Lenny’s Perfume Gift: Writing the Stories of Your Life in Vignettes

Writing the story of your life is a daunting task. You’ve had a million experiences with so much to say, so much to teach, so much to write. How is this writing task ever accomplished? I might just have the answer for you.

My writing classes are all about writing vignettes (pronounced: vin-yets’). An old sounding word, yes, but it’s the stuff of great storytelling.  A vignette is a short story without the backstory. It’s a snapshot without context. A close-up that speaks for itself. It’s short and sweet and complete.  

Here’s one example from my own life story. This vignette was fun to write because it’s about Lenny, one of  my brothers. In Zephyrhills, Florida, they call him Doc Whalen, but he’ll always be Lenny to me. Born less than a year apart (I’m the OLDEST, by the way), we have history. I could go on about our adventures until the cows come home, but this vignette, is a microcosm of our young life together. 

 Lenny’s Perfume Gift

Lenny and I were less than a year apart, so as you might imagine, we’ve had a ton of adventures through the years. One I remember occurred when we were 3rd and 2nd graders. You may have already guessed that I’m the older and wiser of the two of us. Anyway, Susan Rondle was a girl he had a crush on from our school, Immaculate Conception (try explaining that name to your ten year old Protestant friends). 

Having a generous heart, he wanted to get Susan a gift for their first Communion, but we didn’t really have a budget for gifts back then. So we looked at my dressing table and decided to give her a bottle of perfume from my collection.  Lenny selected a really fancy bottle that was partly full. We poured the contents of a few other perfumes into the fancy one until it was full and looked new. We saw no problem with this since they were all the same goldish/yellow color. 

I don’t remember how the gift was received. We moved shortly after that, so Susan was never the big love of Len’s life. All I remember is working together to make a gift for someone. It felt pretty good.

And the irony of it all, as I look back—I really didn’t own any perfume. It was the weaker version called toilet water. How fitting!


Be sure to contact me if you are interested in joining a class in writing your story or for assistance in self-publishing your book. 623.466.5067 or [email protected]

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