Imprints 4: Childhood
1. I make him promise me that morning while he brushes my hair that he won’t tell me anything when he comes to take me out of school to go to the hospital. I don’t want to know what he already knows until the moment I can learn for myself. When he sticks his head into my classroom and smiles, not saying a word, my heart flips, and I feel very solemn and important while the teacher helps me put on my coat and all the other kids watch silently, knowing where I’m going. Once we close the classroom door and are alone in the empty hallway, I let my father pick me up and carry me, something I do not normally allow him do in public, but on this day, it seems okay. As we walk underneath the school clock, I am so high up I can reach my hand out and touch the bottom of it. When we get to the hospital, though, I walk by myself up to the window, and I spot the blue sticker on his bassinet before the nurse has even wheeled him in.
2. I am not allowed to ride in the back of our neighbors’ jeep when they have the top off, even with a seatbelt, but they take it off once we get there and I am only eight and have no other way of getting home. We stop by another family’s house on the way home for the parents to visit, so my neighbor friend and I play with their son in his room until he asks us if we wanted to go swimming. I say I’m not wearing my suit, but the boys just jump right in with their clothes on, so I do too. The other boy is just a few years older than me, but he seems like he’s from another world. We swim until after dark, without the parents watching or even the pool lights on, and when it’s time to go home, I ride in the back of the jeep, the wind whipping my chlorinated hair and clothes dry. For the first time in my life, I do not tell my mother. Years later, this boy with the pool is a popular rich kid in my freshman Latin class. I recognize him from that night from my childhood a few days into the school year, but I don’t know if he remembers me. I never ask him.
3. We are in a rich suburb of Chicago, visiting my grandfather and stepgrandmother. I am their only grandchild, but aside from buying me fancy clothes, they are more interested in playing tennis and drinking gin and inviting their friends over for parties. There is nothing in the house for a child to play with but a set of bongo drums, and those are soon declared off limits. My stepgrandmother wears Cleopatra wigs and fur coats and refills my grandfather’s glass when he wordlessly shakes the ice. My grandfather lets me blow out the matches he uses to light his pipe, and introduces my father by the wrong name more than once. My mother is tense and I am tired of having to go to bed hours before everyone else, hearing them all laughing through the wall. One afternoon, my parents take me to a sunny park near the house, just us, and we’re all three running and climbing and shrieking and laughing when the Lincoln Town Car pulls up, the window rolls down, and my stepgrandmother sticks her head out and asks if we’re going to be back in time to wash up before the party. All three of us are very still, mute and interrupted, and for a minute I think we might not have to go back.
Tell the one about
Last night my friend Josh was telling me a story on the train about his college roommate, The Gift. He’d told me about The Gift before, and I really like hearing about The Gift, but I couldn’t remember some details, so I kept interrupting and saying, “Wait, didn’t The Gift _______? Tell me that part again,” like a little kid directing a bedtime story. Which got me thinking about all of my favorite stories from my friends, the ones I make them tell over and over again, while we’re at the bar or about to go to sleep, or to people I’ve just introduced them to, which I’m sure is uncomfortable for everyone but still entertaining for me. I started making a shorthand story list of my favorite friend stories in the little notebook I carry in my bag, but decided to put it here too, just to tease you. Remind me to make them tell you any of these. Especially if you’ve just met.
Roy – STIIIINNNNNGGGG! I sent you an eeeeeeeee-maaail!
Anne – Kanye West, Tom Cruise, all the Secret deodorants
Ryan – the slushee and Master Kang’s Lexus
Joey – Elvis Cow and gold-face Indian
Stephen – $5 Polaroids with boa constrictors at the elementary school
Emily – shakey-shakey fings
Tony – “Somebody call the cops.”
Megan – Kim and Thurston answering machine
Albee – the Jock Jams and Super Soakers sunset cruise
Caroline – uncle’s cat with feline AIDS serving as bridesmaid
Laura R. – sister’s diarrhea on the 25 cent horse in front of K-Mart
Brian – Michael Ruffin’s ferret
Josh P. – Blue Oyster Cult, put your dad on the phone
If I know you and you aren’t on this list, you need to tell me a good story.
Aubergine, Rocket & Chav on Rye
My friend Heather interviewed me about my recent trips for her On the Road site.
I’m kind of embarrassed to even be included in this cool series because I'm pretty green when it comes to serious travel. I was embarrassed I hadn’t left the country before the end of my twenties; now I’m embarrassed I’ve only been to London and Paris. I mean, I bet you’ve been to Sumatra (which, for the record, I still could not immediately locate on a map). But baby steps, right? I’m hardly a seasoned world traveler, but I have aspirations. And a love for slang. So far that’s done me all right.
Five months, two days
I’m starting to get excited about the book. It comes out June 17, and last week I met with my editor to go over the first pass page by page. This was the first time I’d seen the entire manuscript typeset in the design, and it looks fantastic. There are some really funny people in this book. Also, I really like my editor. She put on some Morrissey and The Cure while we went over it, just to set the mood.
The other good news is the troll sticker is gone from the cover. You probably didn’t know about the troll sticker because it was not something I could talk about. It’s still on Amazon, and probably will be forever for all I know, but all that matters is that it’s not on the cover and I can stop having panic attacks thinking about it. The troll sticker came out of nowhere, and I had some very strong feelings about it, feelings that could only be expressed after I breathed deeply several times and maybe had a drink. I didn’t even want to show people that it was on Amazon because I knew they’d say, “Whoa, what’s with the fucking troll?” and I’d say, “I know, it’s wrong, it skews too young and cuts out the guys and also the only people who were really into troll dolls were weird girls whose houses smelled funny.” And then I’d have to have a breakdown or change the subject. So basically like every other conversation I have, but still.
Anyway, it all worked out and the new cover is awesome and exactly what I’d pictured from the beginning. And now I can focus on what I should have the first time I saw this: holy shit, I am on Amazon. You can search my name on Amazon! And you will see other Sarah Brown authors, Sarah Browns who are experts on vegetables and stained glass and sex offenders and magic. God but I wish we could have a party, these other Sarah Browns and me. You know that magic Sarah Brown has some good weed.
Two more things
1) I have a Tumblr. I am not entirely sure why. I am not even sure if that's how you say it. I have a Tumblr blog? I have a Tumblr? Grandma is tired.
2) Did you know I have an RSS feed? I didn’t! But I do, just for you. I will make a permanent link for it soon. And also completely redesign this site. Someday. Just in case anyone’s losing any sleep over that one.
1. It's a little after the fact, but there is no Cringe tonight, or at all in January. After the back-to-back Cringes in two countries in December, I’m taking the month off. But it’ll be back February 6 with a great show.
2. Like a mighty phoenix or clever zombie or Jesus Christ, The Plug returns for 2008! Woo hoo!