I Read it for the Articles, I Swear!
Y’all. Mom found my Penthouse magazine while searching my office for paper!
I flew Mom up to New York City so she could attend my book launch party. Not just any book…my first book. A memoir, you know, about my whole life. And the publishing process took four years. Having a publication date is a monumental event –much like a wedding or a birth– and I couldn’t NOT have Mom here to celebrate. It’s her life, too. Plus, I had a fun idea for her and I to perform a little something at my party*. It would make the event even more special for her and my guests.
Mom arrived and we had a few days of tromping around New York City and rehearsing our surprise treat. I was also dragging her around Manhattan on not-so-fun errands in rainy weather with her achy knee and my split jeans. In the book, I divulged many things that Mom would probably prefer to keep in the closet with the other dusty skeletons. The time for her to accept that our laundry was about to be aired and for me to unleash my life to anonymous reviewers was drawing near.
Shit was getting real. Mad real.
To distract us and work on something that had zilch to do with book stuff, I suggested she and I work on our new Ancestry.com project. Her face said it all: “GREAT IDEA!”
She leapt up and said, “I’ll grab some paper.”
Quicker than a wink, she was at my office printer.
PRECISELY WHERE I’D HIDDEN MY PENTHOUSE! I thought that had been the perfect spot for it, but lo how wrong I was.
“Why did I have a Penthouse?” you ask.
For the articles, of course. Duh. Seriously! I swear! Well, one article in particular: a review for my book. It was a good review, too.
So, why hide it then? Well, I know my mom better than most people and I knew –could lay my life on it– that she would take offense to it. Not because of the vaginas, boobs, penises and balls, silly, but because of the very first line:
“Kambri Crews grew up dirt poor…”
Whether you agree or disagree with that sentence, makes no difference. Mom disagrees with it and vehemently so. It’s one of those things that really gets under her skin in a hot second. It’s a pride thing. The same way I fight tooth and nail over small injustices. Justice is my thing. Pride is hers. SO…anyway…
In the mere seconds it took her to fly off the couch into my office heading straight for the offending material, two choices flashed through my mind:
1) Let Mom think I had a girly magazine hidden in my office and was possibly a closeted lesbian; or
2) Show Mom the review and face the ensuing argument.
I can’t have Mom thinking I like looking at nekkid girls! EEEEEWWW! So, I swallowed my fear and said, “Oh, hey, my Penthouse…did you see the review?”
Instant relief swept across her face. I cringe and laugh out loud thinking of what must’ve gone through her mind in those brief moments.
As predicted, she was offended. We hashed it out: There are finite lines in a girly magazine; ya gotta have a strong lede. We were poor to some people and had it good compared to others…it depends on perspective. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
At the end of the day, I wrote a book. It got reviewed in a major magazine. It was lauded. Let’s celebrate! And, boy, did we ever! We raised our glasses and laughed and hugged and smiled till our faces hurt.
We’re done keeping secrets, she and I. If there’s anything writing a memoir taught me it is this: While it might hurt to bare the truth, secrets will make you sick. They will corrode your love and trust until all that’s left is a rusty heap of worthless scrap.
So, what did Mom think of the book? Don’t ask me, read her interview in Time Out New York!
*Here’s the fun idea I had for my book party. Enjoy!