Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Lady Or The Tiger


A dear friend of mine (name withheld given the next bit of information) admitted to me that he'd been reading Dr. Phil (I could not have been more appalled if he'd said that he'd started engaging in ritual animal sacrifice), and while he knew Dr. Phil was a total boob, he did have one good point on his "Ten Truths About Relationships" list. One of the truths was that ninety percent of relationship problems are unsolvable. Dr. Phil, Satan spawn of Oprah and Texas, has driven me nuts enough (I went to the same college he did and have, when drinking heavily, the same accent) that I have learned to do an imitation of him that makes my students laugh, ie, "How's that not using a comma in the right place working for ya?" You get the picture. It is my great fortune not to bear a physical resemblance to Dr. Phil so the joke can only go so far.

One of my first fiction teachers used to give us these great worksheets about fiction and "The Lady Or The Tiger" dilemma featured prominently as a plot device. The story can be summed up like this -- a princess in a faraway land takes a lover well below her station. Her father is a little upset so he puts to the old lady or the tiger routine. The lover has to pick a door and behind one is a beautiful woman that he will marry and the other is the tiger, who will tear him to bits. He looks into the crowd to the princess for a sign as to which door to pick, and her dilemma is obvious. If she tells him the right (meaning not getting eaten alive door), she will have to live her entire life seeing him live with another woman. I suppose what the evil Dr. Phil meant with his truth is not that relationship problems are unsolvable, but that the solutions won't be ones anyone wants. Writing and love are not so different. We all want the same things as writers that are totally incompatible -- to be an original voice and not to offend anyone we know, to write a tremendous deal and to keep doing everything we did before we started writing, to deal with things honestly, painfully, and not be affected by it in any adverse way. We look to teachers or God or the universe or our friends and lovers to give us signs about which door to pick. Hey, what's the worst that can happen? Being ripped to bits has its uses which is to say that if you can survive it, you can write about it. Alas, that's the writer's consolation prize for everything, but it's better than going home empty-handed.


Michelle's Spell of the Day

"To a writer, nothing is sacred." The Anniversary Party

The Lady or The Tiger

1 part godiva chocolate liquor
1 part Starbucks liquor

Serve as a layered shot and top with whipped cream.

Benedictions and Maledictions

There’s Room For Everyone

Under the mall’s fluorescent lights,
a man in a black trench coat struggles
with his oxygen while ordering the special,
the same thing I have in front of me,
bits of greasy chicken in bourbon sauce.
You look awful, my sister tells me. What
are you thinking? But I’m not, I just watch
the guy get his food and make his way
to sit down and eat. Almost every table is open.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll take door #3, Monty.

Anonymous said...

Today's quote: Spreadeagled in the empty air of existence--LF

Anonymous said...

Today's 2nd quote: Don't feed me no TV dinners, when you know I'm used to steak.--J. Baldry

Cindy said...

Michelle,
I love today's post-- I think we all know which door he has to pick. Tigers must be fed. There is no door #3, Mister AP. Unless you're the one hiding behind it.
xo;)
cindy

Anonymous said...

Here we go. Is that Advanced Placement?

Anonymous said...

Or are you alluding to John Updike's famous story A+P?

Anonymous said...

The gods to each ascribe a differing lot. Some enter at the portal and some do not.--FMF

Anonymous said...

I've gotta go to the grocery store. There's a good sale on.

Anonymous said...

All that was left was some sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

Tiger, what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry? Nothing in black and white. For sure.

Anonymous said...

A tigress with red undies perhaps.

Anonymous said...

No undies.

Anonymous said...

Red hot.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely no pawing on the first date.

Anonymous said...

"The Lady Or The Tiger." This has been an Aaron Spelling production.

Anonymous said...

Yes, boss.

Anonymous said...

Herve, before we go, call Scarlett,er, Michelle, and find out what she's doing Friday night. I think she likes fine Corinthian leather, by the looks of her boots.

Sheila said...

Lovely post today Michelle. And yes Dr. Phil is a buttcrack!

Cheri said...

Blahblah blah! Michelle, I love the poem! I think Cobain would have shot himself again if he anything about Dr. Phil.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,

Yet another lovely post. I'll take the
Princess. . . Perfect mimicry of Dr. Phil. Wonderful. Fireworks, anyone?

JR's Thumbprints said...

Looks like AP won't offend anyone, at least not directly, because no one knows who he is. Remaining anonymous is the same as going home empty handed. Quit your childish rants, Anonymous Pants. At least that's what I'll call you until you make claim to your words. So quit playing with yourself. --Jim

Anonymous said...

Even Homer is anonymous. Ponder that.

JR's Thumbprints said...

As expected--diversion tactics. I guess you got your label too, Anonymous Pants.

Anonymous said...

My dear, you are as lovely as ever. Not the other anonymous asshole.

Jason said...

Yeah I've kinda had it with anonymous.

R's Musings said...

Door #3 = you become a writer; tell the story of what choice was made, and why. Great post, M! Love the boots!

Anonymous said...

Today's quote: Christianity has had by far a greater influence on our conceptions of how men and women should conduct themselves than any competing philosophy, including most especially feminism.--James Piereson.

Anonymous said...

Today's 2nd quote: Eternity is now or not at all,/Waited for, a wisp:remembered, shadows/Eternity is solid as the sun:/As present;as familiar;as immense.--Mark Van Doren

R's Musings said...

That's why the world is in the shape it's in...if I have "God's favor" that makes me superior to you. I'm right; you're wrong; end of story...get real; religion is as full of evil as the good it does. And feminism is a necessary reaction to Christianity's patriarchal belief system. Hopefully some day we'll all get it and the need to attack will end.