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Kit Kat Story

02 Nov

It was a good day, I’d managed to find a coffee shop that didn’t in some way resemble a Google Boardroom. It was packed though, people were waiting in line. I thought there wouldn’t be much chance of sitting down for my coffee. I remember I picked up a Kit Kat along with my coffee. As I finished my purchase, a woman left a table where she’d been sitting next to a handsome black chap, well dressed, and reading the New York Times in what I considered to be a very old fashioned way, spread out between his arms and held up in front of his face. I peered over the top and asked if I might occupy the vacant seat? He closed his paper momentarily, smiled, then raised his paper wide again. It had been a hectic morning and I was feeling a little flustered, so it was good just to sit down and relax. I sat for a couple of minutes observing what American’s do when having coffee. Americans, it seems to me, no longer relax in coffee shops. I turned back to take a sip of my coffee only to find my table companion had eaten my Kit Kat, having opened it, broken off two fingers, and settled back into his paper. My shock was almost too much, I mean I’d heard so many stories about the effrontery of Americans, but this was a stretch. Being an Englishman I was unable to simply accept that this action, carried out by someone who appeared to be perfectly sane, handsome, quite obviously an intelligent chap, had had the audacity to go ahead and open my Kit Kat and then eat it!

Several things, I recall, ran simultaneously through my mind; either he was insane, he had a gun, or he was starving…none of which lingered too long, but long enough for this very tall, very athletic man, to completely finish up the rest of my Kit Kat. Not only did he finish, but returned my incredulous stare as if I was in some way to blame for his hunger! It was a standoff. I stared him down, he stared back. I couldn’t simply let him do this, take advantage of me not yet knowing the culture. I was starting to think what my first verbal remark to him might be: ‘I’m sorry you’re starving, can I buy you another?’ And was about to say just this when the young man stood up, revealing the six-feet-seven-inches of muscled torso, and took himself back to the now empty counter where he purchased a blueberry muffin! Having returned to the table he sat his purchase down, then left again in the direction of the rest room. ‘Thank you, Lord, for presenting me with this opportunity,’ I told myself, then raised up the muffin and took the hugest bite my mouth could accommodate. I picked up my coffee and left.

This would, I thought, teach the American gentleman that fooling around with an Englishman was not as simple a matter as picking up the stranger’s Kit Kat bar which he’d just purchased, and eating it. Feeling distinctly satisfied with the outcome, even though I looked like a chipmunk, my mouth full of muffin, reached my car where I put my hand in my pocket for my car keys, only to pull out my OWN Kit Kat!

The blueberry muffin, still pasty in my mouth simply refused to go down my throat! My color had flushed, my hands, I vividly recall, had started to tremble! I could have gone back, maybe explained what I believed had happened, but remembered he was a six-feet-seven-inch athlete, and I’m a five-foot-seven-inch, seventy-year-old gnome! So I did what thousands of years of being English had taught me, I sounded the retreat!

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22 Comments

Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

22 responses to “Kit Kat Story

  1. Donald Miller

    November 8, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Got a good laugh from your story.

    If you’d like some feedback on it, I can give you some, possibly, useful observations.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  2. kellyshaw2001

    November 8, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Please, Donald. Feedback would be most welcome. I’m presently spending an inordinate amount of time thumbing through Strunk and White, and devouring all the many writing aids presented here. A word or two to the wise would be received with an open mind, and a willingness to adopt principles that enhance my writing.

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    • Donald Miller

      November 8, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      There’s a problem with the tenses in your story.

      Don’t feel bad. I did the same thing myself about a week and a half ago. I realized it halfway through writing it. I had a decision to make: go with the standard past tense or use the present tense. I decided to go with present tense. For me the standard method of past tense seems better. Whatever way you decide to go about it, you need to be consistent. I was surprised at how many times I had to reread it to get all the sentences to match up.

      You begin–

      “It was a good day, I _had managed_ to find . . .”, “I thought there _would not_ be. . . ”

      Then you go into present tense–

      “I pick up a Kit Kat along with my coffee. As I finish my purchase, a woman leaves. . .”

