Scenes from a suburban adolescence

Hello, friends. Yesterday, I read Amusingly Horrible Things Moms Have Said at The Hairpin. It’s fairly amusing; certainly not the best thing I’ve read on the internet, but it must have stirred something in my Brain Soup, because early this morning, I remembered two things I’ve not thought of in many, many years:

1. From age 14 to 18, every time I went to the corner store (only a couple of times a year, since I was raised to believe that Buying Things at Convenience Stories is Wrong Because Said Things are Overpriced and Probably Stale. Occasionally, I went to get cigarettes for my uncle – but let’s not mention that to my parents, okay?), the owner stared at me for several seconds too long, then asked if I wanted to meet his son.

Questions to self: Does he ask that of every teenaged girl who comes into the store? Does he realize he’s asked me this before? Many times? And if so, does he think his 5 years of persistence will eventually pay off?

Closure: Never. I went away to university, and then my parents moved house. I really should have just asked him all those questions, shouldn’t I?

2. One summer, I worked at a coffee shop. One day, my boss said to a regular, “Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Karla Homolka [a convicted serial killer]? I mean, you guys could be twins!” When I registered horror, my boss said, “What? What? It’s a compliment! She’s really hot!”

Questions to self: Why didn’t I quit my job? This was a sign of things to come, with that boss. Also, why didn’t I say to the customer, “I don’t think you look like a serial killer”?

Closure: The customer came back a couple of weeks later (I guess she was less appalled than I was? Or was really desperate for this indie coffee shop to thrive?), and I got a chance to tell her that she didn’t look like a serial killer, to me. Then I gave her a free drink. Also, the coffee shop folded a couple of months later. Literal closure!

Why am I bringing up all this now? As Victorian novelist Frances Trollope once said, “Of course I draw from life – but I always pulp my acquaintances before serving them up. You would never recognize a pig in a sausage.” One day, both these incidents will probably make it into my fiction. If you spot them then, you’ll know just where they came from.

What bizarre or uncomfortable teenaged memories are rattling around in your brains? Have you fictionalized them, yet?

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4 Responses to “Scenes from a suburban adolescence”

  1. Joanna says:

    My sister told me this story once about how she nearly brained our mother with a high-heeled boot. She’d just gotten out of bed, and had heard footsteps in the hall, as well as a voice. For some reason, it didn’t occur to her that our mother might not have left for work yet, and so she grabbed a boot that was lying near her bed (Every sixteen year old girl has a pair of boots like this at least ONCE in their lives. You know the pair-the ones with heels that should be filed with the National Guard as offensive weapons?) and crept out of the bedroom and into the hall.
    Our mother turned to see her daughter brandishing a highly dangerous item of footwear in her general direction. And my sister said,
    “Oh thank God, it’s you!”
    I MUST find a way to incorporate this into my writing because it is just too farcical to miss.

  2. Lulah says:

    haha :) sorry, completely irrelevant and im sure a total bore for you but.. any updates on the agency 4? very, VERY excited :) please dont keep us in suspense!

  3. Ying says:

    Hi Lulah! I’m still writing book 4, I’m afraid, so it’ll be a long while yet. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m working on it!

  4. Ying says:

    This is awesome, Joanna. I’m enjoying picturing your mother’s face!

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