Gold Pants

$T2eC16JHJF0FFZeUkjIOBRZTDiVNIw~~_32When I was a teenager, I never read the classics my teachers assigned.  Not “Romeo and Juliet” or The Outsiders” or “The Great Gatsby” or “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or “Ordinary People.”  I was too entranced with Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon and VC Andrews, and too busy smoking pot on the way to school, to crack “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  And I hated being told to read the right books.

I didn’t listen to the right music, either.  I might have been getting high in the parking lot before Home Room, but I was not one of the edgy, mouthy kids, and I was way too scared to try real drugs or skip school.  A boyfriend who played in a band used to call me “Miss Pop Music” with my cassette tapes of The Cars and Madonna and Earth, Wind, and Fire.  Still today, I can’t name a single song, a single lyric, by Lucinda Williams or Violent Femmes or Liz Phair.  (I just googled Liz to make sure I could spell her last name.)

I wonder if I’m cool enough to be a writer.  If I’m dark enough.  If I’m too comfortable or too happy.  If I spend too much time following sports or with my dogs instead of logging silent, alone-hours in the back corner of our indy coffee shop.  If I should be letting my hair go gray or striping it with blue.  Do I need to go Vegan or drink Oolong.  Should I be wearing someone else’s broken-in boots.  What if I’m still not reading the right books or listening to the right music.  I’m still blasting EW&F  in my car, after all, with my dogs riding in the back, on the way to plunk down twenty bucks for the latest Elizabeth Strout novel.

How about that Philip Bailey in his shiny gold pants.

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17 thoughts on “Gold Pants

  1. Kate

    I think you just need to be YOU!
    And … If you weren’t using real drugs… What were you using to get high?

  2. jpon

    “I wonder if I’m cool enough to be a writer.”

    As I become more experienced in this business, I find that the opposite is the truth. There are those who are simply too cool to be a writer.

  3. Lyra

    I got The Burgess Boys for my birthday and am reading it now. It is wonderful, like The Goldfinch, The Interestings wonderful.
    You know, when I was at Chicago AWP and walked through the spinning doors to run into Marilynne Robinson she had a shawl around her shoulders and a gray bob. We both were startled by me, but then I realized who it was and GAH! totally starstruck.
    Many young hip writers were in that lobby, on their Ipads and Iphones, some looking through their hipster glasses at the crowd while they wrote in leatherbound notebooks. Maybe some of them noticed her, but it didn’t seem so to me.
    Now, that isn’t to say that we all have the same opinions of writer royalty, but I was dumbfounded that no one was staring at her, pointing, saying things like, DO YOU BELIEVE WHO THAT IS??
    So, she quietly walked by me and smiled at my recognition of her. Then tipped her head while I grinned like I just saw a rockstar.
    Because I did.
    All of this is to say, you are more than fucking cool enough to be a writer. It seems to me the real writers for the most part, don’t look anything like the hype would have it.
    (Except Donna Tartt whose suit alone, GAH, and those black patent leather oxfords, wow. She’s in her own world of cool, but it takes more money then I will most likely ever have to dress that cool…)

    1. Teri Post author

      But even Donna Tartt looks like a brooder in her sweet suit, someone sitting quietly in a darker corner, contemplating the absurd. Me, I’m most at ease when running up to almost-strangers and throwing my happy arms around them … probably scaring the be-jezus out of them.

  4. independentclause

    Jane Hamilton wears her hair in a long braid—no makeup that I could see—and she once sat in on my Jane Austen class in college, and I love her. There she was. Sitting in the old English department building as if she were just anyone else.

  5. Josey

    it’s not about cool. only how good you write, and you write damn good.

    i do sometimes imagine what it would be like, finally making it. who would you mingle with? who would be intimidating? who are the complete asses? i see myself constantly lingering steps away from and nick flynn and never even getting invited to whichever room franzen is occupying.

    1. Teri Post author

      I probably should have said “edgy” or “reclusive” or some other word than “cool,” you know what I mean, because I’m sure I’d break out in real live hives if I had a real conversation of any kind with Nick Flynn. When I saw him last year, I sat in the row behind him (of course I did) and before he sat down we made eye contact and he kind of nodded at me. I don’t think I heard anything anyone said for the next half hour. His hair was so …. scruffy — this, I remember.

      (she said, recalling Cheryl Strayed signing her book, wherein she said the word “fucker” a few times (why??????) and could not remember Suzy’s name)

  6. Catherine

    I’m getting tired of ‘edgy’ so forget that. Who wants to fit into the mold? Thanks for the video. I am a deep fan of Earth Wind and Fire – so deep that all my kids know September.
    Gold pants!! I’m with you, what dudes! Gawd I love the 70s – all that joy and those tight trousers!

  7. Averil Dean

    Pfft. First of all, you’re one of the coolest chicks I have ever met. Funny, warm, genuine, and mouthy as you wanna be. Having a good heart and a good life does not diminish the cool factor.

    And anyway, you’re a badass writer. You’ve got plenty to say and all the tools to say it well. What writer needs more than that?

  8. Suzy Vitello

    Oh honey, I was less cool and less nerdy than anyone. I listened to The Eagles and Barry Fucking Manilow. And Billy Joel. I craved normalcy. I wanted to eat Twinkies and learn how to walk in pumps and carry a clutch purse, but, alas, my parents were confused people. They’d have these drunken parties replete with weed and people screwing each other in the bathroom, and then trot us off to church the next day. Once, I awoke to find a long list on the coffee table of different ways to say “fuck.” Next to that was a ledger where my father penciled in the estimated salaries of all his peers.

    My own teenage bookish crazes were Jeffrey Archer and Sue Kaufman. “Diary of a Mad Housewife” spoke to me. Profoundly.

  9. joplingirl

    I’ve always had my nose pressd to the glass looking in at cool. Observing. Curious about everyone who is not me. And that’s what I read for—other worlds similar but decidedly not my own. From brave souls willing to let me in.

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