My friend and genius actor Herman Johansen sent me a humorous article yesterday about the worst sentences ever perpetrated against the reading public. Here was the author’s choice for the “all-time worst” of the worst: “Like the wolf he was named for was he, he realized, for his life was solitary above all else.”
What a gagger. But let’s face it, this sentence does not stand alone. It has many close relatives out there. There are even contests for such cleverly terrible sentences, particularly if they begin a story. Here are a few samples from my files on worst writing contests.
“Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped ‘Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.’ ”
“He wasn’t an hombre you’d want to stick your tongue out at or flip off, and any man who tried to tickle him would be asking for a long stay in a pine box.”
“Lightning flashed from the blue-black sky of this alien world and shattered the engines of the spaceship, destroying Reninger’s last chance of escaping and reminding him of the time his sister returned from New York with the tips of her hair dyed blue, except for the part about the lightning and the spaceship.”
“Carmen’s romance with Broderick had thus far been like a train ride, not the kind that slowly leaves the station, builds momentum, and then races across the countryside at breathtaking speed, but rather the one that spends all day moving freight cars around at the local steel mill.”
I realize that I’ve been leaning on the poets lately and they might appreciate a respite while I turn to fiction and nonfiction people. So here you go. Where are you, awful first sentence people? Let ’em rip. We need some humor around here and we’re counting on you to liven things up and make us smile.
Once you have created your gem, do share it with the rest of us!
Okay for you. If no one is going to step forward, I’ll inspire you with this effort.
Peter was a rabbit, had always known, though at times it wasn’t easy when his siblings taunted him and called him “Poor Reception” because as a twitchy-nosed, witless bunny he scampered into the mower’s path and forfeited both ears, for in those days you couldn’t get decent reception on your TV for the Mary Tyler Moore Show or Cid Caesar either if you didn’t have a wire antenna called rabbit ears perched on top and, of course, Peter had neither, but even so he knew he was a rabbit as sure as carrots are orange, only not that icky sort of orange you get in off-brand sodas or two-day-old road-kill on July 24th, which always queasied Peter’s stomach and made his lettuce taste like spinach left out so long it forms that slick kind of green goop, and certainly not the edgy orange of an ambitious sun auditioning for the role of sunset in an Angelina Jolie movie, which, really, when he thought about it, was more of a reddish-purple than orange, but a rabbit was he and proud of it.