Marla Cooper

How to Cultivate an Air of Mystery

marlaThere are lots of great things about being a mystery writer, but one of the best is watching people’s reactions when you tell them that you kill people for fun. Most mystery lovers are in on the joke, but it’s fun when someone’s eyes go wide as they wonder whether or not you’re actually dangerous.

The good news is, you don’t have to write a mystery novel to be mysterious. Here are some strategies that anyone can employ to keep a co-worker guessing or get neighbors to keep their distance.

Speak with a faint accent. Just enough so that the person you’re talking to isn’t sure if you have an accent or not and would feel rude asking. If they do ask, say no and quickly change the subject.

Wear a cape. Dr. Strange. Dracula. Harry Potter. Goldy Gopher. They all understand the power of the cape. There’s no telling what you could be doing under there.

Collect unidentifiable things in jars. (I still have flashbacks to the glassed-in case along the back wall of science class.) When someone nervously asks you what’s in the jars, offer them tea by way of response.

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Trade in your Toyota Corolla. My neighbor’s boyfriend drives an oversized windowless van that had everyone talking as soon as he moved in. Some people thought a family was living in it. Others thought he was selling drugs out of it. Turns out he was using it for an office. Not the van type? Get a Batmobile.

Have a nontraditional pet. Walk a rooster on a leash. (I actually saw a guy doing this once in Miami!) Insist on taking your naked mole rat everywhere you go. Carry your iguana around on your shoulder and baby talk to him. This is guaranteed to simultaneously attract attention and cause people to keep a wide berth.

Sleep in a coffin. This requires a higher level of dedication to the cause. It’s also a good way to get rid of unwanted suitors. (Warning: could actually attract even-more-unwanted suitors.) A quick search yielded an actual coffin bed on Amazon; I encourage you to go there, read the reviews, and leave your own.

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Work on your evil laugh. End conversations with a hearty “Mwa-ha-ha.” It’s clichéd, but super effective.

Readers, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever witnessed someone else do? Oh, and also? Mwa-ha-ha.

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23 thoughts on “How to Cultivate an Air of Mystery

  1. I’m laughing at this list.

    I tell people that I don’t read mysteries for fun. It’s research so I can get away with murder. (I then ruin it by telling them what I’ve learned is I will be caught so there’s no point in trying to get away with anything.)

    NO CAPES!!!!

    Mha-ha-ha

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I tell people I write murder as a hobby, since I’m unpublished. They start lecturing me about how I can self publish, of course. Which is a last resort for me.
    But I like to interrupt them and tell them how I murder people in the stories. My fav is my mushroom killing. Taking a specific ordinary mushroom, safe on its own, and mixing it with alcohol, which makes it toxic and deadly in a large enough dosage. That gets great looks.
    Or this year’s Nanowrimo project, which I’m still trying to figure out why murder? Involving the game Ingress.
    Yes, I am evil! Even gods and goddesses can be evil, as I witnessed last night watching Wonder Woman.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Last week, I was in the local hipster grocery store when a man with fabulous mane of blonde hair wearing tiger striped tights and a long leopard print coat floated through the line next to me. Very David Lee Roth. Thirty years ago and anywhere else but Anchorage, Alaska, he would have blended.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Having spent a good portion of my adult life in NYC, I’d say the scariest thing you can do is start yelling to the air as if you’re actually talking to someone, then stand really close to a stranger on the subway platform as a train is about to pull in.

    Or, as happened to me, be a lunatic woman on the platform who comes up, gets in someone’s face, says, “You looking at my boyfriend?” and refuse to take no for an answer while forcing the person ever close to the platform edge. Then, when that someone – who, yes, was me – says, “I wasn’t looking at your boyfriend, I just went through a really bad breakup, I don’t want to date again EVER!” commiserate with them by clapping them on the shoulder, winking, and saying, “Men, uh?”

    Death by subway averted.

    Hilarious post, M!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. When I lived in Brooklyn, a very heavy-set guy in a trenchcoat, with an umbrella open over his head, rain or shine, was posted on a park bench across from our apartment building. He never said anything, just stared straight ahead. The kids and I called him Glue Man, because he also had a small, crumpled brown paper bag on him. Every once in a while he would take a sniff from the bag. I think he is still there with his.imbrella.

    Like

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