Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chickenshit


By Daddy X

I’ve often been tempted to write a memoir, but afraid to because it might hurt people I know and love. Not that I would say things particularly negative about friends and lovers but it could bring to light issues that some people don’t even know exist. If it sounds like past lies regarding past indiscretions would catch up with me, that’s a good part of it.

None of us gets through life without hurting others; it may not be our intention, or our particular bent. However, in the course of living there are those little betrayals, those mini-lies and tiny omissions that affect a certain convenience at the time but could now be construed as suggesting more serious connotations to our relationships. The braver-than-I Anais Nin goes into this in her diary.

In fiction, our literary efforts are drawn from a melding of past experience and fantasy. We can shape the villain, the hero, the heroine to what we want or need for the story, but when writing about real people we have to get it right. Is our memory skewed by our individual perspective? Another person’s experience of the same incident won’t be the same as ours. Put it down on paper and you may have an argument on your hands. Or a lawsuit. Or lose a friend.

Maybe I’m just chickenshit, but I don’t want to write about people I’ve known. And then again, if I were to write about someone famous (unlikely ‘cause I’m too lazy to do the research) I’d likely get lots of flack on all sides of any issue or detail in the recount. If anybody read it at all.  :>)

Wait a minute! I just remembered I did write a piece about something and someone real. Not much chance of this ever getting back to Hattie, and it didn’t really happen, but it could have:


Reunion What If


“Hi Hattie!”

“Hi Tom. Still the long hair, huh?”

“Not much left now; gotta wear a pony tail and a hat.”

“Boy, did I chase you in high school.”

“I think the first time you asked me out was in seventh grade. Middle school, they call it now.”

“I asked you to all the dances way in advance. Worried you’d ask another girl first, or somebody else would invite you.”

“Ha! Yeah you did.”

“Was that the reason? Why we didn’t- Was I too forward? Too needy?”

“Nah, it just worked out differently. By the way—sorry, I heard when your parents passed.”

“Both within two years.” 

“I remember how they trusted you. When you threw parties at your place, they’d go out and leave you in charge. They really knew you, didn’t they? I remember the only time I ever touched you, you cried your eyes out.”

“You were the first boy ever to make me cry. I was really mad when you met Frannie. I thought she was such a slut. Then you two got married.”

“Actually, we were both virgins until the prom. Took me six months to get into her pants. We still love each other dearly.”

“Really? Wow. You think maybe if…”







8 comments:

  1. for some reason the idea of your being chickenshit made me smile. that doesn't sound like you ;). i don't know how to avoid incorporating people i know in my work. they just end up there or pieces of them do. just as everything else in my life somehow ends up there. all mixed together. i don't know how you avoid writing about people you know, even if it's just a wee bit of their personality or a description of a physical trait...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I made the mistake of telling some friends that in one way or another they showed up in my first book. An even bigger mistake by telling one friend the villain was based partly on him - "I'm not like that," he yelled. Oh yes you are, I thought, then quickly smoothed it over by saying, "Of course you're not, just kidding." After that I vowed never to point out likenesses - what I thought was cute could've been seen as insulting I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Is our memory skewed by our individual perspective?" Of course it is. So much so that if you did ever write that memoir (and I suspect it would be one helluva book!), the people you worry about might not even recognize themselves.

    On the other hand, playing "what if" can be a lot more fun than dealing with the drab realities. Not that your life has been drab, of course, but I think your imagination is even wilder.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, Amanda. Nobody who knows me would call me chickenshit. When Momma and I first met, it was my boldness (brashness?) that attracted her, who was kind of a introverted honor student. It was her intelligence (and good looks) that attracted me. Those exotic dark eyebrows.

    And there ya go, JP. People rarely see themselves as others see them.

    And I get what Lisabet says about folks and their view of themselves, but I bet if my 'Hattie' (not her real name) ever read my little vignette, she'd sure know who it was. :>)

    And I do have a memoir started, riding on the vehicle of my three jobs on Kearny Street, S.F. back in the day. Many of the people have passed, of course, but one barber shop remains in existence with the proprietor's name still on the window. Wonder if it's him. He would give me a line of cocaine when I got my hair cut, instead of the lollipops he stocked for kids. He also had lots of girls hanging around, (also for the coke) some so young I'd have to leave, it was so uncomfortable. There were times he'd have some girl out in his van while I waited for my haircut. He was going to take me to his homeland of Puerto Rico one time, but his wife decided to go. He said that I probably shouldn't tag along, since we wouldn't be able to do what he wanted with the wife along for the ride... Hehe. Maybe I'll look him up sometime.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You'll be first. Couldn't really show it to Momma, ;>) Just kidding, but not really. Momma has no illusions when it come to my penchants, but wouldn't want to hear them in detail. She's not like us. Hehe.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "What If..." would make a a good anthology theme, although it would be likely to get writers in a lot of trouble. it's true that a lot of people wouldn't recognize themselves as we'd portray them, but other people who know them might well.

    ReplyDelete
  7. And the author would be subject to all that comes with the knowledge that you'd cannibalize a relationship for the sake of a story. We all do it, but perhaps we need to mask the characters effectively. Unless the character is a prick in real life and you want to do an expose'. Hehe.

    ReplyDelete