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  3. kellyshaw2001

    November 8, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    So correct, and I appreciate this being pointed out. This failing is a particular weakness of mine, often unwittingly changing the tense of the story, which is uncomfortable for the reader. I will of course go back and edit accordingly. It’s a fact, I’m a writer who can’t see the trees for the wood! Thank you, Donald.

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    • Donald Miller

      November 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      You’re being too tough on yourself. Have fun. Learning it should be part of the fun. I mean that’s why I set up the group. It can be frustrating when going it alone But when you’re with others, you realize that they have the same learning curve you do.

      Would you mind if we turned this story into an experiment?

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  4. kellyshaw2001

    November 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Donald, please do as you wish with anything I present here. It will indeed be an experiment in fun. I have made changes to the Kit Kat story. I have the flawed original, as well as the updated version on here now. Having made what changes seemed appropriate a strange thing happened, I found myself smiling! It was indeed better. I will work with it more in time, and enjoy each update as being part of a process. I look forward to seeing where you go with this experiment.

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    • Donald Miller

      November 8, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Great. Some folks are kind of touchy about letting their story be tinkered with. But I had the idea of writing a story as a group when I came up with the madcap adventure of “Plan Nine from Texas”. Sadly, I was the only one interested in it.

      Even though the concept was mine, I didn’t mind what directions it took — as long as it was entertaining. It could have been loads of fun and I might resurrect it someday.

      Anyway, with your story, I thought about plot and story: two concepts I’m trying to get burned onto my mental hard drive. You have a nice story right now. The plot (the conflict) is about a man’s internal feeling of having been disrespected and what he’s going to do about it. I got thinking, Why not up the anti? Make it about a conflict over “doing the write thing? Thus, the story could have the additional material of a confrontation between the American and the Englishman.

      . . . more to come if you’d like.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • kellyshaw2001

        November 8, 2014 at 6:25 pm

        Indeed I do…and ready to receive…

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      • Donald Miller

        November 8, 2014 at 6:42 pm

        We could use some of our notes here and the story to show how we developed the initial idea into a story that has plot points (and ultimately a more complex plot).

        When the man is sitting in his car deciding what he should do, that is a plot point. He decides to leave. End of story. But what if he decides to go back in and make reparation for the muffin he violated?

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  5. kellyshaw2001

    November 8, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Some explanation of what it means to me to write well.

    I write words, sometimes wondering if anyone will read them. I’m neither academic, nor blessed with talent. When writing, everything seems kind of unreal. It appeals to the dreamer in me. Take the conversation I had with Virginia Woolf over breakfast. She was not at all who I expected, intensely curious, and not kind, chastising my poorly written work, yet I felt important at being the object of her attention. Then she was gone, and the dogs were barking for a walk along the shore. I am my own secret of pretensions and amusements. Virginia, for all her brilliance, failed to see mine. A year ago that same idle fantasy would have driven me into a murderous rage, but with understanding and patience I learned something myself. Virginia might be incredibly sensitive, ultra-sensitive perhaps, but she is not warm. I was filed away as ‘irrelevant’ before she drank her tea and left. You haven’t experienced the world, she said, pulling the door closed. “Wait!” I begged, pleading to know what she meant. She didn’t wait.

    Here’s the thing, Virginia, I wanted to say: Did you ever weep so hard that the snot ran from your nose and mixed with tears before it seeped passed your lips? Did your heart ever break in such a way that every day after it survives within a spindly thicket? Did you ever want to ride a wild wind to somewhere just to be alone with the emptiness of a life that would never recover its beauty? Did you ever have a child come to you and make you understand that there is no pain greater than a child’s without a mother?

    I would have asked her these questions, but she didn’t stay. When my wife entered, holding a mug of tea, she asked: “Darling, you’re mumbling. I can hear you in the kitchen.”

