Careful, or I’ll Put You in My Novel

On my daily troll of gossip sites a couple of days ago (what? Like you don’t waste time on gossip sites. You’re on here. I know you do), I kept seeing how Ms. Lindsay Lohan is getting sued by a pedestrian with a baby stroller because Lohan supposedly hit her, or tapped her, with her motor vehicle.

Normally I don’t pay much attention to Lohan stories, but this one caught my attention.

I heard a very similar story a couple of years ago. Not because I live in Hollywood, because I don’t, but because people tell me lots of random stuff.

That got me to thinking about all the other information I’ve been privy to.  I guess I have a certain kind of face. People like to tell me stuff, stuff that might be too much information for anyone else.

I should have been a detective, or a spy. But I’m a novelist, which means this:

P.S. This is from Etsy store Bookish Charm. My birthday is coming up. Hint hint.

Now sometimes strangers tell me really interesting things, touching stories about their lives. Last weekend, the cashier at a clothing store talked about her grandmother’s Alzheimer and her cookie recipes; I now know where her grandmother lives, how often she sees her, and the cookie recipe she has forgotten. I love hearing these kinds of stories.

But other times, I’ll be minding my own business, picking up my kids from school or whatever, and someone will start talking about things I’d really rather not hear. Or shouldn’t hear.  Maybe that’s what they always do, talk, and I just happen to be nearby that day.

For example, I was in the school crosswalk, crossing the street with a few other parents when one mother began talking. (Where was this school crosswalk? Let’s just say it was in Hawaii.) First she joked that she was sending me out first to get hit, should one of these cars not stop. Then she kept talking. “I hit a woman in a crosswalk once,” she said. “Oh, she tried to sue me, but really, it was her fault. I barely tapped her. Actually I tapped her stroller. But the baby wasn’t hurt.”

It’s a good thing you didn’t “tap” my baby stroller, lady, I thought, or you wouldn’t be able to walk in this crosswalk right now because I would have broken both your legs irreparably. Seriously. How is it ever the pedestrian’s fault in that situation? I’m sure any judge in the nation would say to that person, “Oh, yes, it was your fault for being in the crosswalk where people are legally required to stop for you.” I could only gape at this mother, and note her age, hair color, height, etc. in case I ever had to ID her in a line-up or at a birthday party.

So maybe that mother was not a mother at all, but was Lindsay Lohan, and she was secretly doing some nanny work. Because how can it be that there are two people in this world who would hit a stroller with their car? Truth’s stranger than fiction, they say.

People have also told me about illegal activities: designer purse parties, pot-selling, building code violating, using false addresses to enroll their kids in school, bilking the food pantry people. Okay, maybe I stop hiding in the priest confessional booth. But really, I’m not sure what it is about me that tells people OKAY TO SPILL-OKAY TO SPILL.

When I was a substitute teacher, oh, neigh 15 years ago now, some kids talked about a big fight happening after school as I stood there listening right outside their circle. It was in the classroom, before the bell. I wondered why they spoke so freely—surely they observed me, an authority figure, eavesdropping. Granted, I wasn’t an impressive authority figure, being 22 years old and regularly getting mistaken for a junior high school student by the other teachers (HEY YOU, GET BACK TO CLASS.) Anyway, I heard the kids’ Big Fight Plan, and called the office. The next day, they were talking about how it got foiled.

Once, I went out with a man. Also a long time ago, obviously, but bear with me.  He told me what he was studying and whatnot and then, somehow, he began delving into the story of his last girlfriend, and how he had cheated on her multiple times and without  remorse.

He asked for another date.

I said no. He asked why not. Gosh, he thought we got along fine.

I said, “Why would I go out with you again when you’ve just admitted how many times you cheated on your last girlfriend?”

I really should have gotten that necklace back in middle school.

Don’t worry. Your secrets are safe with me. Until they aren’t. But I promise I’ll change details and your gender and your appearance until you don’t recognize yourself at all.



Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

2 thoughts on “Careful, or I’ll Put You in My Novel

  1. Love this post. DO NOT understand how anyone could hit a stroller in a cross walk or anywhere else for that matter. The world is crazy, I’m convinced.
    Bless you for writing such fun stuff to read…

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