Why A Goat?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why "Why A Goat?"

This is Lisa. She's my best friend and the first great love of my life. I've been lucky enough to have two and Lisa was my first. We were going to spend our lives together. I was going to write novels and she was going to write music. She was my Cinnamon Girl and I was her Hurricane.

Isn't she beautiful?

But Lisa is an addict. She's recovering now, which means she no longer uses or abuses any substance, but during our great love affair she was just starting her own great love affair with substances. At that time it was alcohol. Later on she moved on to cocaine, crack, and finally heroine. She's done them all, baby, and man, does she have some stories to tell about her journey to sobriety.

But those are her stories and one day she wants to write them down herself. She's given me permission to tell one or two of the ones in which I was involved, but the majority of them are hers to tell.

When Lisa was twenty-four she disappeared. Her mother contacted me for the first time in six years to ask if I knew where she was, but I knew less about what Lisa was doing than her parents did. The last time I had seen her was right before my son was born and she got into a drunken altercation with a group of Mexicans. I had to get my husband to bail her out of that one. Actually I think I saw her a few times after Roland was born, but that was the last memorable occasion on which I had seen her.

Now she was gone without a trace, literally. I was worried and I called a few friends to see if I could track her down, but I didn't spend a lot of time on it. There's a fatalistic attitude you have to take when you're involved with somebody who's so single-mindedly dedicated to self-destruction. It's psychological self-protection.

Nearly a year later, Lisa turned up. She had been on some kind of road trip from hell, or maybe to hell and back. We sometimes joke around that we've been to hell and back together, but really she went without me. It was a classic road trip, straight out of the pages of Homer's Odyssey, or perhaps Dante's Inferno. One of these days I'm going to write a screenplay based on it. It'll be a cross between Oh Brother Where Art Thou and Kalifornia, with maybe a little Natural Born Killers thrown in for giggles and grins.

Lisa had many insane adventures on her road trip to hell and back: some light and some dark. At one point she was asked to drive from where she was to pick up some women who needed a ride. When she arrived, one of the women had a goat that she wanted to bring with her. The large group of women could barely fit themselves into Lisa's little car, let alone with this goat. So they crammed in, dragged the goat in after them, and it kind of capered all over them during the ride. It also shit little goat turd-balls in Lisa's back seat.

Why a goat? Lisa had an answer for many of the things that happened to her on her road trip, but she didn't have an answer for that. Were they going to eat it? Was it a pet? Were they transporting it to a goat farm? She didn't know because she had never asked.

It's become a pet phrase of ours over the years. We never have been able to figure out why there was a goat in Lisa's car that day, even though it was pretty obvious why it shit little goat turd-balls in her back seat. Every so often I'll ask her, "Lisa, why a goat?" And she will answer, "I still don't know."

Writers like to explain things. We like to find the story behind the scene. A man gets on a bus wearing a dress, but is making no attempt to look like a woman. He just looks like a man in a dress, hairy legs and all. Why? What happened before he got on the bus that made him decide to put the dress on? Is it a fraternity prank? Did he wake up at his girlfriend's house with nothing to wear and had no choice but to borrow her dress? There's a story that preceded this one scene of a man in a bus wearing a dress (this really happened to me too, by the way) that explains why he's there now…wearing his dress.

So let that be a lesson to you. If you're on a road trip to hell and back, you might not ever find a logical explanation for each and every little thing that crosses your path. It's all well and good to wrap everything up in a neat little package and explain all the details. Audiences have come to expect that, so throwing in a man in a dress or a goat in a car might just make them angry at you. But it might not. And it might be a good idea to throw an unexplained goat into your story every now and then, just to keep your readers on their toes.

Why a goat?

Who knows.

By the way, please join me in wishing Lisa a very happy birthday this Wednesday, Dec 6.


  • At 3:52 PM, Blogger GameArs said…

    Happy Birthday Lisa!

    That certainly sounds like fodder for one heck of a script. There might even be a lesson here that some questions are perhaps best left unanswered.

    Why a goat?

    Does it matter?

    Amazing post, Miriam!

  • At 4:59 PM, Blogger Mim said…

    Thanks. I didn't want to build it up like it was some amazing story and then disappoint. Parts of it are amazing, but not really that one. It's just the part that stuck over the years.

  • At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Unk said…

    Many happy returns of the day, Lisa and WRITE THAT STORY!

    On a side note... I used to work in Reno... LOL.


  • At 7:16 AM, Blogger Mim said…

    Thanks, Unk. No wonder you've done such a great job bringing Paco to life. Reno is like the poor man's Las Vegas. I'd rather live here than further south.

  • At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Unk said…

    I love Reno... My favorite place to play Blackjack is the Bonanza Casino north of downtown. I used to work near there and played there just about every day...

    I'm a card counter from way back. LOL. The Bonanza was always kind enough to add to my monthly income...

    Not a very good crap table but a nice little place for the locals.


  • At 6:52 AM, Blogger Webs said…

    Thanks, Mim.

    Oops, my five minutes of free time is up....

  • At 3:43 PM, Blogger Mystery Man said…

    Great post, Mim!

    You know I still get comments on my "The Queen" post about that stag that was in the movie. Why the stag? Why a goat? But, ya know, everyone I know who has seen "The Queen" loves to talk about that stag. Much like your goat, I think.

    Yes, she is quite beautiful, as are you.


  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger Mim said…

    Aaaawwwww, shucks.

  • At 8:58 PM, Anonymous lisa said…

    mim is ever so complimentary. i will clear up one thing though. the goat in question was a poor little guy who's sibling had met a very untimely and sad death at the hands of a harsh texas snowstorm. i was travelling across the US in a mustang with a married couple. the husband's family lived in sweetwater texas, where we stopped for a brief visit. the day we got there we found out that the one goat had died due to the cold and the other was in danger of the same fate if he were to stsay much longer. so we decided to take bejamin (as the goat had become known to us) with us as our next destination was baton rouge louisiana which has a much warmer climate at that time of year. so, at that time, there were "four people, two cats, and a goat in my 1995 LX mustang travelling along the southern united states between sweetwater texas and baton rouge, louisiana. mind you, that was a relatively small portion of the eventual total mileage covered during this particular road trip. but it definitely was not the least eventful. i know that there is one days inn out there that may never get the smell of baby goat out of the bathroom of room 120.

  • At 9:03 PM, Anonymous lisa said…

    one other thing. i do not usually make so many spelling and/or grammatical errors. that post was written in haste as my 80 pound doberman was horking up about four cups of water mixed with dog treats. i was a bit distracted. i will try to do better the next time i post to dear mim's blog.

    and people, just so you know. this woman is a trip. she's my oldest and best friend in the world.

    and can anyone tell me how to post without having to figure out those weird letters in the words at the bottom of the screen?

  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger Mim said…

    She says I'm a trip. Isn't she sweet?

    Sorry, sweetie. The letters have to be there.


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