Project Description

We Joneses are borderline stalkers yet have managed to avoid the long arm of the law–so far.

Take Sara Evans—a simple “related-by-marriage” designation has resulted in years of possibly unwanted backstage “family reunions” involving all three of us Jones kids.

My two sisters also managed to exploit my one-year college association with Sheryl Crow resulting in a personal backstage photo shoot with both Sheryl and her unsuspecting sister Karen.

Gaining face time with assorted NASCAR greats has become a Jones family art form. (Poor Carl Edwards.)

Much to my surprise, my relatively new Southwest Florida home has presented me with even more opportunities to rub elbows with visiting celebrities.

As I like to fancy myself a budding literary star, imagine my elation at coming face-to-face with my “colleagues” and fellow publishing giants Augusten Burroughs, Nicholas Sparks and Janet Evanovich.

To be clear, I was a legitimate guest at Sparks’ and Burroughs’ events and was not forced to hide in the bushes outside their hotels.

Evanovich graciously took me to lunch–on the beach no less. However, she did choose a very public place with lots of witnesses.

Wise woman, that Janet Evanovich.

As I have read each and every one of Burrough’s published works–including Running with Scissors–I literally genuflected before a bemused Burroughs to express my admiration. Though this is probably not the first time Burroughs has brought a man to his knees, my very public (yet non-sexual) approach seemed to come as a bit of a surprise.

And Sparks, who’s The Notebook remains one of my favorite books and films, found himself in an impromptu Men’s Room conversation with me, his ebullient fan.

No, I did not see “it” and you people need to stop asking.

That said, every self-respecting man must wash his hands before leaving a restroom. Why do it alone?

For her part, Evanovich has written almost as many books as appear in the Bible.

Score: Bible = 66, Evanovich = 51

However, other than fame, fortune and appreciative literary agents, what do these three astonishingly successful writers have that I do not?

For one, each has a literary voice that is adored by millions. I have a literary voice that even my children avoid listening to most of the time.

But, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures: it’s clearly time to chuck my less-successful writing style and channel the considerable gifts of Ms. Evanovich, Mr. Burroughs and Mr. Sparks.

So here you have it–a literary Rashomon–one story told from several different points of view. Try to ignore the fact that only one version is actually mine and the other three are “borrowed.”

The Poser
By Randall Kenneth Jones

Randall Kenneth Jones future football starWith my height, large frame and broad shoulders, my dad’s dream was for me to play football. My father would regularly usher me into our side yard and insist I practice tossing the football around.

We still have this wonderful series of pictures of me, looking every bit as serious as football great Sonny Jurgensen, posing in our side yard with football in hand.

After that football-themed “photo session,” I went inside to clean up.

My mom, obviously somewhat surprised by my positive attitude toward another forced football practice session, commented that I appeared to have had fun playing today.

My response, “Well, I hate football but I loved posing for those pictures.”

Running with Football
By Randall Kenneth Jones as Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs and Randall Kenneth JonesWith my height, large frame and broad shoulders, my drunk dad’s dream was for me to play football. My drunk father would shove me out into our side yard and insist I practice tossing the football around with his drunk self.

We still have this pathetic series of pictures of me–looking every bit as absurd as football great Joe Namath in Beautymist panty hose–posing in our side yard with football in hand. Since my dad was drunk, the pictures are a little blurry.

Afterwards, I went inside to clean up because my drunk dad had barfed a little on me. My psychotic mom, obviously somewhat dismayed by my attitude toward another forced drunken football practice session, psychotically commented that I appeared to have had fun playing football with my drunk father today.

My response, “Well, I hate football but I loved posing for those pictures. Of course, you don’t really know who I am so what does it matter?”

The Playbook
By Randall Kenneth Jones as Nicholas Sparks

Randall Kenneth Jones Laurent McAuley and Nicholas SparksThe Mid-Missouri humidity hung in the air like dew on a toadstool. My father, the kindest man to ever walk this fine earth, had but one lofty dream for his tall, broad-shouldered boy: to be a celebrated gridiron star.

A Northern Bobwhite lightly fluttered its wings before delicately landing on my mother’s petite shoulder as she snapped photo after photo of our father/son footballian bonding experience. Both bird and mother could not stop rhapsodizing over the familial bliss unfolding before them.

Then the moment came for the long pass. My father reared back, football firmly in hand before releasing it toward the heavens with both undaunted power and airborne precision.

As I left the confines of our side yard and rushed to the nearby road to leap for the approaching sphere, I was overcome by an urgent need to capture the spiraling pigskin and make my beloved father proud.

That’s when I was hit by the Schwan’s Foods delivery truck–and died.

Looking out for Number One
By Randall Kenneth Jones as Janet Evanovich

Janet and Randy 1“Dad, mom found the gun again—she’s going to shoot someone in the head.”

“At least she’s not driving—I’d rather take the chance she’ll shoot someone than put her behind the wheel and let her wreck another car! Shut up, let’s play football!”

With my height, large frame and broad shoulders, my dad’s dream was for me to play sports. Despite the fact that I was far more interested in rearranging my closet and playing with my hamster, my father would regularly usher me into our side yard and insist I practice tossing the football around.

We still have this wonderful series of pictures of me looking like a preteen-pigskin-playing pretender in a too-tight jock strap. Mom “shot” these too. There were typically less causalities when she was wielding a Polaroid as opposed to, for example, a Glock.

After that football-themed “photo session,” I went inside to clean up.

While my dad scurried around to find yet another hiding place for mom’s ever-growing collection of firearms, my mother, obviously somewhat surprised by my positive attitude toward another forced football practice session, commented that I appeared to have had fun playing today.

My response, “Well, I hate football but I loved posing for those pictures. By the way, is that another dead body in the cubby hole in the garage?”

“Yes, just please don’t tell your father.”

***

Though some may describe Jones sibling antics as “stalking,” we prefer the less felonious term: research. So David Sedaris, please don’t say you weren’t warned.

Marketing guru, business humoristprofessional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.