Telling Tuesdays 2/7/12-"The food in the refrigerator looked gross."

Welcome to Telling Tuesday, a day reminiscent of those in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought for show and tell. This weekly feature was inspired by an article on, called “How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre.”

It is one of the best articles I’ve seen on the rule all writers know–show, don’t tell–because it doesn’t just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre’s very own examples.

” . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander.” — Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I’ll give a “telling” prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander. Feel free to use the prompt, or the photo (if a photo is shown.) Of course, if you have a completely different “telling” prompt, you can “show” us that, too.

As always, I invite you to leave a link to your website or blog with your comments.


The food in the refrigerator looked gross.

     Ms. Human Resources smiled and opened the break room refrigerator. “And this is where our employees keep their lunches.”
     I had two simultaneous and inseparable urges. One, to turn away quickly, lest I breathe spores the strange life forms surely exhaled upon being exposed to light. At the same time, I couldn’t turn away, overtaken by a curiosity almost as strange as that of a passerby at the scene of an accident. 

     I’d never seen cheese with such a thick five o’clock shadow. The pizza, apparently bored with Parmesan, had decided to grow its own blue cheese.

     But strangest of all was the tiny voice I heard coming from the tomatoes. “I’m melting. What a cruel world. I’m melting.”
     I felt myself turn green as I feared the aliens inside the refrigerator had already infected me with their spores. I held my breath and ran out of the building as fast as my turning stomach would allow.
     “Wait! Wait!” cried Ms. Human Resources. “I’m not finished with my orientation yet. And you forgot your employee badge!”
     Bursting through the door and into fresh air, I bent over my knees and gulped deep breaths. When my lungs felt clear of contamination, I straightened again and stared at the entrance of the building. I couldn’t help laughing at the sign I’d missed earlier:

Bringing new life to those in need. 
This entry was posted in John LeCarre, show and tell, Telling Tuesday. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Telling Tuesdays 2/7/12-"The food in the refrigerator looked gross."

  1. ed_quixote says:

    Surely did work for me: I felt showed not told. But I wondered where you got the photograph. Is that the refrigerator of someone we know?


  2. Jan Morrill says:

    ed_quixote, no worries about this smorgasbord appearing in the fridge of someone we know. At least, I'd never admit it. 🙂


  3. Jan Morrill says:

    Thank you, CarysWeldon! Kind of a tough one to write first thing in the morning. 🙂 Now, I think I'll go clean out my own refrigerator.


  4. Morning, Jan!!!

    I NEVER participate in these kinds of things… and I smirked at your Human Resources spin. OMG have I worked placed where the break room fridge was a biohazard.

    I took a different direction…


  5. Jan Morrill says:

    Thanks for playing in my writerly sandbox with me this morning, Elizabeth. 🙂 I enjoyed your story, too. Yes, it showed “gross,” but it was also full of tenderness.


  6. It was the healthy food items that sparked my imagination… what kind of refrigerator would be full of “healthy fruit and veggies” that would go uneaten? Hence, SICK.


  7. Linda Joyce says:

    Very nice writing, Jan.

    The only thing in my fridge worth mentioning is the Pepto-Bismol pink clinging to the cooked Japanese white rice I made before I left on vacation.
    Linda Joyce


  8. Russell says:

    Dear Jan,
    What an entertaining piece! I love the 5 o'clock shadow, that the parmesan was bored, and the crying tomatoes. We Americans waste enough food everyday to feed our homeless and at least a couple of third-world countries.
    Thanks to your story, I now have a new grasp upon the meaning of gross.


  9. Jan Morrill says:

    Thanks, Linda. I hate to admit, I've seen my share of Pepto-Bismol pink on white rice. 🙂


  10. Jan Morrill says:

    You're right about how much food we waste, Russell. Just another symptom of our over-consuming society. Sorry if I grossed you out. 🙂


  11. Madison Woods says:

    Eeewww. That really was gross Jan, LOL. Here's my attempt:

    Her stomach rolled. Clutching her belly with both hands she tried to suppress the urge to vomit. With one foot she slammed the refrigerator door shut and ran for the front door while holding her breath.


  12. Jan Morrill says:

    Madison, yours was a bigger EWWW than mine. Any passage with a reference to “vomit” wins the gross contest. 🙂


  13. Jan Morrill says:

    This clever little poem was emailed to me by my writer friend, Bud:

    A searching eye blinked but once,
    The smell proceeds his nose.
    Cheesy fuzz’s dance and prance
    And slime got in his toes.

    He slinked away with one red grape
    Whose stem had grown a tongue.
    The table held no feast partake
    His senses had been stung.


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