I always wonder about memoirs. Biographies. How do you tell the truth? I like to tell little tiny tales about my family, but if I expand at all, there are too many contradictions.
My father, for example:
He cried when Hubert Humphrey was defeated but loved Ronald Reagan.
He insisted we go to church but also insisted we leave before the bellyaching about God began.
He worried about propriety --what others might think if only they knew -- but liked to burp, fart, and insult people to their faces. He always took his amazing farting dog to business meetings. He made a habit of accusing his associates of stinking the room up so much, he had to leave.
He also liked to dicuss his theory that Jesus was gay.
He was worried that my brother wasn't manly enough, while he, himself, loved picking out lipstick colors, dresses, necklaces, and all kinds of items my mother and sisters had no interest in. All you need is a touch of red lipstick, he'd tell me.
He was excellent at science, math, and logic, but he practiced every superstition known or unknown to man.
He thought it was unladylike to compete, discouraged his daughters from any kind of competition, and bragged outrageously when any of us won anything, even a sack race.
He blew up when any of his kids misbehaved but liked to brag about everything we did wrong. I heard him say once at a cocktail party: My son had a stellar marijuana crop this year. My one daughter was suspended for kidnapping the ice cream from the high school dining hall, and another one went grocery shopping in her underwear.
He was, I think, reasonably happy with his life, but he was just as happy to die. As he put it, I've been here way past my expiration date. It's good to be going now.
AWP in Minneapolis, and recommended reading
2 weeks ago