Mystery Object

In my writing workshops (which is where I am a couple afternoons a week), we play a game called “Mystery Object.” I ask my students to describe a real world object — preferably something in the world around them — without naming it in their descriptions. Then, at the beginning of each workshop, the students take turns reading their Mystery Objects out loud while the rest of us try to guess what they are. There are a few rules: MO’s must be at least six sentences long; they cannot include the word “you;” each must contain one simile and one metaphor. Occasionally I add other rules: every word in the description (except for prepositions and articles and conjunctions) must begin with the letter ‘L’ (or some other letter); MO’s can only describe the effects of the object, and not its physical features; every sentence must contain a simile; and so on.

Recently a couple of students noticed that I wasn’t participating.

We refer to this object as a pair, even though it’s really just one thing, just as we do with a pair of pants. They are as familiar to their wearers as the ends of their noses, which is helpful because that’s where they often are. They are made of glass (and sometimes plastic), carefully ground to bend light in a special way, astronomical lenses for the common man. Cleverly designed frames hold the glass in place, and small arms reach back to hook behind the ears and anchor the device in place. Frames and lenses come in many shapes and sizes, but this particular pair features slender wire frames and clear plastic bridge-pads and shaped pieces of ground glass that offer rectangular windows on their wearer’s windows to the soul. People have used these to correct flaws in their eyesight for centuries. I have used mine for only a couple of years.