A guardian squirrel?
Sure, why not?
My ideas for plays or scenes come from everywhere, and I suspect it’s the same for lots of writers. A random thought that pops into my head, something someone says, a childhood memory long forgotten that decides to make an appearance for some odd reason, and thousands of other sources.
But where would the idea of a guardian squirrel (who’s British, by the way) come from? It had its genesis in a chance encounter with a squirrel. I was outside in my front yard when a squirrel jumped from one of our trees, missed a branch, and landed near me. He was fine but didn’t run off. He stared at me, and I stared at him. He was daring me to laugh. I didn’t. I was admiring his coolness. And that’s when it hit me: Having a guardian squirrel would be awesome – but how could I build a scene around it?
I tossed ideas around, and then one day, I came across a picture of myself in middle school: the definition of awkward. I remembered how weird I was around the girls I liked. I tried to be cool but was so nervous that everything I said came out really dumb. If only I’d had a guardian. A guardian squirrel. Who was British.
And thus, Mumford E. Squirrel in “How to Ask a Girl Out” was born. It basically wrote itself, and as mentioned in last week’s post, it became my wife’s favorite thing I’ve written. And now it is part of a scene collection, Tied Up, available here at Big Dog Publishing.
The snippet below occurs at a park, after Kyle, our protagonist, has met Mumford, his guardian squirrel, and learned that he wants to help Kyle talk to Sally, a task at which Kyle has thus far proven inept. Kyle, however, is not too keen on this and wants to pass.
KYLE Hey, is there an opt-out for this guardian squirrel thing because I think I can do this on my own - - (Sally enters.)
MUMFORD: I guess we’ll find out because here she comes. (Kyle turns and sees Sally, looking uncomfortable.) I’ll be here when you need me.
SALLY: Hello, Kyle. (Kyle starts to panic and stares at her.)
KYLE: Um . . . um . . . um.
SALLY: Is something wrong?
KYLE: Uh . . . um . . . (Turns to Mumford.) Fine, tell me what to say.
MUMFORD Just hello, Kyle.
KYLE: (Turns to Sally. Loudly.) Just hello, Kyle. (Realizes what he said.) I mean Sally. Hello. Sally. (Sally laughs uncomfortably as Kyle looks at her nervously.)
SALLY: So . . . you wanted to talk to me.
MUMFORD: I did, in fact. (Silence. Mumford clears his throat.)
KYLE: (Still loud.) I did, in fact.
MUMFORD: You don’t have to talk so loud.
KYLE: You don’t have to talk so loud.
SALLY: (Hurt.) I’m sorry. I have a really loud voice. I’ll try to speak more . . . quietly. (Kyle looks at her. She whispers.) What did you want to talk to me about?
MUMFORD: My mum once told me . . .
KYLE: My . . . my mum once told me . . . (Sally looks at him oddly.)
MUMFORD: That if you really like someone you should tell them.
KYLE: That if you really like someone you should tell them.
SALLY: Are you saying you like me?
KYLE: (Starts to nod.) No. I mean . . . am I?
MUMFORD: Say yes.
SALLY: I know this sounds weird, but despite how odd you sometimes are around me and my in-depth knowledge of your bathroom habits, I kind of like you too. (Kyle smiles and then doesn’t know what to say.)
MUMFORD: Say . . . that’s great to hear.
KYLE: That’s great to hear.
SALLY: I’ve actually liked you for a while. (Kyle smile grows even bigger, but so does his nervousness.)
MUMFORD: You have her. Now say . . . I want you to be my one and only squirrel squeeze.
KYLE: I want you to be my one and only squirrel squeeze.
SALLY: Say what now?
KYLE: Um . . .
MUMFORD: I want to make a nest in your hair.
KYLE: I want to make a nest in your hair.
MUMFORD: Sorry, that’s what I want to do. Make a nest in her hair. It’s quite lovely.
KYLE: We need to hurry this up.
SALLY: (Hurt) I’m sorry if I’m taking you away from something more important. I thought you liked me.
MUMFORD: Quickly. Tell her that this winter you would like to hibernate with her after spending many afternoons collecting acorns and hopping on power lines. Tell her.
SALLY: You don’t like me?
MUMFORD: Just tell her.
KYLE: No, you’re being dumb.
