The stories we tell

The thing about spending time with someone who has known you for a long time is their ability to call bullshit on you. I hugely enjoy being in the bullshit-calling role and love to smirk at people - SUNNY - who try to rewrite history and make up stories about themselves. This is known as embellishing and sometimes as lying.

I've been smirking at Sunny over people's shoulders since seventh grade. That was the age that she started saying things like, "Yeah, I have this uncle from England, I mean, from Africa, and he's flying me in to his village this weekend. So I won't be at soccer practice."

People believed her! Moms and coaches would say, "Well gosh, I didn't know Sunny had an English Africa uncle but she's visiting him right now." It killed me.

I'd known her Midwestern-Scandinavian butt since it was covered in a diaper and I was sure that if she was missing practice it was because she was brooding elsewhere. Why did everyone wanted to be a cheerleader? And wear pink lipstick since leaving elementary school? And get so bitchy and backstabbing? Why did life suddenly suck? It was so much better in sixth grade.

I was just jealous that she was thinking creatively to get out of that mess instead of playing along as I was doing.

Later, in high school, when I had finally liberated myself from the clique, we both lied. We were at one of the many reggae concerts we went to at Bogart's. I was feeling terribly grown up in my Gap jeans and Guatemalan t-shirt that I'd bought at a craft table after church when a man in dreadlocks started asking us questions.

"Hey, where you from?"

"I'm from New York and she's from Los Angeles."

"And you met up in Cincinnati to see some reggae?"


What? It could happen!

And if you think that our moms dropped us off down the street since we don't have driving licenses yet, you'd be WRONG. TOTALLY WRONG.


Then there are the stories one admits sometimes, the stories that are true.

I sat in Charlie's Berlin kitchen after dinner and we talked about being teenagers. I was telling him about the summer between eighth and ninth grade when my clothes and moods got blacker. That summer I quit hanging out with the mean girls but my hormones were kicking in so I turned into a little nightmare all on my own. At least for my family, if for no one else.

I told him about when my parents said I could get alcohol for Joanna's 18th birthday party and then changed their minds, worried that kids would drink at our house and drive away drunk. Until we came to the agreement that everyone drinking would spend the night, I sat in the backseat of the car, crying, yelling, punching the seat in front of me, and cussing my mom out.

I re-enacted the scene for Charlie, both my part and my mom's, who said simply, "I've never spoken to YOU with such disrespect."

I'm ashamed to remember how I acted that day. I was so concerned with how uncool I would seem if I didn't have booze at a party. I thought that was so important, much more important than how I spoke to my mom.

Charlie and I laid our heads on the table and held our heads in our hands and groaned. He told me a story about himself and we groaned more about what little assholes we were. Hopefully we are better now.

Dejected, we shuffled into his bedroom, which we'd been calling the WOMB for its warmth and comfort. We crawled in bed and pulled the covers up. We laid in silence, staring at the ceiling and remembering more about what it was like to be a jerk teenager and not a Disney character.

Eventually we laughed about how talking about family immediately sent us to the closest womb on hand, his room, to furl our way back in and feel out an apology: I'M SORRY, MOM.

When I saw Joanna in London, I asked her about my birthday party temper tantrum. She remembered it, not surprising since she had been sitting in the backseat with me when it happened, staring out the window and feeling extremely uncomfortable. Surely at that point she wished she was back in England where everyone had been going to pubs for a few years and didn't scream the f-word at their mother over some damn wine coolers.

Joanna suggested I make a LIST of things to apologize to my mom for. Wasn't that thoughtful of Joanna? She even made suggestions as to what else I should put on the list. I think she is enjoying this a little too much.

Apology #2: Staying out all night at her wedding four years ago. Apparently my mom didn't sleep too well that night. I just assumed that since everyone at the wedding was staying in the same castle surrounded by fields, it was pretty straightforward: I was SOMEWHERE close by. And I was 28. Therefore, see ya.

Evidently it doesn't work that way. I'M SORRY. Sheesh.


zan said...

There's something in the air. I was recently thinking about how much better I could have been to my mother too.

And I remember that party, and my first (and possibly only) taste of Peach Schnapps. One sip was all I had that night - your mom really didn't have to worry about me.

ronckytonk said...

so I abused my mom and scammed underage alcohol through someone in art class who worked at a grocery store so that you could drink PEACH SCHNAPPS? Beautiful.

zan said...

Don't worry: I think I might have had a sip of Baileys as well. I was a rebel like that. I'll wager money I made a wincing face, too.

Anonymous said...

oh god. that is all too painful...
seriously tho, kids are such assholes and we all owe our parents a huge apology... they really should have just sent us at 12, banned us until we were, like, 32, 33...
love always,
your smirkee aka b2

Butta C.U.P. said...

I just had this conversation with my assistant teacher about how much of a JACKASS I was to my mother and how many times I got punched in the mouth for it. The best...the time I was fighting with my mother about the whole gay thing and I screamed at her and said "it's all your fault, you know, you're the one who smoked during pregnancy!" After she punched me in the face, she started to cry. I felt like such an ass and had a busted lip for a week!

ronckytonk said...

well she shouldn't have smoked while you were in there. everyone knows that'll make you a 'mo.