Curly & Straight

Just because I listen to your opinion, doesn’t mean I’m following your “suggestions.” Maybe I’m just curious and listen to what people tell me? Maybe it’s because they don’t realize that I’m listening as a writer—with an ear to word choices for use in dialog OR for other character research? Maybe it’s simply that I don’t jump up with an immediate defensive objection? BUT for most of my life, I’ve encountered people dead set on fixing me!

The older I get the funnier this phenomenon becomes, but there were times when I took the instructions from family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. as direct personal affronts in the guise of loving advice. That’s what they are, but only if you take them seriously.

I’ve been told whom to date, what to wear, what university I should attend, what I should drink, how late I should stay at a dance, and—most often—what I should do with my hair. My extra curly hair has a bunch of fans, but it also inspires a menu of strange objectives.

After countless directives to “try the new Japanese straightening technique” and “get a professional blow out” I had to tell a Tango friend with naturally kinky hair molded into a precise flat hairdo that “I did not hate myself or my hair.” Her need to obliterate her ethnicity was her business. Her need to obliterate mine was stepping over a line!

Why did she see her advice as a loving and friendly gesture? She thought she was sharing her superior knowledge of how to conform to a beauty norm that she embraced. Wow! I didn’t know I’d write it quite that way, but there you have it. She needed to fix me and I didn’t think I needed to be fixed.

From my writer’s point-of-view, there’s something intriguing about a character that needs to fix other characters. There’s a line in a song in the classic musical ‘Guys & Dolls’ (by Frank Loesser based on stories by Damon Runyon) “Marry the man today and change his ways tomorrow.” Many real life people feel compelled to change those around them. Sometimes there’s a genuine, loving motivation: “honey please quit smoking” or “Dad it’s time to get to the dentist before your teeth fall out” but… I’m not talking about that. I’m focused on the need to control and manipulate others with “advice.”

That kind of character would make a great victim in a murder mystery. Don’t you agree?

My shadow on a windy day.


  1. Ouch…I hate to admit it, but I’m a mrs fixit at heart. I keep my mouth shut most of the time but sometimes it’s hard. Luckily, I think your hair is absolutely lovely just the way it is. If you do kill off a Fixit character, please give him or her a few redeeming qualities. 😀

    • Candy Korman

      Thank you for the first laugh of the day!
      You are a fix-it lady? Wow… but you have the self awareness that they don’t so, don’t worry YOU won’t be killed off in a story. The “fixers” KNOW that they are right and that they are not being intrusive, just helpful.

      As for redeeming qualities, balance in characters is a serious issue. People who do wrong without reason are difficult characters in fiction. We want our heroes to have minor, but attractive, flaws to make them human and we want our criminals to be fascinating and filled with touches that make them even more human than the heroes. Killer by night/excellent mother by day… Mafia Don/devoted family man, etc. Reality is less balanced and bad people are often bad. Even good people can be dreadful in real life. Perhaps a compulsive Ms. Fix-it (not you) is admirable at a distance but when she interferes one too many times…. Just blue sky at the moment. Not sure when/how the story will come, but the next person who makes a stupid suggestion about my hair may very well wind up as the model for the victim. LOL….