SALLY: I’m being dumb. Me? I’m not the one who wants to make a nest in your hair!
KYLE: I wasn’t talking to you.
SALLY: You want to make a nest in someone else’s hair?
Does Kyle want to make a nest in someone else’s hair? If so, will Sally be able to look past that and this entire interaction to find true love with Kyle? Will Mumford somehow save the day?
Well, like last week with Tied Up, you’ll have to read the script to find out the rest.
My 10 minute melodramatic comedy, 'Tis Not Me She Loves (3F, 4M, 1E), available here at Heuer Publishing, deals with the feud between the Hatplains and the McCroys that has been in a slump for some time now. Both families agree that there's one way to reignite the feud that gives them purpose: a forbidden love between Romero McCroy and Julia Hatplain. The only catch is, Julia’s not in love with Romero and Romero’s not in love with Julia. Below we see Romero try to help his best friend Julia figure out how to talk to her true love, Merc.
SETTING Eastern Kentucky, near the big Sandy River.
AT RISE Romero and Julia are standing together but Julia is faced away. She turns suddenly.
JULIA: Romero, I just don’t know if I can talk to him today at the waterin’ hole. Or anywhere. He’s so dreamy. Like one of my pigs.
ROMERO: I wouldn’t tell ‘im that, Julia. He probably wouldn’t find that flatterin’. (Julia takes his hands.)
JULIA: Then can you help me? Help me talk to Merc. So he’ll know my feelings and stuff.
JULIA: Maybe yous could faller me and tell me what to say.
ROMERO: Nah, I’m not good on the spot. The only one that I know that could pull that off is ole Cyrano, and he said he wouldn’t do it no more after well . . . you know. (Julia nods and then turns away dramatically.)
JULIA: Well, I don’t know what to do. I ain’t good at talkin’ to humans. Besides you.
ROMERO: I know, maybe you could shock ‘im. Be bold or somethin’. The way your pigs are when they go after that mud. (Gets an idea.) Hey, maybe we could role play.
JULIA: Role play?
ROMERO: Yeah. You know, like when we was little kids. (Julia runs up to him and hugs him.)
JULIA: That’s a wonderful idea. I’ll be Merc and you be me.
ROMERO: I think it should be the other way around. I mean, when it really happens, you’re gonna be Julia, not Merc.
JULIA: Right. I see what you mean. Now, what do we do?
ROMERO: Well, I’ll walk off and you wait right here. And then I’ll come back, but I’ll be Merc and then we’ll start talkin’. Okay? (Julia nods and Romero walks off. Julia starts pacing a little. She then starts doing pig snorts. Romero peeks his head back out.) Wait, what are you doing?
JULIA: Pig snorts. That’s what I do when I’m waiting. (Romero stares at her.)
ROMERO: Maybe not this time.
JULIA: But pig snorts relax me.
ROMERO: Right but . . . no. Just stand there. Looking pretty.
JULIA: You think I look pretty?
ROMERO: Oh, of course and if we weren’t such best friends then--
JULIA: Thank ya for that. I think I can do this now. (Romero smiles and walks off. Julia waits, looking pretty. Romero, now as Merc, reenters.)
ROMERO: Hi, Julia. (Julia turns and smiles.)
JULIA: Hi, Merc.
ROMERO: So, you wanted to see me?
JULIA: I did. I have something very important to tell you. (At this point, Ty enters and seeing Romero and Julia talking, stops and hides. Julia stares at Romero but is unable to speak.)
ROMERO: You can do it. (Julia smiles.)
JULIA: I . . . I . . . (She grabs him and “kisses” him. Romero and Julia fall to the ground. Julia then pulls back.) I like you. I really like you.
JULIA: Was that good?
JULIA: You think--
JULIA: Good. So four o’clock at the waterin’ hole?
ROMERO: Yep. (Julia smiles, touches Romero on the nose and then leaves. Romero stands up.) Wow. (Romero slowly walks off. Ty enters.)
TY: It finally happened. The forbidden love. This is just what we needed to get the feud goin’ again. Once I tell Cap Hatplain that Julia is in love with that rascal McCroy, it’ll be on again. And maybe they’ll stop making me sleep in the outhouse. I got to go tell ‘em. (Ty leaves as the lights fade.)
Here it is. Steven's blog, where his thoughts about things are revealed. Good luck.