Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tied Up in Research

Darlene Ryan (Guest Blogger)

I hate research. I don't mean the kind that involves curling up with a stack of books for the afternoon. I mean the kind of research that involves me doing something. That kind of research never quite works out for me. A couple of weeks ago I was trying to solve an ongoing problem with my WIP. I had my main character tied to a chair. Would she be able to throw herself sideways? Could she do it without hitting her head? There was no way I could figure out the problem on paper. That meant.... (gag, gag) research.

"Honey, could you tie me up later?” I asked my husband.

"What will you be wearing?" Mr. Romantic asked with a leer. "Will there be whipped cream involved?"


I went out to the shed to look for rope. There was none. There were more bicycles than we have people in the house, as well as four rakes—which is very strange because there are never any rakes when it’s time to gather up the leaves every fall. Then I remembered, when I'd moved a chair for my mom I'd had to tie the trunk up with a plastic skipping rope, because we had nothing else.

So where was all the rope? There had been a length of white nylon rope hanging up by the snow scoop. Then I remembered I’d kind of set that on fire. (For future reference, it's not a good idea to try to melt the end of a fraying piece of rope if it may have been at one time tied to the handle of a gas can.)

We’d had some yellow rope. Where was that? Oh right, that had ended up all unraveled when I cut a piece to tie to the sled because I wasn't going to try that melt the end of the rope with a match trick again. No sirree.

At one time we did actually have some “real” rope. Hemp. Cotton. Sisal. I didn't know what it had been made of. It was the kind of rope you use to practice tying knots when you’re learning about sailing, when what you’d really rather be doing is planning how you’re going to sail to the Bahamas, live on the boat and write a best-seller a year. Oh yeah. I'd used that rope to tie up a couple of boxes of books before the school yard sale last year--with perfect reef knots, by the way.

Okay, so I couldn't get tied up until I got some rope. It was off to the big-box hardware store. At the hardware store there was an entire aisle of rope and chain, all on big cardboard and metal rolls. A nice young man with a pierced lower lip was happy to cut me a length. What did I want? And how much?

What did I want? I wanted rope. Who knew there were so many kinds of rope? I looked up and down the aisle as though I were contemplating my options.

"What do you need the rope for?" Pierced-lip asked.

You see, this is why I hate research. I can’t tell Pierced-lip that I need rope because I'm planning on getting my husband to tie me up. Oh, no. First of all, I'm old enough to be Pierced-lip’s mother. Yes, I know I don’t want rope for some kind of kinky middle-aged sex thing. But he doesn’t know that. And second of all, I learned the perils of giving away too much information the time I was looking for a new toilet in the same store. When the sales guy asked me what kind of toilet I was looking for I blurted, "The one with the biggest hole." (It's not that funny. At the time I had a four-year-old who used half a roll of paper with every bathroom visit. Each flush was an adventure. And by the way plunging is great for firming up that pesky little underarm flap that keeps on waving even after you've stopped.)

So I said, "I want to tie up a rug."

"You shouldn't tie a rug with rope," he told me. "You could damage the pile, ma'am."

Great. I have to get the only keener in the entire store. However, using my quick writer-ly thinking, I said, "It's a really old rug."

"It could be an antique, ma'am," he said. "You definitely shouldn't tie that with a rope."

"No, no," I insisted. “It's only an old rug I need to get rid of. I just want to roll it up and tie it on my car."

"You have roof racks?” he asked.

Roof racks? I just wanted some rope. Why were we talking about roof racks? "No,” I said.

"You know you shouldn’t just tie things to the roof of your car," he said. "It's not really safe. And I think it's against the law anyway."

By that point all I wanted to do was tie one end of a piece of rope to that lip ring and the other to the bumper of my car and drive away very fast. I had a headache that felt like someone had just driven a spike through my left eye. “Never mind," I said, heading for the door.

"Roof racks are in aisle 14," he called after me.

When I got home, Mr. Romantic was in the kitchen practicing knots with the tie backs from the kitchen curtains. "Is the guy in your book a sailor?" he called after me as I headed down the basement stairs. "Because I think he should be." I just kept on going.

I hate research.

Darlene Ryan is the author of the novel Saving Grace and the hilarious Rules for Life.


Pauline B Jones said...

LOL! Great story, Darlene. I hate research, too. The things we do for our books! LOL!

our guests said...
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Deb Baker said...

How funny! Hope your husband recovered from his loss. I like research if it involves eating or drinking

Darlene Ryan said...

I'm with you Deb, I do like the kind of research that involves eating chcolate. Maybe I need to start a Chocoholic series.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

LOL, Darlene. Only one diff between us, I'm probably old enough to be Pierced-Lip's grandmother and might have worn my Outrageous Older Woman T-shirt to the store and hoped he DID think we were gonna get romantic with that rope. ;)

Nother story: I did the rope in garage hunt thing a few months ago: got bored with jogging and thought I'd try something I could do just fine as a ten-year-old. The good news is I found the rope...

Darlene Ryan said...

Fess up Liz. Can you still skip rope? Is there video you'll be sharing here on the blog?