    “Bah, I was yelling at Virginia Woolf. I swear, I don’t think she knows what it is to be tormented!”

    My mind is in torment, the creativity, and the knowledge that we live in the universe inside a beautiful aquarium that itself falls steadily through space. Our heartbreak is so small in the eons of time. What we, each of us, gives to history cannot be judged by its value, but by the love we give back. I am now working toward one last challenge, to play, to amuse, to adore, to be lost in the writer’s reality. This is a frightening journey, you need to hold me tightly and safely in your heart if I’m to come back from where I travel.

    This pirate will polish old bones one more time, and before he gives them over to be held high in the rigging as a warning to those who will treasure only gold, he will hurl himself at the world in a defiant storm of laughter and cry one last time……Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

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    • Donald Miller

      November 8, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      I like it!

      You’re as talented as I am. But don’t let that discourage you. 🙂

      I like the way you can go with an idea like that, without fear of ridicule. That’s the way I am. People are always going to bitch about what you write and how you write it.

      There, I’m referring to strangers and non-allies. I am not afraid to write off-the-wall stuff, like “Plan Nine.” As an allie, I will mention that I have never, [W]eep[t] so hard that the snot ran from [my] nose and mixed with tears before it seeped passed [my] lips?” I didn’t like that the first time I read it, and I think you’d be well advised to reconsider using it. The imagery, in my opinion, conflicts with the tender and heart-rending emotions that accompany loss. I friend of mine died suddenly at 31 a couple of years ago, and I cried uncontrollably and the pain was unbearable enough that if I had a gun, the thought of using it on myself would have crossed my mind. (But I associate snot with having a cold. Not with grieving.)

      Hope I didn’t state that too directly. It’s only one line in an otherwise excellent piece of writing.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  6. kellyshaw2001

    November 8, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Not at all…and your point is heeded. It just happened to be something I experienced, but that said, does it really convey what is intended? I’m reconsidering, and thank you for insight.

    I’ll look up ‘plan nine’ as I would like to see what that is about.

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    • Donald Miller

      November 8, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      Plan Nine is derived from the name of the worst movie of all time, “Plan Nine from Outer Space,” by Ed Wood. Johnny Depp made an excellent movie called “Ed Wood.” In my story, I play (write myself into the story) as an Ed Wood type of director. I wrote it bit by bit every day as events unfolded for my plans with the group. I haven’t made any second drafts or anything– it’s there warts and all.

      The story evolved as my idea did. It is believable within the whacky world I made. I work for a movie studio. The idea was to have “the group” write themselves into the story as humorous characters, just as I was doing. Anyway, the movie we’re working on has gone over budget by 100 million dollars and there’s really not anything to show for it, in the opinion of Waltz, the studio director.

      Stress takes it’s toll on the new director and he has a heart attack. The next victim is Walts, who goes into a catatonic Schizophrenic coma for a month. During that time, I spend 10 million dollars refurbishing the abandoned lobotomy wing of the asylum, or as Waltz puts it, “Poor people go to insane asylums, rich people go to rehab centers.”

      The project is a spectacular success. The studio owns its own “rehab center” and there is a filmmaking wing to it. Naturally, the doctors and patients want to be involved with the movie, etc. You get the idea. Heh-heh.

      Amazingly, no interest at. all.

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  7. kellyshaw2001

    November 8, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I believed had happened, but remembered he was a six-feet-seven-inch athlete, and I’m a five-foot-seven-inch, seventy-year-old gnome! So I did what thousands of years of being English had taught me, I sounded the retreat!

    Continuation…..

    ‘But look,’ I told myself, ‘why do what thousands of years of English heritage have taught me? Why not own up, take it on the chin, walk back in there and explain why I had done what I had done?’ Talking to oneself, I’d found, was a lot easier than acting out what I’d thought. I swallowed the muffin, sipping down some coffee to wash away the regret, and gave myself a moment to buck up the courage.

