My story. (More or less) | AspenTimes.com

My story. (More or less)

Meredith C. Carroll

Aspen, CO ColoradoOther than to try and get home without slipping on the ice in my driveway on New Year’s Eve, I made no resolutions for 2007 prior to the ball dropping Sunday night. But now, 144 hours into the new year, I’ve decided my goal before ringing in 2008 is to pen a memoir.While I don’t actually think the details of my life, thus far, will possibly be of much interest to anyone other than my mom and my future grandchildren (and only then if they can get beyond what I assume will be the incessant clicking of my dentures and my penchant for insisting everyone eat supper at 4:30 in the afternoon), I figure I’ll simply replace the boring bits with exciting stuff as necessary. Hey, why not? It kind of seems like everyone else is doing it.I recently finished reading the memoir, “The Glass Castle,” by Jeannette Walls. Her story about being raised by a delusional, alcoholic father, an artistically stifled and disgruntled mother and regularly being dragged throughout her childhood in the middle of the night from homes infested with rats and cockroaches to ones without plumbing, heat and electricity was wholly engrossing.Many things from Walls’ book made an impression on me, not the least of which was her resolve to move beyond her standing in life as presented to her by her parents and her almost unfailing optimism, courageous spirit and determination to plow through impossibly ugly situations. But what impacted me most was her memory.I’m famous in my family for having the memory of an elephant. If I was awake and it happened, I remember it. I don’t even need to be pressed hard to recall the stuff that didn’t happen to me when I wasn’t even around or alive. One of my earliest memories is playing in the backyard with my sister when I was 4 and she was 6. I dropped the f-bomb and she ran inside to tattle to my dad. I raced up to my room, slammed the door and hid under my desk. He stormed into the room and scolded me for my potty mouth.Still, hats off to the 46-year-old Walls, who not only remembers story after story (288 paperback pages worth) from the time she was a toddler through her 30s, but the broadest and most minute details of each one. She writes about being 3 years old and treated for a burn in the hospital and seeing her brother’s grimy hand out of the corner of her eye as he chewed on ice. She notes the particulars of the nurse’s hair and make-up. She recalls staring “for a while at the rows of tiny dots in the ceiling panels.” She remembers clothespins in her neighbor’s mouth falling on the dirt and hot dogs swelling and bobbing “in the boiling water as the late-morning sun filtered in through the trailer’s small kitchenette window.” When she was 3.Try as I might, wild horses couldn’t get me to remember what time of year it was when I uttered that four-letter word, never mind the time of day. I haven’t a clue if my dad was really mad or simply amused and if I was punished for my verbal indiscretion. I do remember peaking out at the little white rocking chair in my room while I was under the desk, but that’s about it.When asked during an interview last year on abcnews.com if she embellished her memoir, Walls said she hoped not, but conceded the possibility that people interpret facts differently.And, that’s what I’m banking on. I’ve had tons of stuff happen to me that is just shy of potential best-selling material. However, a little creative memory interpretation will remedy that in a jiffy.Like my first season working at Saturday Night Live when Aerosmith was the musical guest and Steven Tyler asked me 30 minutes after we met if I would quit my job on the show and travel with the band on their two-year world tour as his personal assistant.I mulled it over for a few days, spoke with the band’s manager, publicist and Steven’s (now ex-) wife. And then I turned him down. I loved my apartment in New York, my job at SNL and decided being anyone’s lackey would add little value to my resume. Plus, I would have missed my sister’s wedding since on that day I would have been traveling between tour stops in France and Switzerland.But let’s face it – no one’s paying $25 for that story in hardcover. However, change my “no” to a “yes,” throw in some juicy hotel-trashing, sex and drug-fueled late nights and viola – picture me on Oprah’s couch chatting away on her next book club show.Pretend I was six blocks, not 66 blocks from the Twin Towers on 9/11. Say the police had arrested me in 11th grade instead giving me a slap on the wrist for hitting the high school librarian’s car and driving away. Switch around that I starred in “Annie” at Central School in Larchmont, N.Y., in 1984 to starring in “Annie” on Broadway in New York, N.Y., in 1977, and my memoir is starting to have some real New York Times book review promise.In bookstores now is a memoir from National Book Award-winning novelist Robert Stone. He writes about his life in the ’60s, including experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs with friends like Ken Kesey. How does that old saying go? If you can remember the ’60s, you weren’t really there.Hence, my resolution for 2007: Never let the truth or a forgotten memory get in the way of a good story. Somewhere, somehow, I think James Frey might agree.E-mail questions or comments to meredithccarroll@hotmail.com.

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