Making a Book, Step 0: Write it down before you forget.
I forget where it was or what the occasion was, but I remember what I was looking at when the name eventually came to me. I was early, the folks I was meeting for food were not, and I was seated near a table of friends who were having a perfectly docile conversation about nothing I can remember — perhaps work, perhaps their food, perhaps the possibility of the NHL lockout ruining whatever small chance the Blackhawks had of winning a second Stanley Cup this decade before their window of opportunity closed.
All I remember is what happened when someone decided to steer the conversation toward the looming 2012 election, the mood around which by then had grown unbearably toxic despite how nostalgic we might be for it when looking at what lies ahead in 2016.
On a dime, as if inside a cartoon, the conversation went from casual to insane, with one dispute bending into another before the point of these disagreements just ceased to matter. Fans of candidate A employed a strategy of mocking and sharply offending the fans of candidate B, who took great offense to the attack before employing a strategy of mocking and offending fans of candidate A, who took appropriate offense. Dinner amongst friends took the shape of a bad cable news roundtable, albeit one without cameras, a stage and, most regrettably, a remote control through which to change the channel or at least mute the panelists.
More remarkable than the sudden turn into darkness, though, was how quickly the battle raged and flamed out. Roughy six to eight minutes after it began, it ended, with one friend segueing out of politics and taking his surprisingly agreeable fellow panelists with him. The conversation went back to work, food and/or possibly hockey, and the mood shifted so starkly that no one remarked on how strange the whole thing was.
Fortunately, I was still early by this point, so I had time not only to witness what may as well have been the work of an invisible hypnotist, but also process it a bit. And while I didn’t come away with any thoughtful takeaways before “early” turned to “on time” and I got distracted by other people, I thought about it just long enough to scribble, on the nearest available thing representing paper, an idea for what might possibly be an amusing doodle for some slow hockeyless day ahead.