Last Friday I went to get my driver's license renewed. Believing I was in deep doo-doo because it had expired on my birthday in January, I didn't even try to renew online. My penance was to appear in person at the DMV and subject myself to government bureaucracy at its finest.
I imagine that all driver's license spaces look alike. Regardless of the colors used, they all look gray. Tired tile floors, tired plastic chairs all lined up facing the same direction, and tired looking people behind a barrier type desk calling out numbers—their biggest goal to make it through another boring day.
In spite of the large posters admonishing that all cell phones were to be turned off, a couple of people were talking on theirs. And like most cell phone users, talking loudly. (I, for one, try to tone my voice down to where I can barely hear myself. So far, whoever I'm talking to doesn't seem to have a problem.)
One young man in particular was on his cell obviously talking to a friend about a young woman. He wore the kind of droopy-drawer jeans that make me want to laugh out loud. They remind me of a country bumpkin cartoon character I must've been exposed to as a kid. What I wouldn't give to see the guys who sport those things have to tear off in a run.
If Droopy Drawers didn't have at least one four-letter word in every sentence, I think he would've confused himself. He further powered down the words by only enunciating the first two letters. (Have you ever noticed that people who use profanity actually seem to have their vocabulary curtailed?)
I'm painting a one-dimensional character here, which we should all avoid. If I were writing him, I'd work to add dimension, assuming he was important to my plot. But the fact was, this character cussed. He tossed F-bombs and others to the wind like confetti. Tired, gray confetti, but confetti.
What I did at the DVM was move away. But what if I were writing him?
I would want to write him true, but not as boring as he became in real life. Real life dialogue is dull. One F-bomb would probably be sufficient to make that particular layer of his personality clear.
As a reader, I get jolted out of the story as much by ludicrous dialogue as I do by overly-intrusive dialogue. Someone who has a live grenade land at their feet does not say, "Gosh." Nor do they say "Darn it" when headlights from a semi-truck fill their windshield on a dark night.
What about you?
CR: Under the Dome by Stephen King.
It's all better with friends.