# of pages written: 12.5
Today I opened the freezer at my mom’s house to get some frozen yogurt and spotted a plastic water bottle full of a yellowy frozen liquid. Written with sharpie on the front of the bottle was “The Vagina Monologues.” I knew if I picked up the bottle and turned it around, it would say “Melody” on the other side.
As funny as it is to open the freezer and immediately see the word “vagina,” it’s equally amusing to think about how old this water bottle is and where it came from.
The water bottle is at least eleven years old and used to belong to my sophomore year of college apartment-mate, Melody, who had been in a production of The Vagina Monologues at William and Mary.
I’d almost sort of forgotten about Melody. She was a tall, pretty girl who was into theater arts and her all-girl a capella singing group. I never really got to know her, but she certainly was dramatic. Once she saw a bug in the bathtub, so she put a frying pan facedown over top of it and placed a note on top of the pan that said, “WARNING! There is a bug under here!!!”
Later, when I found the note, I picked up the pan, quickly squashed the bug with a wad of toilet paper, and threw the toilet paper in the trash. “I killed the bug in the bathroom,” I reported to her later. “Oh, thanks,” she said. She’d apparently gone to take a shower at a friend’s house.
That was probably one of the most pleasant interactions we ever had. For some reason, we passive-aggressively hated each other. I think it had something to do with me inviting my friend Allison to live in our living room so we could split rent three ways (Melody disapproved), and the fact that I didn’t try very hard to be friends with Melody because I was constantly on the phone, in the throes of relationship drama with my out-of-town boyfriend. I think she thought I was socially awkward, money-grubbing, and rude. I thought she was stuck-up. We mostly ignored each other.
I did go to see her in The Vagina Monologues, though. She was the woman who slithers around on stage, demonstrating different types of pleasurable moans. (The machine gun moan, the doggie moan, the diva moan, the college moan, for example.) She was actually really good, but I was sitting next to her parents for the performance, and the awkwardness made it nearly impossible to enjoy the show.
At the end of the school year, Melody moved out of the apartment, and she left her Vagina Monologues bottle behind. “Do you want this?” my mom asked me as she helped me move out at the end of the summer. “Nah, it was Melody’s,” I said. “We can just toss it.”
But my mom doesn’t like to throw things away. She took the bottle home with her. And even though I never really liked Melody, even though I never really knew her or gave her a chance to get to know me, there’s still a little part of her, filled with suspicious yellow liquid, in the back of my mom’s freezer.
Thinking about all of this makes me realize that so many objects in our lives connect to larger stories and characters. I got all of those Melody Memories out of one little glimpse at an old water bottle. In fact, Melody and the Vagina Monologues have helped me come up with two writing exercises for when I (or you) need a little jump-start to encourage finger-to-the-keyboard-action.
#1 Water Bottle Exercise: Choose a few objects in your house/apartment (a lamp, piece of furniture, decoration, etc.) and ask yourself questions about it: When did I get that? From where? Who gave it to me? Who was with me when I bought it? How would I describe the object? Write down the answers in narrative form. You may end up telling a story or creating a character study.
#2 Different Types of Moans Exercise: Choose a broad topic and list different subcategories. In The Vagina Monologues it’s “different types of moans,” but you could do “types of people shopping late-night at Wal-Mart” or “types of books you’ll find on my Aunt Frannie’s bookshelf.” Describe the items in your list. It can be a humorous list or an informative one. Don’t be afraid to make stuff up. If you like your list well enough, you might consider submitting it to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency for their “Lists” column.