    I remember thinking, I’m new to America, coming to San Francisco to retire, live the good life, soak up the sun, eat fresh food that isn’t death-on-a-plate, the kind served up in London. And honestly, it might have been a different story but for the episode the night before. I’d taken my wife out to dinner in North Beach, a popular dining location in San Francisco, we had purchased tickets to see a comedy, ‘Beach Blanket Babylon’ and decided to have something to eat. We were still so excited with the city, having looked around all day, seeing cops with guns! I mean, honestly, I couldn’t take my eyes off these guys, they looked so threatening, so movie!

    In London I wouldn’t have a problem walking up to a ‘bobby’, offering a good morning, and asking the way to some destination. Not here. Not in San Francisco, not with those threatening caps they wear low over their brow, one hand resting on a pistol! I mean what the hell is that? Walking the streets wearing bullet proof vests! But I digress, so we were eating pizza, and I had ordered a glass of wine for myself and my wife. Everything was perfect, a balmy evening, two old people in love, an outside table for two, and a homeless guy! Yep, just walked up to me, picked up my glass of wine and downed it like it was water. Even said thank you! Put the glass back on the table and walked off.

    Now, hear me, in London we have homeless people on the streets, but not with this type of audacity. Such a stunt would have him picked up and thrown in the glass-house for the night! Here, I realized, not so much. The waiter came almost immediately, saw what had happened and had a replacement glass of wine in his hand. He took the empty glass, apologized, and set me a new glass of wine on the table, suggesting I keep it on the other side, away from the curb! It was all so matter of fact.

    The rest of the meal I kept one hand on the plate on which my pizza sat. That’s when it dawned on me why Americans don’t use knives, they need a free hand to keep hold of their plates! So you see, I’d immediately jumped to a conclusion in the coffee shop, seeing the Kit Kat on the table, that it was mine!

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    I wonder, Donald, do have any idea what the American might have thought, returning to find his muffin broken into!

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

     
  8. Donald Miller

    November 8, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    As long as we’re doing this for fun and to learn a thing or two while we’re at it, I’ll use some of my analytic skills on the story. You should see the number of rewrites there are on some of my stories — and I’m talking about after I’ve posted it. Might be as many as twenty.

    Looking at the story as “literature,” if I were playing the role of editor, I’d question the use of the black man. If the story is about English versus American culture, I would leave out the element of race.

    “[H]e’d been sitting next to a handsome black chap, well dressed, and reading the New York Times in what I considered to be a very old fashioned way, spread out between his arms and held up in front of his face.”

    I was on a PhD’s site, and he had written something like that. In an illustrative story for his students, he had talked about how beautiful it was outside someone’s home–but he did it before he walked out the door. I sent him an email and asked him why he’d know what it was like outside before he even walked out the door. The professor wasn’t offended. He emailed me back and said I had a point.

    When I write something like “handsome black chap” and “[He] held [the newspaper] up in front of his face.” And I do write things like that with surprising regularity, I ask myself How would he know that the guy is handsome if he hasn’t seen his face? (Also don’t know why it matters that he’s handsome. Would it make any difference if he were ugly?

    Another contradiction is in the descriptive word not matching up with the narrator’s tone. The narrator has a degree of contempt for Americans, so why would he describe the stranger as a gentleman?

    If you feel like I’m stepping on your toes, we can stop the exercise– but I really do that sort of thing with my own writing.

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  9. Donald Miller

    November 9, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I wonder, Donald, do have any idea what the American might have thought, returning to find his muffin broken into!

    Interesting how many conflicts that can exist in a simple story.

    I began the Creative Writing Study Group with an exercise I found in a good textbook. The exercise is here–

    https://creativewritingstudygroup.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/

    If you look over the assignment and our answers, you’ll find that there are many more conflicts in that story than one would first imagine. I know I was surprised when I did the assignment.

    Even though twelve people signed up for the group, only two of them did the assignment. On the next two, no one did. I found that a bit annoying. That’s when I decided to do “Plan Nine from Texas,” another method of trying to gain interest that went nowhere.

