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.