It’s 7am on a Saturday and I’m on my second and a half cup of coffee. Don’t get wrapped up in the coffee math, just trust me. For some reason, I woke up an hour and a half later this morning than my normal 5am eviction from the Land of Nod and I was a little confused as to what day it was. We can blame that on the holidays and the fact that we just returned from a non-weekend getaway to Savannah, and my wife is in the midst of a sporadic work schedule where she works a day and takes a couple off in an effort to use up vacation time before it falls victim to the dreaded end-of-year evaporation. (For The Record, I’ve never understood how vacation schedules work and why the use-them-or-lose-them principle is even an existent thing.)

But, let’s get back to me and my fogged up morning discernment skills. I stumbled through the kitchen, managed to get the coffee measured into the filter and punch the right buttons on the front of the electronic heat-n-drip, then moved to my office to plug in my phone and scroll Facebook.

My first visual was a 3-column word graphic asking me to reveal how picky of an eater I have become over the years. One look at the list and I knew that the only one who could challenge me in this contest was my wife, she doesn’t eat beans, peas, rice, or chocolate and neither of us eat shellfish (oysters, crab, shrimp, snails) or pork.SEE FN (You’ll see that pork is listed as a standalone item and that ham and bacon made the list as separate items, as if those who don’t eat pork somehow make an exception for ham or bacon). In fairness, she’s allergic to chocolate or anything that’s made with cocoa. You’d be surprised how many desserts that eliminates.

For some reason, eggplant and tofu made the list of options, but rice was left out. I guess the designer of the list figured that everyone ate rice. Not true, my friends… not true. The list creator also misspelled lettuce, but that’s an editor’s issue.

After browsing the list and declaring my wife and I to be the hands down first and second place pickiest eaters among our circle of friends, I continued to scroll. The next item that sucked me in was an article from a writing critic that was headlined, “Deadliest First Page Sins.” Written to be purely pedantic, the article was fighting an uphill battle to hold my attention going in. I waded through 2/3rds of it though before skipping to the comments section.

Conclusion: the Deadly Sins highlighted in the article could be found within the works of most widely read and dearly loved authors and the only truly grievous violation on the list was something that any editor worth paying would catch and fight to their last drop of red ink to resolve – the sin of having no centralized voice of story narration. In essence, a story can have a thousand voices, but someone has to wrangle the cats and give the reader a chance to see the story unfold under the direction of one dedicated point of view.

For an example of this principle at work, you may want to explore the movies Vantage Point and Traffic. In both cases, the story is told from multiple perspectives. Whereas each movie wraps up nicely and is pretty enjoyable overall, both are difficult to follow at times and the overall narrative can get a little frustrating. Some segments of Traffic are confusing and Vantage Point is just downright repetitive.

Here’s the bottom line. To tell a story, you need someone who knows the story sitting in the omniscient, disembodied storyteller seat. This voice doesn’t have to be a part of the story, they’re simply there to be the prominent voice in the head of the reader that keeps the reader’s hands and feet inside the ride at all times and steers the ship in the direction the writer intended. Jean Shepherd does a fabulous job with this during A Christmas Story.

This brings us to the place where my morning fell apart. I am, if anything, easily distracted. This is why magic is so magical for me. My wife wants me to tell her how the illusionist with the smile-smirk did what he just did and I’m all caught up with the girl in box who turned into a leopard and the guy in the back row who ended up holding a balloon that contains the 8 of hearts, autographed by front-row-Heather. I don’t want to know how Mr. Smile-Smirk did it; I just want a picture with Heather and the leopard.

Anyway, the ground beneath my feet began to crumble when I came across a French term in the article about writing. I was barely halfway into my morning coffee supply at the time, so you’ll have to forgive me if the term raison d’être brought to life the voice of southern charm in my head that sounds a lot like Earnest. “Hey Verne… Verne… what’s raisin d’tier?”

As noted, the term comes to us from the French and it’s actually an expression of fairly recent origin, dating back to a first use on record by John Stuart Mill in 1864. In short, the term is used to indicate the justifiable reason for the existence of something and it’s pronounced RAY-zohn DET-truh.

By now, you may be wondering, “What’s the RAY-zohn DET-truh of this blog post?”

Valid question. Keep in mind that you’re reading an entry in the Saturday Morning Ramble category and they’re called Rambles for a reason. In this case though, now that I’m into my 3rd and a half cup of coffee and have logged another 2300 or so keystrokes, including about 312 taps of the backspace key, I’m thinking that RAY-zohn DET-truh can be useful at this time of the year.

We’re just about to toss out one calendar in favor of a fresh one and before College Football completely hijacks this annual season of retrospect and resolution, I’d like to gift you one last Christmas item – a RAY-zohn DET-truh Filter. If only I could get with some fancy maker of electronic toys, I’d patent the filter and build it into a scanning tool. The voice will be named John Stuart, in honor of John Stuart Mill and have a British speech pattern (he was actually British, not French). Maybe we’ll produce a southern version and name the voice Earnest. I’m sure there’s potential here, maybe even room in the budget for a Yoda voice if the first batch of scanners sell well.

For now, I’m just going to grab a small flashlight and pretend as I walk around the house, the garage, the yard and flash the beam on any item that catches my fancy and I’d like to officially invite you to do the same.

“Hey Earnest, what’s the RAY-zohn DET-truh of that dusty box in the corner?”

“Hey Verne… You won’t believe what’s in that box, Verne… It’s some plastic quart-sized storage containers, a roll of wax paper, and a few old wooden spoons from 2007. Looks like you’ve taken it with you the last two times you moved and haven’t actually opened it in about 10 years. What do ya think, Verne? Finally time to throw that one out?”

Maybe. In fact, there’s probably a whole lot of things in this garage that barely move the needle on that RAY-zohn DET-truh meter. It may be time to move several boxes to the curb for pick up or donation. What’s next?

A FOOTNOTE ON PORK My wife and I do not abstain from eating pork as a matter of any religious practice. Cutting pork out of our diet was more of a health choice that we made several years ago as a result my non-so-stellar cholesterol and triglyceride numbers and the knowledge that heart issues run in my family. It was a subjective choice that has since been reinforced in times when we have eaten foods that included pork (bacon or ham seasoning is commonplace in the south) and gotten quite ill as a result.

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