The first comment friends and family make when they discover that I’m working on a second (or third) memoir, is “Oh, that’s great” – followed almost immediately by the question:
“Am I in this one?”
When I mention that they say this almost immediately, I mean literally in the same breath.
“OH THAT’S GREAT AM I IN THIS ONE?”
No comma, no pause.
Really, why bother indicating interest in my artistic goals? Why bother congratulating me on my work ethic, or my desire to tell the tales of a life poorly lived? Clearly, this question demands an immediate answer, one that cannot wait for such trivial, seconds-burning matters as a compliment or expression of support.
Some seem excited at the prospect of becoming (well, in their eyes) a literary icon. Finally, they’ll have earned that largely undeserved 15 minutes. These are the ones who assume that Chris Hemsworth or Jennifer Lawrence would be the obvious choices to play them in the movie version.
Others gasp slightly or take on a somewhat menacing demeanor, likely fearful that I’m about to portray them as a troll who lives under a bridge. Veiled threats are made: “Did your dad ever find out about that loan you took out in his name?”
The people I’ve known the longest are generally the ones most concerned, since I’ve had a lot of time to accumulate dirt on them. People you’ve known since you were a teenager or young adult are the ones with whom you tended to do the most memorable stupidest things – like getting bad perms and wearing parachute pants, pounding long island iced teas and then falling out of a taxi, having sex with a stranger in a deli, or snorting coke and throwing up in a dumpster.
I didn’t do any of those things, of course. Okay, I didn’t do all of those things. But my friends did. And now, they’re a little nervous.
You see, this new memoir begins when I’m 16 – just the age when you start making really bad decisions. And my third memoir, which I’m working on now – covers my later 20’s and 30’s in Los Angeles, a time when most people grow up, but we, fortunately, did not. (Clean living does not make for a good story.)
I once asked my friend Kurt – when we were in our 20’s and going out in trashy overalls to a bar in West Hollywood, “When are we too old for this?” and he replied, “30. Definitely 30.”
(A fashion WTF.)
Then, when we were in our early 30’s and going to a party at a gay bar in New Orleans in our underwear, I asked again. “When are we too old for this?” And he replied, “40. Definitely 40.”
I used to have an agreement with my older cousin that if either of us was walking through West Hollywood wearing Spandex when we were 50 years old, the other was allowed to drive by and shoot him. Luckily for him (?), he passed away of cancer at 49.
Most likely, by the time the third memoir is out, everyone will calm down, because most of the stupid mistakes and unfortunate life choices will have been made and exposed. And then they can get back to asking the really important question:
“Are you making money off me?”