Don’t you just love people who, the moment you meet them, you think to yourself “I’m going to write you into my book!” Or rather, I should ask, don’t you just love when someone walks into your life and unwittingly provides perfect fodder for a fictional character — even if the person himself is rather insufferable?
One such character walked into my office two weeks ago, and he’s proving to be quite the goldmine. Kudos, by the way, if you immediately knew which fictional character the post’s title is a quote from.
… drum roll, please…
The inimitable Professor Gilderoy Lockhart! Spoken in the following exchange with Harry in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
‘Harry, Harry, Harry. Can you possibly imagine a better way to serve detention, than by helping me to answer my fan mail?’
‘Fame is a fickle friend, Harry. Celebrity is as celebrity does. Remember that.’
Regrettably, Kenneth Branagh did not walk into my office two weeks ago. But, as Muggles go, the man who did walk into my office was about as close as one can get to being Mr. Lockhart.
Names have been changed to protect the Muggle in question.
(Though I doubt very much he’d frequent a humble, nerdy blog such as mine.)
A short background: This man is officially a co-worker, although we are in entirely different departments of a very large corporation, so he’s certainly not a direct peer of mine. Just my next door office neighbor.
I’ve sat here now for a few minutes in front of the keyboard thinking best how to illustrate this absolute gem of a character, but in the vein of showing rather than telling, I shall just list things he has said in the mere two weeks that I have known him.
In no particular order. *clears throat*
‘I paid $4,000 for my 16-year-old son to go to Nicaragua for a week to teach him a lesson in humility and gratitude.’
‘I told my boss I’d quit if I don’t make at least half a mil this year.’
‘I really am a simple creature. I wouldn’t need much more than a $500,000 high rise to live comfortably.’
‘My elder son’s girlfriend’s father trains [major politician]’s children in equestrianism up in the Hamptons. My son summers up there with them.’
‘When I walk into the coffee shop every morning all the cute girls behind the counter wink at me and smile. They all know me there. Today you should’ve seen their pretty little jaws drop when I told them how many lottery tickets I can buy.’
‘I donate at least $10,000 a year to my church. And my alma mater. There are plaques with my names on them.’
‘I really dumbfounded my new boss when I showed him these brilliant marketing materials I designed myself. I’m not using this sh!t that our Legal department gives us!’
‘I know most of the NFL stars in this city personally. They come to me for business advice.’
‘I may be old fashioned, but no matter how many Kindle-iPad-reader app things my kids download for me, I’ll always carry around my Bible like a salt of the earth Christian should.’
‘It’s amazing how fast work gets done when you drop a $100 bill on the IT guy’s desk. What I always say is, either wait in line, or find a way to move to the front!’
**looks at my engagement ring, puts his arm around me, and winks** ‘Honey, you’re young. Let me give you some advice. You better make that boyfriend, or whatever he wants to call himself, sign a prenup if the lotto ticket I bought you wins.’
Mister Lockhart, as we may lovingly (*eye roll*) refer to him here, is 56 years old and approximately 5’8″ tall. Too tall for a Napoleon complex, but a tad too short to have aspirations on being one of the 58% of Fortune 500 CEOs who are over six feet tall. Still, his voice booms as if he were ten feet tall.
Salt and pepper hair, tousled slightly, yet not unkempt. Dimply smile. Clothed like a walking Brooks Brothers advert, mixed with a cheeky, preppy flair. Rarely seen without his designer sunglasses hanging backwards around his neck like a spoiled frat boy. Twinkling blue eyes that wink so often you could set your clock off of them. Chiseled, moon-shaped jaw with a decidedly jagged nose, perhaps once broken while he served our nation in the military years ago. Gesticulates so wildly that you wonder how he’d tell a story were he to ever lose his arms. Has the distinctly middle aged male habit of rubbing his belly and rocking back on his heels when he’s thinking hard about something. Rarely makes eye contact, staring instead at some fixed point in the corner while he talks at you about his wealth and local celebrity.
While I can’t say that I particularly enjoy this vain millionaire calling me “honey” as he regales me with tales of his grandeur, I must admit I do love the delicious fodder he’s giving me for one of the characters in my novel, a man by the name of Doctor Cullifer Johnstone. And, let’s be honest, overhearing some of his conversations through the wall between our offices is quite entertaining.
Tell me, what interesting real life characters have you met who stuck at out you? Have you been inspired to write them directly into your fictional works?