I grew up in a small town in Maryland, the youngest of three kids and the last to do everything. I was a shy kid (says my mom) who hardly uttered a word beyond the popular dinner-table question, “Who’s got the butterstick?” Apparently, I was a fan of butter. This all changed when I got my hair cut the summer before first grade. (The thing about me not-talking changed, I mean. Not the thing about me loving butter–which, by the way, has continued well into adulthood.) Anyway, after that hair cut, I became what Mom called “girl-chatty.” I must tell you that I have my doubts about the factual accuracy of this story. (Moms sometimes tell lies. Didn’t you know?) But I do have a copy of my first grade report card where my teacher, Mrs. Keyser, bless her, wrote that I “talked too much.” Even so, I know for a fact that Mrs. Keyser wrote “talks too much” on EVERYBODY’S report card. Everybody except for Aimee Toothman, because she would never ever talk when she wasn’t supposed to. Also, she had hair that curled under her ears just right. We weren’t friends.
As a kid, I liked to make things up. You should hear the one about me playing stickball with the bloodhounds on my grandfather’s farm. In the cow pasture. Using cow patties for bases. In our Sunday clothes. I will say no more…
I still like to make things up. In fact, I could be making all of this up right now. I could. Maybe there really wasn’t any Aimee Toothman at all with perfect end-curling hair who knew how to keep from getting not-so-good things written on her report card. You’ll have to decide that for yourself. And while you’re thinking it over, here’s something else that may or may not be true: I was the kind of kid who worried a lot—about fires, snakes in the closet, down escalators, being left behind in the electronics department at Sears, and getting soap in my belly button. Weird, you say? Well, rest assured I am mostly over that now. Mostly.