Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Baggott-Asher Bullet

My old badminton partner used to call one of my meanest serves "the Baggott Bullet." We played two summers in a row, afternoons, in the mown field across from our houses and we talked and talked. It was a phase of mine when I was bemoaning a certain collaborated (ahem, Almond), but a bunch of other things too. And it was during this phase that I admitted to a family tradition. The letter.

When truly pissed, my mother would write my father a letter. He was a lawyer. She was a pianist. It wasn't a fair verbal fight. And so she learned not to argue, but to write a letter -- where she couldn't be interrupted by counter-arguments, points of logic, facts and mere objections.

To this day, if my mother hands you a letter, you should be terrified.

Now, it might not mean she's pissed. It may mean she thinks she's hurt your feelings. It may mean you've hurt hers. It may mean something else entirely. Something, in fact, otherwordly. In any case, beware. Good or bad, these letters will make you cry.

I picked up this family tradition when Dave and I were first married. (The famous kitchen cabinet incident of '94 -- Dave knows of what I speak.) And, still, I will occasionally write someone in the family a letter. In fact, every so often the kids will wake up to find notes for each of them on the breakfast table. Things that I want them to aspire to in their day ... Things I admire about them ... I ruminate at night and come up with this stuff ...

In any case, my friend started to refer to this kind of letter as "the Baggott bullet," too.

And, fact is, I have a sash of such bullets when it comes to writing, and I have offered to take writer-friends of mine to task. "You want I call you up and give you what for?"

It's not encouragement we always need. Sometimes it's a little more direct.

Like a personal trainer who wants to get the best out of you ...

So ... Let's now call it the Baggott-Asher bullet.

I thought maybe I'd share a few speeches here -- some encouraging and some not -- but I'm not sure that I can. A letter needs an audience. Maybe I'll think about what I tell myself... Reasons to shut up, sit down and write.

We'll see.