The trunk clicked open with a barely audible sigh, like everything in the Lexis. Even the beige leather seats warmed at the touch of a button. My father pulled out two rackets first, handed one to me, then rummaged for the rest. From the blue TWA bag with the broken zipper, he grabbed an old towel. Its edges were torn like his tennis shirt--that one with the little hole that had gradually gotten bigger. Pulling a salt-encrusted visor tight over his balding head, he gazed out at the empty court. He was about to retire. He'd keep the company car.
I wrote the piece above for an assignment for my MFA Writing Workshop at University of San Francisco: Write a paragraph, no more than 150 words, that describes a character through a physical object.
My professor, Lowell Cohn, wrote: "The car implies luxury and the good life. The ending is unexpected and terrific." I wrote the piece about my dad, who retired early in life. Though he has lived a rather luxurious life, it is in part due to his frugality and lack of value placed on material goods (note the torn shirt, frayed towel and broken bag). He's the kind of guy who chooses a restaurant based on a soon-to-expire coupon, right before leaving for the tennis open in Australia! I wanted to capture that contradiction.
Dear Reader: Try it! If you send it my way I'll post it.