Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

By Tracy Kiely

What is the worst thing I ever wrote?

How much time do you have?

That much?  Goodie. Let me back up a little and give you some history.
When I was little, I had very specific ideas as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. 
And no, being a writer was not my first choice.
I wanted to be a tap dancer.
My parents watched a lot of Gene Kelly movies.  A lot. In the privacy of my bedroom, I would try to recreate scenes from Singing in the Rain.  Not the ones with Debbie Reynolds, the ones that Gene danced.

Seriously, look how high that man could jump. 
A few years later, I discovered The Beach Boys. Specifically, I discovered Dennis Wilson. The drummer. My nine-year-old heart fell hard. I loved him. I loved everything about him. He surfed. He sang. He was soooo cute. He had really cool hair. (Side note: In those days, fan magazines like TigerBeat left out distressing details such as crushing substance abusive issues and rampant womanizing.) Anyway, as a treat my parents took me to one of their concerts. I think it was the Brian is Back! Tour of 1977 because Brian ran out on stage at one point, jumped over a couple of amps, and the crowd roared with approval. Anyway, halfway through the concert Dennis came out and sang a solo – something about being a ladies’ man – I really couldn’t tell you because I was trying to get him to notice me. Yes, the gawky kid with a million freckles and even more cow licks, who was not only sitting on the upper level but on the upper level with her parents was desperately trying to will Dennis Wilson to see me and …Wave? Smile? Blow a kiss? I have no idea. People, I was nine. Cut me a break.
You gotta admit it. Cute.
 I suppose it’s not too big of a spoiler alert to mention that he did none of the above. But, a new goal was realized that night (besides not trying to attract the attention of cute boys while sitting with my parents).
No, I was going to become a drummer.
Now, it was also around this time that my very proper grandmother took my father aside and informed him that it was imperative that I learn the social graces expected of a proper young lady. In fact, this skill was so important to my future success that she offered to fund these classes. Over dinner one night, she generously explained all of this to me. All I had to do was decide what skills I would be pursuing. As my grandmother gave me a smile of encouragement, I gleefully and without hesitation, announced that I wanted to learn to play the drums and take dance.
“Ballet?” my grandmother whispered hopefully.
“Tap,” I answered.
Now might be a good time to mention that we lived in a small house.
My mother pursed her lips together. The muscle in my father’s jaw bunched.
My grandmother made a small “O” with her mouth.
I think it stayed there for several minutes.
Nothing more was ever said about drums or tap.
However, writing starting being a big topic around the house. “You have such a way with words, Tracy,” my mother would say. “I bet you’d make a good writer.” “Someone who writes well will always be in demand,” advised my father.
Oddly, we didn’t see a whole lot of my grandmother that month.
So, anyway, the idea of writing began to take hold. In school, we started a unit on poetry. At the end of it, we were instructed to create our own poem. This poem would be displayed in the class and then sent home with us – no doubt so that our parents could frame it.
I worked on that poem like nobody’s business. And you know what? I began to think my parents were right because this poem kicked ass. 
This poem would not only get an A and get framed, but would probably be entered into some national contest and perhaps then it would catch the attention of The Beach Boys, specifically Dennis, who would search me out as a lyricist.
The final poem? Well, you decide.

The Rain 
The rain falls down upon the ground.
Will it ever stop?
I’ll get the mop.

And in case you’re wondering, Dennis Wilson did not call to invite me to co-write some songs. However, my grandmother – the other one who liked to sing songs with filthy lyrics – loved it. She even framed it.
I’ve gone on to write much more crap, and no doubt will write even more, but that’s the one that stands out the most. I guess like the St. Pauli Girl ad claims, you always remember your first.


Alan Orloff said...

Ha! Nothing to say you can't take up tapping now. Or drumming, for that matter...

Catriona McPherson said...

Oh, Tracy - you made me splurt coffee. I was ready for soul-searching, heart-rending angst.

Susan C Shea said...

I remember my own secret belief that if Elvis Presley just happened to look in my direction - were we ever to be in the same physical space, which we weren't - our eyes would meet and he'd pull me out of the crowd, realizing he had met the one 10 year old woman who could make him happy. fun post!

Art Taylor said...

Hilarious! Loved it!

Meredith Cole said...

Too funny! Love that she framed it. I remember reading Tiger Beat (which, I found out through my nieces, is actually still around and full of teenage heart throbs...)

Kathy Reel said...

So funny! I saw where Catriona had mentioned this post on FB, and I had to come read it. So glad I did. I think most young girls have been in that position of the huge celebrity crush and imagined discovery by said crush. Although I didn't attend a concert for the Beatles, I just knew that Paul would somehow find me. I didn't consider the issues with him dating a child.

Terry Shames said...

Hilarious! You want crazy? At one point I thought that my heartthrob was going to see me watching TV and notice me....the problem is, the guy was on TV! The idea was he was going to look out of the TV and....oh, never mind.

BTW, nothing wrong with that poem. It's a haiku, sort of.

Unknown said...

Great article! I actually think the "Rain" poem packs a certain punch. And you should definitely consider taking up drumming and tap dancing now. ;-)