Scott and I are extremely well matched. We read the same books. We share the same favorite color. Our politics are the same, our spiritual beliefs are closely aligned, we both would rather take a hike in the mountains and go camping than spend the day in the city and dine in fancy restaurants and stay in fancy hotels. Our kids are even alike: our sons both have degrees in history, and our daughters are both aspiring entertainers. All this makes for a very mellow relationship. We don’t fight, because there is nothing to fight about.
Except for two things: he absolutely hates mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream—anything white and creamy. And I hate The Marriage of Figaro. I love opera, don’t get me wrong. But Marriage of Figaro? I don’t care if Mozart wrote it (and I love Mozart). It’s a terrible opera. It goes on, and on, and on, and on, and … you get the picture.
Mayonnaise, yogurt, and sour cream, on the other hand, are a delight to the senses. How can you make a perfect sandwich without mayo? I’m not even talking Kraft or Hellman’s here; I love the canola oil mayo you can buy at Trader Joe’s that’s like eight bucks a jar. Yogurt is synonymous with lunch for me, especially my own home-made yogurt, which is better than Dannon or Mountain High any day (I have a secret ingredient they don’t have). And sour cream? What’s an enchilada without sour cream on top?
The funny thing is, Scott’s quite the gourmet cook. I’d rather eat his eggplant parmesan (with several different sauces, all made from scratch, between the layers of eggplant) or his soyrizo and sweet potato tacos than just about anything else on earth. How can a gourmet cook not like white creamy stuff?
Of course, he’s a musician (classical guitarist) and music
professor. So he’s certain he’s right about Marriage of Figaro and I’m wrong, because he’s the expert and I’m not.
So we stay away from the topic of white creamy foods and poor Figaro, agreeing to disagree. Except, he’s wrong and I’m right.
So what does this have to do with writing? It’s all about conflict resolution. Conflict resolution is, or course, important in a story. You don’t want the murderer to go unpunished in a murder mystery; you don’t want love to go unrequited in a romance novel. You have to resolve the central conflict in your story.
But that doesn’t mean there can’t be conflicts left in play. Unresolved conflict is what leads to lively discussion about a story. Unresolved conflict makes us think. It’s what makes us want to re-read our favorite books over and over again, hoping for a different ending that never materializes. Unresolved conflict is what makes us identify with certain characters more than others, because we know ourselves just how painful that unrequited love is, or the pain of being wronged and not getting any justice. Face it, would Shakespeare have written such a beautiful story if the Capulets and the Montagues had told Romeo and Juliet that they could marry and everyone live happily ever after? Although maybe that isn’t such a good example; I guess double suicide is conflict resolution. Not pretty, but it certainly is resolution.
I’ve got to stop now. Scott just put on his CD of Marriage of Figaro, and it’s going to curdle the yogurt I’m making. This is one conflict that’s going to get resolved, one way or the other, right now. And since I’m right and he’s wrong … well, I’ll be back to blog another day.
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* This edition of Smoky Talks…was originally run on Xanga four years ago. Smoky stands by her hatred of The Marriage of Figaro. Scott still refuses to eat mayonnaise, but Smoky has high hopes for him in the future.