Characters in my Building

Characters in my Building

There’s a guy in my building who looks like a caveman. His features are broad, and he has a pronounced eyebrow ridge. He walks around shirtless at all times, and his entire body is covered with fur. He is the sort of guy you can’t help staring at even though it makes you feel like a bad person, like you might have been the kind of kid who made fun of your classmate with the leg braces.

But you can’t just quietly go about glancing at him out of the corner of your eye because he insists on starting conversations. He knows everyone’s name in a building with some 60 apartments, and he asks so many questions that the other person becomes obviously and deeply uncomfortable.

Did you go to St. Louis? Did it rain? Was it sunny? Did you rent a car? What kind of car? Where are you going now?

I have gone to outrageous lengths to avoid his grilling, which makes we wonder if I’m not as nice as I like to think. He’s obviously trying to make friends. We’re all trying to make friends. He’s just not very good at it.


  • Ashley Ream

    30.10.2011 at 13:07

    It’s interesting to think about the characters that appear in our real lives. Do authors think about these people differently than others? I imagine we do. At the very least, we walk away creating back stories for them. How do you suppose this guy came to be?

  • Colin

    30.10.2011 at 18:50

    It’s probably a good exercise both in writing, and in… well, general thoughtfulness, to consider people we’re uncomfortable with, and ask why, and what made them that way? It may even help to create backstory for them, especially if we don’t know their real story. Could we make someone as unsympathetic as such a person appears to us actually more sympathetic? As writers, could we turn someone that appears to be unlikeable into someone who, with the right backstory, we couldn’t help but want to know? An interesting challenge.