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The Impact of Prior Knowledge or Lack thereof on Writing

Shirley Gale

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What you are about to read is my 1st homework assignment for Gotham Writers' Workshop.  I created this narrative based on my African-American cultural experience. My perception of Mr. Sanders may well be different from others due to my  prior knowledge of the man. The Bernie that you will read about comes solely from my limited research and overactive imagination of what he might be like in the mornings.

The homework assignment was to pick one person from a list of people that intrigued me.  I was tasked with writing a scene showing this person getting up in the morning and getting ready to go out.  I had to imagine my person getting out of bed, asking myself where is he? What is the place like? What is his attitude about having to get up? What is his morning ritual like? And what, if anything, does he eat or drink?

Please be aware that this narrative contains colorful language that may be offensive to some in this reading audience.  As a writer and new author,  I would welcome your feedback on this assignment.


Rise ‘N Shine You Old Fart


4:00 a.m.

The alarm clock was blaring Ray Charles’ 2004 hit song, “Hit the road Jack and don't cha come back no more no more no more no more. Hit the road Jack and don't cha come back no more.”

It was time for Bernie to get up. Since starting the campaign, he’d set the radio-clock alarm to its maximum. He couldn’t afford to miss a beat.

“Oh, shut the hell up,” he said, hitting the snooze button.

After having to get up to pee during the night, Bernie had just managed to fall back to sleep at 2:30 a.m.

“Bernie,” his wife yelled, having been awakened by the loud blast of song, “You didn’t!”

“Of course, I did,” he said. “It’s better out than in.”

“That smells awful,” she said, turning away from him and pulling the heavy covers up over her face.

“You need to get your old ass up right now!” She ordered.

“Look, that’s the way a good fart is ’pose to smell,” he said, laughing and kicking back the covers.

He could depend on his faithful morning gas to give him the boost he needed to get kicked out of his own bed. In his mind, he believed that his loud, obnoxious farts deserved to win a trophy.

Filled with a lethal concoction of smelly gas and a bladder filled with ammonia-strength pee, Bernie willed himself to get moving.

4:20 a.m.

 “Time to rise and shine to give God the glory,” he said, half singing his favorite verse.

Before putting on his famous wire-framed specs, he curiously rubbed an old crusty booger from the corner of his bad eye while digging deeply into his right nostril to find a competitor. Absent-minded, he rolled the hardened mucous between his pointer finger and thumb and plucked the tiny ball out into the darkness.

Such was Bernie’s get out of bed ritual—farting and tossing crusty nasal remnants into oblivion.

“Damn it’s cold in here,” he said, taking quick steps toward his ever faithful, white porcelain toilet that patiently awaited his return visits.

“Ahhh,” he said, watching the golden fluid drain steadily from his slightly crinkled-up man part.

Ain’t no dialysis happening here, he thought, giving a proud gaze at the flow, eventually shaking off the last of the few drips.

Bernie considered himself to be in pretty good shape for an old man. Flexing his muscles in the bathroom mirror, he was all too pleased that he could still have a good morning pee of this magnitude. He knew of younger fellows in Congress who could not drain nearly as well as he could.

5:00 a.m.

The hot steam coming from the shower head seemed to huff and puff, hanging billows of fluffy clouds in the bathroom. Bernie looked forward to having the hot water send its warmth to his cold extremities. Often feeling like a cold-blooded reptile, the shower was the perfect heat source to warm his aged bones so that he could move with the competitive swiftness of his younger opponent.

5:10 a.m.

The shower having done its job, the aged man staggered out of the bathroom like a happy drunk. Admiring the man still tucked inside of him, he stood in front of his full-length mirror wearing nothing more than his wrinkled, old, ghostly-white skin.

“Got to get going,” he said as he looked over at the clock that was eating away his precious minutes. “I know she’s already out there. I can’t afford to let her retake the lead—there’s just too much at stake.”

5:20 a.m.

Damn that coffee smells good, he thought.  The coffee pot, percolating with lively song, was as old and faithful as he—always willing to serve. He grabbed himself a huge cup and filled it to the brim.

Strong and black, he thought. Just the way I like it.

Sipping cautiously, the hot liquid would be the energy he needed to stand down those insatiable reporters.

5:30 a.m.

“Bernie Sanders is still holding onto a slight lead over Hillary Clinton…” the TV reporter announced. His television channel was permanently tuned to MSNBC or CNN.

“Shit, I’ve got to get on out there,” he said, talking out loud to himself. “A slight lead is nothing against her.”


5:35 a.m.

“Oh, quit your honking—I’m coming,” he yelled to the door.

Looking almost homeless in a semi-wrinkled suit with his white hair untouched by a comb, Bernie headed toward the front door to meet his impatient driver.

“See you later Baby,” he called back to his wife. “Gotta go kick ’em in their political asses.”

7:59 a.m.

Arriving in the nick of time, a reporter waiting in the front lobby of the Iowa State Capitol asked, “Mr. Sanders, do you still think you can maintain your lead and secure the Democratic nomination for President?”

8:01 a.m.

Fully rejuvenated, Bernie responded, “Yes, Son, I sure do!”


I have a deep respect and admiration for Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

This assignment has been critiqued by my esteemed instructor. His comments and suggestions proved to be valuable in teaching the elements of Character Development I.


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Tracy Bradshaw 1st

Sawbear got to go camping, visit Orange Beach, and fly on an airplane! He got his picture made with the pilots and had great adventures in Kansas City. The rough drafts are completed and can be viewed on Shutterfly.

Dear Shirley Perry-Church, I love your writing about Bernie Sanders. It makes him a real person. We don't always think of presidential candidates as real people. He doesn't want to get out of bed in the morning, and for goodness sake he even farts! You bring candidates to a regular people level, and I like that. Thank you for sharing. Tracy


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