My Life

Twice-Baked Clams and the Dreams That We Are Made Of

After a wee bit of peer pressure and what may or may not be perceived as a threat of legal action, I am now responding in kind to the questions I threw into the universe during the last Clam Bake here at Bonnywood. (Click here if you would like to see how some folks answered. Click here if you don’t know what the hell a Clam Bake is, at least when it comes to Bonnywood.)

Here we go…

1. Do you happily eat the licorice jellybeans, or do you hurl them aside in wretched disgust?

Bit of background about this question: In the initial asking, I had typed “black jellybeans” instead of “licorice jellybeans”. Then I thought, hold up, somebody is going to take that as racist even though it’s not intended. So, I edited, but not well, obscuring the exact type of licorice I meant. (After all, a red licorice jellybean has a different panache than a black licorice jellybean. This has been carefully analyzed and vetted at various symposiums of jellybean enthusiasts.) Granted, most people would assume by “licorice” that I meant “black licorice”, but still, I was inept with my journalistic skills and my entire questionnaire was basically jacked with the very first entry.

Note: The above rambling paragraph is being presented as an example of how my mind works. This is why I never get to sleep before 4am.

Additional Note: During my youth, my Granny used to make anise cookies. For those of you unfamiliar with such, anise is technically an herb that has a licorice bouquet (the black kind, not the red). Anise has a pronunciation similar to anus, albeit slightly different. Naturally, because we were crude little urchins, we called them “butt cookies”. Granny was not amused. But she still made them and we still ate them.

Final answer: I would not toss aside the licorice jellybeans. Some of my best friends are licorice jellybean lovers.


2. If you had to choose a vegetable for the title of your autobiography, which one would it be?

Me: “Kumquat.”

Audience member: “But that’s a fruit.”

Me: “If you had read all my blog posts, you would know why I chose that answer.”

Audience member: “But that’s not fair. I just joined recently and you have thousands of posts.”

Me: “Have you ever dipped into the archives and sampled the inventory?”

Audience member: “Who has time for that?”

Me: “Kumquats do. Which you would know if you had read the blog post.”

Audience member: “So you’re really not answering this question correctly.”

Me: “And what’s the tagline for this blog?”

Audience member: “Peace. Tranquility. Insanity.”

Me: “Exactly. Next question?”


3. Whilst reading the last few pages of an engrossing novel where you still don’t know the answer to “the big question”, are you able to calmly do so, or do you have to fight to keep your eyes from flitting to the final paragraph prematurely?

I used to have complete control and could contain myself as I negotiated a book’s final words. But as I get older, it becomes a bit harder to do. I blame this on the information overload of modern society where no has time to fully read anything. Sad, really.


4. Can you remember the name of the first book you read that didn’t have any illustrations?

This one is a bit of a cheat, as I have no idea, personally. I was constantly reading as a child, every day, all the time. There were so many volumes in my tiny, inquisitive hands that it’s all a wonderful blur of imagination and hope.


5. What literary character best represents the dreams that you are made of?

Another cheat, but more so with the answer this time. There are so many characters I could choose from, but the one constant with almost all the books I read (at least when I’m holding an actual book) is the standard author photo on the back cover. There’s a blog post on this somewhere, but that’s the character that I wanted to be, the person who created the story.


6. What was your favorite piece of clothing (or accessory) that you wore in high school? Did you steal said item?

In my case, it’s an accessory. During the ninth grade, I went on one of those “Study abroad for two weeks!” trips to Europe that some schools offered students. (I begged my parents until they relented, even though money was scarce.) During the Paris segment of said trip, I bought a keychain that had the Eiffel Tower as a dangly bit. Once home, on a daily basis, I would arrange said keychain so that the tower would dangle outside of my pants pocket. I thought I was being cool and artsy.

One of my classmates, in French class, no less, did not appreciate my posturing. One day, in a frenzy of unrequited anarchy, she reached over and yanked on the tower, severing it from the keychain proper. Then she threw it on the floor. I turned to her and asked “Daddy, is that you?”


7. Do you know where your last high school yearbook is right at this moment?

I refused to accept my senior class yearbook. Reasons why are in another blog post, and this time I’ll actually help you find it here.


8. Let’s assume that you have done something that you shouldn’t have. No one knows you have done it and no one ever will unless you say something. If you don’t confess, your innocent best friend is sentenced to a year in prison but then wins the lottery on the day of release from said prison and becomes a millionaire. (Friend never learns of your duplicity.) If you do confess, you get ten years in prison and no lottery win. Your choice?

