Hazards of Being a Personal Muse

A Word from Melvin Marvin

Work has been pretty intense lately. I’m finding it difficult to keep up with Marlyn’s demands. Being a personal muse is not easy. I’m expected to inspire ideas, give feedback on the plot, aid in the construction of dialogue, listen to innumerable read alouds, and offer productive criticism as regards flow and relevance. I should also mention the job hazards, and there are several.

Devil's Bridge in Sedona, Arizona water carved bridge of red rock
Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

One time she took me on a day trip to Sedona. I was touched. She told me it was a vacation and to just relax and enjoy the inspiring views. She took me on a hike to Devil’s Bridge. Breathtaking sites. She treated me to a Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks. Sipping on the Frappuccino, we gazed out at an incredible landscape. Being a personal muse has perks. Everything was going so well.

Not all Perks, The Job has Hazards

Then Marlyn asked, “So Melvin, what if we write a book about a woman, let’s call her…Amanda. So, Amanda takes a day trip to Sedona and when she reaches the top of Devil’s Bridge, she’s kidnapped by aliens and taken to their lair on the dark side of the moon? What do you think about that? Sound good?”

I just wasn’t thinking clearly. The whole day trip thing and the Frappaccino just loosened my tongue and I replied, “Marlyn, that is the most ridiculous plot I’ve ever heard.”

Marlyn didn’t take it well. She slurped to the end of her drink and abruptly grabbed me up. She stuffed me in the back pocket of her purse and proceeded to shop.

“Marlyn, I’m sorry. Please take me out of here, it’s dark,” I pleaded.

Melvin Marvin behind bars of a display stand in a tourist shop
Officially punished – Marlyn left me in a tourist shop

“Melvin, you twit, I didn’t employ you to ridicule me.” Marlyn took me out of the back pocket and stuck me behind a barred display in the shop, “Enjoy that, you ingrate,” she goaded as she turned on her heel and left the shop. She left me there for three hours. Clearly, if your employer does not appreciate full honesty, being a personal muse can be hazardous.

Sometime after sunset she returned, apologized, and took me home. The entire event initiated within me intense dread over my obvious lack of control. That’s when my visits to Dr. Conrad began. He’s a great psychoanalyst, if you find you ever need one.

On another occasion, I simply wasn’t in the mood to respond. I admit that I have my own issues to wrangle with, and, frankly, any employer worth working for should know when to push and when to be supportive. But Marlyn can be quite narcissistic and selfish. There are times that she even speaks for me when that is not what I was planning to say. I find that quite disturbing.  I already struggle with issues of ‘control.’ Dr. Conrad informed me that this is not unusual for a puppet, particularly an intelligent puppet, like myself.

Time Outs Suck

puppet placed high on a shelf in a time out
From my Time Out perch

So this one time, when I did not have the mood to respond, Marlyn accused me of indignant silence. She constructed a ‘time out’ area just above her work space and left me there as punishment. It was torture. Not only did my best friend (Marlyn is my best friend, sad to say) demonstrate blatant disregard for the psychological turmoil I suffer from, but she committed me to a location that further intensified my area of weakness, ‘a lack of control.’ Confined to this perch, I was forced to observe her as she worked by herself. Every once in a while she would glance at me, angry and vindictive.

Consumed by my own resentment and frustration, I stubbornly refused to give in and earn my release from the ‘time out.’ I knew she wouldn’t be able to hold out. After all, I provide a vital, irreplaceable service. And that is when the unspeakable occurred. Marlyn jumped up from her chair, grabbed her car keys, flipped me the finger and left the office. She returned a few hours later, brimming with self-satisfaction. She reached into her bag and pulled out my replacement. “Hey, Melvin,” she taunted, “look who we have here. Meet Martha, my new personal muse.” I couldn’t believe it. Suddenly, I realized just how expendable I was…again, no control.

Well, as with everything ‘Marlyn,’ it didn’t last forever. She soon realized that Martha was a horrible muse. Martha simply agreed with everything Marlyn said. “Damn, Martha, you suck! Can’t you offer a bit of constructive criticism? How can I get Amanda out of this predicament? I have her trapped in a cloud of alien mucus.”

To which Martha replied, “There’s nothing to criticize, Marlyn. You are a genius.”

Marlyn looked my way, “What’s your take on this, Marvin?”

I said, “Trash the story, Marlyn. It’s awful.”

A Good Muse is Hard to Find

hand holding Melvin, a bird finger puppet, and Martha, a small plastic large eyed finger puppet
Meet Martha – She works for me now!

Marlyn genuinely smiled, “You’re right, Melvin. I’m so sorry. I should have listened to your advice the first time.”

Martha is still with us. Although she doesn’t contribute much as a personal muse, she does make for an interesting companion. Well, I must get back to work. Hazards do exist, hours suck, and Marlyn is a temperamental time bomb, but I’m needed and that makes it all the more worthwhile.