    (In my own defense of why I was short with Neganashi, I had done everything I could think of to get the group going, and then I came up with the idea of the notebooks, and she copped an attitude about she didn’t want one. Both I and Becki mentioned that it was intended to show that she was part of the group. THEN, after a couple of hundred hours of work on the site and all of my jumping through hoops to get some interest going, she wrote what I consider to be a snooty question. IT all came to a boil when I wrote my reply to her. Where was the respect? Where was a bit of gratitude? All I saw was a kid copping an attitude. Sort of like offering to give a hitchhiker a ride and then them copping an attitude about what conditions I’ll meet for her to accept my offer to drive her to where she wants to go. The first time I ever witnessed a hitchhiker say, “It’s my way or the highway. (Might write a short story about an incident like that.)).

    Anyway, here’s the next offering, in addition to “Plan Nine”.

    https://creativewritingstudygroup.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/homework-challenge-for-929-105/

    We did have one where I came up with the idea of writing a one hundred word story. Got some responses to that, but there seemed to be confusion over the assignment. SIGH.

    I’m glad you and Becki are signed up.

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  10. kellyshaw2001

    November 9, 2014 at 1:15 am

    These toes are for trampling on…its the nature of dance!

    I’m going to look again at Kit Kat story, and heed the advice. You cannot insult me over your critiques, I’m bullet proof!

    Liked by 1 person

     
  11. Donald Miller

    November 9, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Your original is, of course, just fine. You did exactly what you set out to do, told a humorous story.

    Been doing a bit of thinking about this example story. If we were going to expand it, we’d need to give the main character a backstory. And I think you hit on an interesting possibility when you mentioned the English police. The guy could be a former London police officer, of the weaponless type you mentioned. Or maybe he was a magistrate. Now we have a character and greater conflicts.

    He convicted the American without sufficient evidence.

    He took the law into his own hands.

    He decides to make reparations for his muffin crime.

    We don’t need to necessarily write the expanded story. But we can discuss the elements of fiction that go into a good piece of writing.

    (Don’t think that I’m putting on airs and playing the literature professor, because I’m not. I am a student. However, by going through an exercise like this I can see myself developing the wherewithal to write better stories. That’s the idea behind going through the textbooks, reading the stories, and all of that. I’m getting a feel for how to put the pieces into place.)

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    • Donald Miller

      November 9, 2014 at 1:30 am

      I just posted that last comment when I saw your new one. haha.

      Like

       
  12. kellyshaw2001

    November 9, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Yes, so let me imagine that my character has arrived in San Francisco with pre-conceived notions about the American culture. One: It retains a strong racist element, both socially and politically. His only knowledge of racist events was that of the Rodney King riots in 1992 Two: It has an archaic gun culture. Three: It is full of loud, self opinionated Americans. Four: It is less dignified nation than most European countries. Five: It has a diverse religious activism.

    He was born on an island, where no black people were ever seen, and he had not met a black person till he was in his twenty-fifth year. His wife has cancer and the reason for his retirement to another country is to offer her a better quality of life based on his retired financial status. His retired pound sterling is worth 25% more in the US. Before he retired he worked as a travel agent!

    Donald, please feel free to add or remove?

    Based on this background I can see a myriad of conflicts developing. I’ve NEVER thought to do this before. This exercise alone is so revealing. Thank you.

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    • Donald Miller

      November 9, 2014 at 3:37 am

      You’re very welcome. Kelly. I enjoyed thinking over the ideas and possibilities also. Eventually, I hope to write some novellas, perhaps even a novel or two, so studying and having the opportunity to talk about the elements of fiction helps me absorb it better. Likewise, I thank you.

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  13. kellyshaw2001

    November 9, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Donald, the time you’ve given over to me today has been truly appreciated. So much to think about, I think the excitement will keep me awake! I know you have the fortitude to make time for yourself, even so, I’m very thankful for the help and assistance you’ve given in widening my viewpoint.

    Now I will make time to enjoy my loved one.

    Blessings

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