The Stories We Tell

“I have a repertoire of stories involving me trying to run over ex-boyfriends with my car.”

When I entered graduate school in 2002, I knew that I wanted to write a memoir. Even though by age 40 I hadn’t accomplished much of anything, lots of crazy stuff had happened to me. I had a repertoire of stories that I fell back on to entertain new acquaintances, most of them involving drinking. There was a special category of stories involving me trying to run over ex-boyfriends and overly persistent suitors with my car. (They lived.)

The stories from my younger days are crazy and funny but probably should be viewed as cautionary tales of what not to do. The older I get, the more alarmed I am by how reckless I was. And yet, even at my most self-destructive, none of the problems I created for myself held a candle to what was in store for me when I finally became a responsible adult:

  • mental illness
  • job loss
  • foreclosure
  • bankruptcy
  • divorce
  • cancer

I tell those stories too, but much less often and with very little relish. They’re not much fun to tell and typically, the person I’m telling them to has just experienced something awful.

These days, I don’t really have any funny stories from my personal life. I’m old and tired and boring, so I’ve had to turn to fiction to entertain people. But that’s okay. In the end, everyone still loves a good story, whether it’s true or not.