How to Behave When an Old Friend Puts You in Their Memoir.
I was going to write about my uncomfortable experience of sitting in the Bowery Poetry Club listening to my childhood friend recount a story of my first kiss and emergent adolescent sexuality to a room full of strangers from her memoir. But somehow this story gets even more peculiar.
Through a very strange twist of fate, I just found out that my mother in–law is now taking a writing class where my friend will be a guest teacher. My friend, Maureen, was asked to read the part about our childhood. Of all of the writing teachers in New York City, my mother in- law has this one? Of all of the people from his classes to come in to read he has my old friend…and he wants her to read a section about my first kiss? Is this man a total sadist or is this just a joke of some sick muse?
How did this begin? A few months ago I got a note on Face book from a man I shall call Writing Instructor,
Maureen is taking my writing class. She did not know how to contact you. I looked you up on FaceBook. Maureen is reading a section about you from her work at the Bowery Poetry Club, would you like to join us? The class is very excited to meet you.”
'Of course!' I replied, and I will bring my whole family. That was before I saw what she had written. It is absolutely wonderful being reconnected and I am very flattered that I am important enough for her to have written a whole chapter about our friendship. Maureen’s story was very accurate. It recalled me as a very sensual being. The chapter deals with the strain of our friendship as I became sexually aware (boy crazy) and left our shared, more intellectual, pursuits behind. It had contained our playful summers in Maine with my family, our horrible neighborhood in Staten Island, nasty fights with my father, danger from neighborhood bullies and my first kiss.
Nothing was spared, not my perky breasts in new training bras and the fact that I was constantly eating. She recounted how I would try to fake out her chess opponents by slowly eating Big Macs to distract them at tournaments. Sex and food were the big themes. My husband said it was “hot”. My attorney friend and pen pal advised me to have her change my real name before it went any further.
Maureen said that I was considered a "heroine" with her writing group. Her class certainly greeted me as if they knew me very well when I showed up for the reading. By the end of the reading, I wanted to sneak out of the place. We may be artists with fewer boundaries than most, but I think even I was tested with this experience.
In fact, through this experience, Maureen and I have come to an understanding; she has changed my name, is making some tweaks and will read another chapter from her book for my mother-in-law.