We've agreed to disagree on the wording. Shortly after that incident, we packed up and moved to the small, violently rural town of Wall, Texas. My parents claimed it was because my dad's enlistment had ended, and my mom found herself pregnant with my little sister and wanted to be closer to family, but I suspect it was because they realized there was something wrong with me and believed that growing up in the same small West Texas town that they'd grown up in might change me into a normal person.
This was one of many things that they were wrong about. Other things they were wrong about: the existence of the tooth fairy, the "timeless appeal" of fake wood paneling, the wisdom of leaving a three-year-old alone with a straw broom and a furnace. If you compared the Wall, Texas, of today with the Wall, Texas, of my childhood, you would hardly recognize it, because the Wall, Texas, of today has a gas station.
And if you think having a gas station is not that big of a deal, then you're probably the kind of person who grew up in a town that has a gas station, and that doesn't encourage students to drive to school in their tractors. Wall is basically a tiny town with There's a lot of dirt. And cotton.
Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)
And gin, but not the good kind. In Wall, when people refer to gin they're talking about the Cotton Gin, which is the only real business in the town and is like a factory that turns cotton into I honestly have no idea. Different cotton, maybe? I never actually bothered to learn, because I always figured that within days I would be escaping this tiny country town, and that's pretty much how my entire life went for the next twenty years. Our yearbook theme one year was simply "Where's Wall?
The original-- and more apt --theme had been "Where the fuck is Wall?
Those things on the back cover are cotton balls. No shit, y'all. When I was asked where Wall was, I would always answer with a vague "Oh, that direction," with a wave of my hand, and I quickly learned that if I didn't immediately change the subject to something to break their train of thought My personal standby: "Look! Sea monsters! Unfortunately, pointing out sea monsters was neither subtle nor believable mostly because we were completely landlocked , so instead I began compensating for Wall's beigey blandness by making up interesting but unverifiable stories about the small town.
Kevin Bacon is our national hero. It was the scene of one of the most gruesome cannibalistic slaughters in American history. We don't talk about it, though. I shouldn't even be mentioning it. Let's never speak of it again.
I pointed out that perhaps he'd been named that because he was the man who'd invented walls, and she sighed impatiently, pointing out that it would be hard to believe that a man had invented walls when most of them couldn't even be bothered to close the bathroom door while they're using it. She could tell that I was disappointed at the lack of anything remotely redeeming about our town, and conceded halfheartedly that perhaps the name came from a metaphoric wall, designed to keep something out. Progress was my guess.
My mother suggested it was more likely boll weevils. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have a childhood that was not like mine. I have no real frame of reference, but when I question strangers I've found that their childhood generally had much less blood in it, and also that strangers seem uncomfortable when you question them about their childhood. But really, what else are you going to talk about in line at the liquor store? Childhood trauma seems like the natural choice, since it's the reason why most of us are in line there to begin with.
I've found, though, that people are more likely to share their personal experiences if you go first, so that's why I always keep an eleven-point list of what went wrong in my childhood to share with them. Also I usually crack open a bottle of tequila to share with them, because alcohol makes me less nervous, and also because I'm from the South, and in Texas we offer drinks to strangers even when we're waiting in line at the liquor store.
In Texas we call that "southern hospitality. I'm not allowed to go back to that liquor store. There isn't actually a secret word. Because this is a book, y'all. Not a fucking spy movie. Author's note: My editor informs me that this doesn't count as a chapter, because nothing relevant happens in it. I explained that that's because this is really just an introduction to the next chapter and probably should be combined with the next chapter, but I separated it because I always find it's nice to have short chapters that you can finish quickly so you can feel better about yourself.
Plus, if your English teacher assigned you to read the first three chapters of this book you'll already be finished with the first two, and in another ten minutes you can go watch movies about sexy, glittery vampires, or whatever the hell you kids are into nowadays. Also, you should thank your English teacher for assigning you this book, because she sounds badass. You should probably give her a bottle from the back of your parents' liquor cabinet to thank her for having the balls to choose this book over The Red Badge of Courage. Something single-malt.
You're welcome, English teachers.
You totally owe me. Hang on. It just occurred to me that if English teachers assigned this book as required reading, that means that the school district just had to buy a ton of my books, so technically I owe you one, English teachers. Except that now that I think about it, my tax dollars paid for those books, so technically I'm kind of paying for people to read my own book, and now I don't know whether to be mad or not.
This footnote just turned into a goddamn word problem. You know what?
Fuck it. Just send me half of the malt liquor you get from your students and we'll call it even. Also, is this the longest footnote in the history of ever? Answer: Probably. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher. Place a Hold You must be logged in first.
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