This is a writing exercise that turned out rather well. Some friends said it was too funny not to post, so here it is. The directive was to take a childish habit and give it to an adult character.
OH: Why do you do that?
EG: Do what?
OH: That…with the hair?
EG: What am I doing?
OH: You’re twisting your hair around with your fingers.
EG: So what?
OH: My sister used to do that when she was little.
EG: I’m sure a lot of people do it.
OH: Yes, I know that, but it’s just that, given the circumstances, it’s a little…
OH: That’s as good a word as any.
EG: What does it matter?
OH: I suppose it doesn’t in the grand scheme.
EG: My grand scheme, or yours?
EG: Oh. Yes, it doesn’t
OH: Why what?
EG: Why did you want to know?
OH: Know what?
EG: Why did you want to know about twirling my hair?
OH: I was just curious where you picked it up. I never asked my sister.
EG: You think our answers would be the same?
OH: That hadn’t even occurred to me.
EG: Then why?
OH: As I was lying here, I just realized I never asked her.
EG: So instead you asked me?
OH: No, not instead. I just asked.
EG: I don’t understand
OH: You wouldn’t.
EG: Meaning what?
OH: Well, people really aren’t your forte.
EG: Can’t argue with you there.
OH: You never answered, by the way.
OH: Why you twist your hair…
EG: Oh. A nervous habit, I expect.
OH: Nervous? Why are you nervous?
EG: It’s an expression.
OH: A bad one given the situation.
EG: How about an anxious habit?
OH: That fits better.
EG: Yes, it does. I’ll have to remember it.
OH: Please do.
EG: Is that why your sister did it?
OH: I don’t think so.
EG: What then?
OH: When she was little I think it was just something to do with her hands.
EG: And now?
OH: Now she does it when she’s vulnerable, scared.
EG: And you thought I was…
OH: Like I said, I realized I never asked her.
EG: Are you antagonizing me?
OH: Not intentionally. Maybe it’s ingrained.
EG: There’s a thought.
OH: What’s this contraption supposed to do?
EG: It’ll slowly lower you into a vat of lampreys.
OH: Lampreys, huh? Not sharks?
EG: Cliché is one thing, but sharks are passé.
OH: Mad Scientists follow fads?
EG: Well, actually the sharks kept dying.
OH: I see.
EG: Shall we get on with this then?
OH: Sure. But first…
OH: Please stop twisting your hair.
A note for any curious readers: EG stands for Evil Genius and OH is Our Heroine.