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otherwise known as How I Got Myself Into This Weirdness.

Monkey and Typewriter

Here’s a crazy memory for you:

I am eight years old, sitting lotus-like on the toilet seat (closed — yes, you know you wondered) while my cousin perches on the bathroom counter, feet in the sink, the mirror making two of her bramble-haired, bright-eyed self. A neighbor, perfectly blond and blue-eyed and, bless her, even at seven more attracted to her reflection than to the game of the moment, sits on the edge of the bathtub.

We are trying to come up with a play. My parents got a video camera, and we want to be on TV. We will agree on a general plot and some linesΒ  and add-lib our way through, because surely that’s how it’s done.

A tiger in a zoo. No, Cinderella. You can be the ugly stepsister! I’ll be the fairy godmother. We could be Indians in the woods.

An hour passes before we are thrown, bickering and still scriptless, out of the bathroom by people who have more pressing uses for it than chamber theater. Cousin and neighbor find a mirror elsewhere, practice dancing for the lens: neighbor sashays, cousin is a heron. They become wicked witches, dogs, mean girls at school, and I scowl and dig out a notebook and write a first act, because it suddenly occurs to me that might be the best way to go about this.

–No, there’s no shiny moral to this story, sad to say.

Nobody liked my play but my mother, and they ended up doing a remake of Snow White while I skulked in the corner, writing about girls who talked too much and learning two lessons that would stand me in good stead later in life: 1) an audience is never a given, and 2) narrative voiceovers just aren’t meant for theater productions.

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