it spotless. No eating or drinking, ever allowed inside the car. The exterior was always spotlessly clean and waxed. In the boot of the Lexus, we carried samples, spare parts, extra datasheets, schematics, and technical manuals. We had tools: scopes, logic analysers, DVMs. We were well prepared. Anything that might conceivably go wrong, we could fix in no time, on the spot.
That first evening in Vegas – the marketing department hosted a dinner for all of us at The Moonlight Chinese Palace, a place that Linda, our VP of Sales, recommended and lay just off the Strip. I thought the food there was great; Lai said it was so-so, but not something Chinese people would eat. We tasted – General Tso chicken, kung pao chicken, crab Rangoon, and egg foo young.
Who was I to argue? I adopted his air of casual indifference for the food. He was, after all, my boss.
At the end of the meal, and after Linda had picked up the bill, a plate of fortune cookies was set in the centre of the table. We all reached, as one, for a cookie, Lai caused all to pause when he cleared his throat, “In China,” he intoned slowly, “you preface every fortune from a cookie with the phrase, ‘Beneath the sheets.’ Try it out.”
He cracked open his cookie, pulled out the slip of paper and read, “Beneath the sheets, it’s up to you to create the peacefulness you long for.”
Linda smiled and followed, reading, “Beneath the sheets, a dream you have will come true.” Her cheeks reddened just a bit.
Everyone else fell in, one after another:
The guy from Product Management read, “Beneath the sheets, your high-minded principles spell success.”
Elizabeth, the cute girl, who’s job would be keeping potential customers in the booth if no salesmen were free sang, “Beneath the sheets, the man or woman you desire feels the same about you.” She lowered her eyes and smiled in Howard’s direction.
Howard, the CEO, put his readers on the end of his nose, “Beneath the sheets, a most attractive person has a message for you.” He smiled at Elizabeth.
Dale Piscatelli, corporate counsel, read, “Beneath the sheets, never give up. You’re not a failure if you don’t give up.”
Kishawn, who was seated next to me, on my right, levelled her eyes at mine and said boldly, “Beneath the sheets,” she read, “You have something good in your life, don’t let it go!” I felt a spark pass between us as she spoke.
Finally, the exercise got around to me. I was the last reader. I broke open my cookie, looked at Kishawn, and read what I saw printed on the small slip of paper contained within, “Beneath the sheets, your shoes will make you happy today.”
Everyone at the table burst into laughter. Beneath the table, Kishawn took my hand. She further surprised me by placing a kiss on my cheek and whispering, “Maybe that means MY shoes?”
This week’s prompts are:
- in a more organic way
- the devil makes three
- a girl with a grudge
You can start writing whenever you want, just write, get the words down – and have fun!