They're Coming To Take Me Away, Right?

posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken

I wrote an article a few weeks ago for the local newspaper about a doggy day care center. Visiting the place was a lot of fun and it made me want a dog again. Our old dog died last summer; I should blog about it, because she could have gone paw-to-paw with Marley for the title "World's Worst Dog." Marley My husband and I are listening to the book now but I have been warned that if my goal is to convince Himself that it's time to get another dog, this is not the wisest title to choose.

Anyway, the dogs at the Bark-o-Lounge were fun, and the manager pointed out that, with all the activity during the day, the owners get their dogs back in the evening, tired and mellow, willing to lie quietly at their feet and be The Ideal Dog.

So day care isn't just for kids anymore. My late mother-in-law, who lived alone in Denver well into her 80s, was hooked up with the Volunteers of America, who picked her up every weekday in an airport van, holidays included, and took her to a senior center where she was in charge of making toast. Being in charge of making toast for the other elders was a good thing; their penchant for swapping their meds, alas, was not. She was a regular there for several years; one of her neighbors, who was rather reality-challenged, kept asking why Dorothy went to the airport every day.

Well, a couple of us got to thinking. Doggy day care. Kiddie day care. Elder day care. Why does't somebody provide day care for writers?

Think about it. A van picks up the writer in the morning, which solves the work-at-home problem of all that laundry piled up, the dirty dishes in the sink, and most of all the kids' assurance to needy teachers that "No, Mommy doesn't work and you can call her for (fill in the blank: cupcakes, costumes, chaperoning, whatever)." I'm not being sexist; you are free to substitute "Daddy" as appropriate.

The writer is taken to a chosen venue for the day. Perhaps she (I'm simplifying here; read: "he" if it suits you) likes a corner of the coffee shop, a back table in the library, or a bench at the beach. Most of us, perhaps, would opt for a comfy office with an overstuffed chair and a clutter-free desk with telephone and computer. There we could spend the hours plotting, developing characters, tweaking dialog, or doing phone interviews, without the home/office pressure. An entire staff of tech weenies would be available to handle computer woes, and an afternoon hour would be set aside for naps, with creativity-inspiring music in the background.

Once the Writers Day Care is established, there are plenty of opportunities to enhance the experience. Say you're writing a British cozy. An inobtrusive butler brings you a cuppa for Elevenses and a pot of Earl Grey with scones and clotted cream for Afternoon Tea. The server would draw you a warm bath on particularly trying days.Cup_of_tea

If you're writing hardboiled detective fiction, the center would be sure to keep a full bottle of whiskey in the bottom drawer; at 4 pm a nurse would appear to bind the wounds from the inevitable fisticuffs and errant gunplay.

Writers for children can expect milk and cookies, and their postprandial naps are taken on floor mats with teddy bears and well-worn blankies.

Romance writers will have a Hunk available at all times...for research, of course. You can opt for Fabio, Robert Redford or Johnny Depp. Choose your generation.

For a field trip, on Wednesdays the whole group is transported to the office of a local psychiatrist, who, for a small fee possibly even covered by major health insurance carriers, will help with problems like writer's block.

At the end of the day, the writers are returned home, mellow, productive, and loveable.

It's a win-win situation: the writer writes and the family gets back a parent or spouse they will actually enjoy spending the evening with.

As with the Home Forensics idea (see blog from June 14, below), feel free to take this one and run with it. And as soon as you're ready, sign me up.

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