Monday, May 14, 2012

Fiction, Facts and Fences

Why read fiction? In a world that seems to be losing its sense of humor at an alarming rate, facts and statistics are the soup du jour, not novels. Daily information/disinformation sound bites greet us at every turn. A non-stop barrage of why you should worry and be afraid is shot down your throat, like birds shoving protein down baby beaks. “What if!”  “Did you hear?”  “It could happen to you!”
What does a fiction novel uniquely offer? Escapism may seem the obvious answer, but that comes in many forms besides books. Dabbling incognito in a logical, scientific community, I’ve felt the need to have an answer to this question.  This is my conclusion. Fiction offers something valuable. It is a simulation, a chance to delve deeply into another perspective, another life, another world. Besides an experience, what does reading fiction give you? Empathy. You live another point of view inside a novel.
Enough with justifying my existence. This writer's quest to kiss a baby lamb may or may not have been fulfilled this weekend. I spent it hanging out at a college, crashing in a bunk bed at night, eating cafeteria food, enjoying flash mobs, and walking across campus barefoot. Did you know you can get second degree burns doing that? Neither did I. You can, and yes, I did.

As soon as I arrived on campus, I was given the location of a nearby sheep farm. No questions asked. A photographer volunteered to come, and someone else offered to help herd the lambs. These people understand quests. Like the electric fence, let’s skip over the dodgy details and get to the point. I soon found myself face to face with a fairly good sized lamb. I scratched his ears, leaned down to kiss his wooly head and BAM, the dude head-butted my face so hard that my head snapped up. “I missed that,” my photographer said. Round two, I fed the lamb a piece of grass, and bent down to kiss him again. BAM, again he jerked his head up. At this point my nose was numb, I wasn’t certain if I’d kissed the guy or not. My lips definitely came into contact with his rude, butting head, and the photographer had again gotten only the before and after shot. I may be a slow learner, but I was not going for round three.
So what do you think? If you’re trying to kiss someone and they sorta punch you in the mouth with their head, does it count or not? I’m not asking for leniency, though I may or may not need to call someone to bail me out if I keep questing over fences. Not that I’m admitting to trespassing, I knew someone who knew someone who knew someone, who said it was okay to be there. That counts right? Do I have your empathy? Probably not, but this quest was fact not fiction. So be afraid! What if you try to kiss a lamb and he punches you in the face? It could happen.
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