Good Narrative Principles



IMG_6364Harry is a big believer in either/or pronouncements; it’s his way of making sense of the world. For instance, either you’re in the Downton Abbey camp or Game of Thrones. Either you drink tea or coffee, use a pen or pencil, have kinky sex or cherish a routine. Like that.

On Sunday nights, starting right after New Year’s when Downton Abbey premiered, Harry insists on staying home. For two months, on those long, dreary Sunday nights, Amelia is a TV widow, braving the elements, the slippery sidewalks without Harry to prop her up. Come April, once Game of Thrones begins, it’s Harry’s turn to fill his Sunday night with aimless mischief. As the grip of winter eases and people tumble onto the streets, shedding coats, gloves and snotty handkerchiefs, Harry can be found inhaling stale peanuts in the bar downstairs.

Despite their clashing preferences for Sunday night television spanning six months of the year, Harry and Amelia believe that when it comes to important matters, the two are evenly matched. Harry likes to say either you’re a loyalist or a wanderer, which makes Amelia cringe as she majored in America history in college and can’t help but associate the word “loyalist” with someone who stood by the crown at the dawn of the republic. But she gets his point and so can lose herself in all ten episodes of Game of Thrones secure in the knowledge that Harry is faithful.

But the one thing that Harry fails to recognize is that life doesn’t seem to respect the tidy boundaries of either/or. Things fell apart during a business trip. Harry and a colleague, with a few hours to spare, in a new city, went for high tea. Prompted by pouring tea from an immaculate silver teapot, Harry was giddy with the possibilities of living inside an episode of Downton Abbey and found himself highly aroused. He touched his colleague’s hand and would have easily kissed her right there in the elegant hotel lobby but he spotted the teaser for the coming season of Game of Thrones playing on the TV behind the bar nearby. Shaken, Harry returns home to Amelia and confesses. Amelia, relieved in a way, gently suggests to Harry that what counts is not that he’s dead to passion or the possibility of sex with strangers, but rather, that he doesn’t act on his impulses. As a fan of Game of Thrones, Amelia believes that it’s action that counts.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.