Invented Reading

Don’t know about you but my eyes have been playing tricks on me lately. No, not the menu tricks where I need the arms of an orangutan to order my meal; nor the kind where, stymied to make out a number in the phone book, I’d sell my firstborn for a magnifying glass.

Invented Reading is the phenomenon occurring when the eyes of a middle-aged and quite literate woman begin to read headlines, phrases and sometimes full sentences just slightly off kilter. It makes for an often humorous parallel reality.

Just today I was passing time with the latest Vanity Fair while the pharmacist readied my middle-aged birthday prescription. (The label on the pill bottle instructs me to, “take thirty-two with nineteen gallons of water and holy moly! Stand back! Or better yet, sit down.”) OK, I invented the stuff on the medicine label but I was waiting at the pharmacy reading Maureen Dowd’s terrific piece on Tina Fey in VF.

Dowd shared what a clean whistle Fey is — no bad boys, no drugs and akin to Liz Lemon, her 30 Rock twin, a virgin until she was 25. And then I read, “Her voice is true cupcakes.” Huh? What? My eyes returned to the winsome sentence. Ah. Dowd had actually written of Fey, “Her true vice is cupcakes.” Invented Reading had just reared her head and woombly eyes yet again.

“Her voice is true cupcakes” has a certain charm to it, don’t you think? I got to thinking — what kind of woman has a voice true as a cupcake? Is she homey? Sweet but not cloying? A small satisfying bite of fun? Bernadette Peters, perhaps? Lauren Bacall? Never.

So here’s a brief writing exercise. Join in the fun if you wish. Describe a woman whose voice is “true cupcakes.” Or share a phrase or two of Invented Reading your own eyes have stumbled across. I’ve started keeping a list of these gems. I figure they just might make a wonderful story. Which I shall have plenty of time to work in a week or two — after I’ve washed down the above-mentioned pills with the requisite nineteen gallons of water.

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4 thoughts on “Invented Reading

  1. Only the Half of It

    Rather than take the time to describe such a woman — re: I’m too lazy right now but I love the idea — I will tell you one such woman: with a cupcake voice is Kristen Chenoweth because her voice is impossibly very sweet and childlike.
    As for coming up with word pairings, this is actually a writing exercise I have seen…. and a great one. Forces you to put things together in ways you never would. And I love new and interesting metaphors. Will keep these ideas handy for future use!

  2. emma

    in my mind a woman with a cupcake voice is not a woman at all. She is more a bubbly blond girl with pigtails and a pink frilly dress. She has a bow in her hair and looks like a Valentines day present. Her voice is so sweet that you know she is an utter monster drawing on walls and laughing at your feeble attempts at punishment.
    A Diabalo in disguise.

  3. Cindy L

    I agree with “only the half of it,” who mentions Kristen Chenoweth. (Am so sad that her “Pushing Daisies,” one of the most creative shows on TV, was cancelled.) My gosh, I cannot imagine what you are taking from the pharmacy, but I hope it all goes down well 😉

  4. cindy

    I just saw House Bunny with Anna Ferris (not sure about the spelling or even the name, but it’s close) last night, so she comes to mind, and she has the shiny lip gloss coating every inch of her puffy lips like icing on the cupcake, too;-)

    As for the movie, my husband fell asleep, so don’t bother. If a playboy bunny and a sorority full of hotties in the making don’t keep him awake, there’s something wrong with the picture.

    And happy new year, Debra!

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