so tense

September 4, 2012
From Garrison Keillor's new Guy Noir novel The Straight Skinny:

As I got skinnier, I got great pleasure out of swanning through a crowded room and leaning against a pillar or abutment and striking an elegant pose and watching women fling themselves at me like moths on a lightbulb. On May Day, a child of twenty-one named Moxie hit on me in the Brew Ha Ha. She was plump, like a popover, and wore daisies in her hair and a smock that said Color Me Happy, and she said, "I'm sitting over there and I'm going, like, Who is that totally hot guy? And I'm, like, Do I dare walk over and talk to him? And I'm going, No way. And then I'm going, like, Why not. You look hot. Like, how old are you?"

"Darling child, if you and I were to talk and my shoulder brushed your shoulder, we'd be caught in a rushing torrent of ravenous passion and down the white-frothed spillway and over the roaring cataract of romance and into a whirling vortex of desire--kissing, caressing, clutching, grabbing, thrusting, crying out with hunger and delight-- and, beautiful as our intentions might be, it simply wouldn't work and here's why--I live in many different verb tenses, such as the imperfect indicative, the past imperfect, and the subjunctive, and you, sweetheart, only in the present indicative. I mean, you're going, like, Who is that guy? but I have gone or might have gone or will have gone, but you just pretty much keep going, and someday you may look back and wonder where I went. And I'll be, like, not there."

She gave me a triumphal smile. "I had been hoping you could come to my apartment and we might have come to know each other better," she said, a predicate that almost stole my heart away.

Love it. Despite the English major, I don't remember ever having had learned about the various tenses, so being able to identify them still carries magic for me. I am very fond of using the present tense in storytelling, however, because it makes things so much more immediate. (Similarly, I don't mind the use of 'like' as a framing device, in lieu of 'said', since it implies the quote that follows will be acted out, rather than merely recited.)
Nothing human disgusts me, Mr. Shannon, unless it's unkind, violent.
Hannah Jelkes in "Night of the Iguana"

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important.
Natalie Goldberg

I feel like a lot of common game design patterns today were originally invented as monetization tools for arcade games. We got used to them.