Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Bourdain Quatrain

Every Monday night, I have sex with my television. That's probably crude but it's the best way I can describe the visceral reaction I get when I watch Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel. Each week, the former chef and current author showcases a country or a city and finds those out-of-the-way places where truly good food lives. I could have just devourded a seven course meal and still be burping out the extra gases and I'd *still* want to eat whatever Bourdain's eating. The show (and the photography) is just that good.

During the intro of the show, you hear Bourdain's mission statement: "I travel. I write. I eat. And I'm hungry for more." I marvel at his ability to distill his life down to four sentences. Makes me wonder about the other parts of his life (wife? child?) that he leaves out.

And each week I start thinking about my own four lines. What would I write? I revel in being a husband and a father. What would those be? I husband. I sire(d). Not very poetic. The former sounds too much like taking care of farm animals and my wife definitely is not a farm animal.

I love listening to music and find a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction from music. However, "I listen" is not very exciting and mostly something that's passive even if I do play steering-wheel guitar doing seventy along the tollway, windows down, music blasting out in the Texas summer heat.

I do write but my output in recent days/weeks has been anemic. However, I'm on the cusp of some major output. It's how I see myself (day job = technical writer; future job = published author) so I'll go ahead and keep "I write". No, I'm not copying Bourdain.

I read. A lot. So, I guess I'd better put that in there. Two down. One line to go.

Back to the husband/father thing: I love being a dad and a husband. It's one of the things that defines me so it has to stay. The one thing that cements these two different halves of my emotional output is love. It's the love that makes my days so happy and blessed. When it comes to life, I'm an optimist largely because I have a big heart. Okay, so I guess what I'm saying, cheesy though it may be, is that "I love" is likely the third part of this little exercise.

I love. I read. I write.

What about the last line? We writers always try for the trick ending, the Twilight-Zone-esque gotcha that leaves readers smiling, frowning, or hurling the book across the room. You know what I mean, right? I hated the ending of Heminway's A Farewell to Arms but I still remember it. And, yes, I did throw it across the room. Anyway, Bourdain's last line is a gotcha ending. It's his riding into the sunset moment. He's not content to sit and be. He's still searching. However, he uses the word "hungry," a word with dual meaning for him, a chef, a writer, and a traveler.

What could my closing line be? I could be corny and say "And I'll write my own ending" but that rubs up against some major theological issues. In that spirit, however, is this sentiment: I'm eager to turn the page on life, to so what's next for me. I know what I want but I'll accept what comes. So, to be writerly as Bourdain what chefy (is that a word?), I'll settle for "And I'm eager to turn the next page." Like any good page turner, I want to know what happens next. But I don't want life to go by too fast. I want to savor each day.

Thus, as of today, I'll sum up my life with this four lines: I love. I read. I write. And I'm eager to turn the next page.

So, what might your quatrain be?

Links for today:
Jay Stringer riffs on writer's block for his first post over at Do Some Damage, our new group blog. In case you missed it, Steve Weddle wrote about ebooks yesterday.

It's Two Sentence Tuesday at Women of Mystery. I'm not playing today but there's always something interesting happenings over there.

6 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

That's a pretty good four. I don't know if I could beat it.

Scott Parker said...

Thanks, Charles. I wanted to add the music part but I wanted to keep the verbs active. Oops! There's that grammar guy in me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have a love/hate relationship with Bourdain. He's so arrogant it just drips from him. Yet, I found his book and a lot of the places he goes enticing.

Barbara Martin said...

I'm a bit lazy today and so I ditto yours with an emphasis on love that knows no limits and fits with each of your choices.

Scott Parker said...

Patti - Yes, AB is very arrogant but that's the fun of watching him (for me). In fact, there was one episode where he was meek and I found I wanted the arrogant guy back.

Barbara - I realized later that the "I love" sentence could encapsulate so much inside the one word. It's like there's a fill-in-the-blank next to the word 'love' and you can fill in whatever you need.

Robesque said...

I think. I read. I doubt. And I'm rarely satisfied with the status quo.