I would be sorely tempted to keep mum, but in the end I would not be able to live with it.


9. Do you have anything in your home that actually belongs to a former employer?

Yes, tons of stuff. When you work for the same company for thirty years and then retire, crap just accumulates, intended or not. Besides, they stole my health and almost my sanity. In the end, they got a much better deal than I did. (I’m talking about Verizon, by the way. Just to make things clear.)


10. Did you ever have to finally decide? (You knew I would throw in a song reference at some point.)

I’ve never finally decided anything. I prefer to consider all of my actions as test runs, subject to withdrawal and renegotiation at any time. This is the result of never trusting anyone from the age of three.


11. Name the first song that comes to mind where you know every single word of the lyrics.

“Your Song” by Elton John/Bernie Taupin. This song spoke to me as a wee bairn running about on the dusty, gravel roads of Wagoner County, Oklahoma (and not trusting anyone). It still speaks to me so many decades later. My gift is my song, and this one’s for you…


12. Can you remember the name of everyone who has ever seen you naked as an adult? We’ll toss aside professional/medical experiences, as we’ve all had to throw our legs wide in clinical situations, but this one becomes harder to answer in the affirmative the more you think about it.

I was a bit of a tramp during college. And the decade after that. So, no.


13. Through some bit of circumstance, you suddenly find yourself on a nude beach. Which of the following would be your reaction: A) Run screaming in abject horror. B) Hang around a bit to see what’s what whilst remaining chastely covered. C) When in Rome… D) Wave to all of your friends because everybody knows your name.

Many variable responses come to mind, but I’ll leave it at this: There are much more important things to worry about than fretting over a random penis or a bouncing boob under the summer sun…


14. Given the magical chance to start your life over at a certain point, would you rather go back to your high-school graduation, knowing everything that you know now, or go back ten years, knowing only what you knew then?

I would go back to high school in a heartbeat. I was too nice for too long, trying to prove my worth to people not worth the proving, and nothing was gained. I’d like to rectify that a little bit, now that I’ve finally learned it wasn’t me, it was you…


15. You discover that a life-changing sum of money has been mysteriously deposited in your checking account. Upon speaking with a banking representative, you learn that the source wishes to remain anonymous and you will have to reimburse the donor if the name is ever revealed. Do you keep the money?

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.” (Name the play/movie for extra points.) Hell, yes, I’d keep it. I probably wouldn’t even make the phone call to the bank. (Okay, yes I would, but once I learned that it was really mine if I just kept my mouth shut, I’d be all over it.)


16. Would you rather watch admittedly crappy movies with your loved ones in a living room, where it is guaranteed that the miscreants will constantly interrupt the viewing, or peruse cinematic masterpieces by yourself with no interference?

I love my friends and most of my family, but when the lights dim, shut the hell up or go out for sushi.


17. Name the movie title that best encapsulates a poor decision in your life.

“Groundhog Day”


18. Would you rather write a single book that is hailed as a masterpiece long after you are gone or multiple critically-panned bestsellers whilst you are still on this plane?

Honestly, I want the legacy. Sure, I’d love to be on “Ellen”, promoting my latest book about something pointless whilst the audience screams and salivates. But have I mentioned the times I spent alone staring at author photos on back covers, many of them long deceased? Wondering what happened to them in their lives that allowed them to tell the stories I wanted to hear? That’s me. I want to be the faded photo. I can’t take it with me, but I can leave it behind…


19. Do you secretly write poetry that you have never shared?

Every. Day.


20. Do you regret things that you never dared?

Every day. I don’t let things go easily. I should, but I can’t.


21. Is there anyone who knows every single thing about you? Do you?

This is the final cheat in a long list of cheats. Of course no one fully knows me, and I don’t fully know myself. But I sit down every night, and I type the words, and I poke at the past with a trembling stick, and I dream of the future, and I hope that one day we all reach the point where we don’t have to understand, we just have to respect one another and enjoy the beach under the summer sun…




35 replies »

  1. Wonderful!
    ‘… I poke at the past with a trembling stick, and I dream of the future…’ is indeed what we writers do, day in day out. Thank you Brian for your unique way of poking (& I’m sure you’ve heard that before…) 🙂 x G

    Liked by 2 people

    • See, now I’ll be tossing and turning wondering what the differences might be. I mean, aside from that one thing…. and, oh yeah, that other thing… and the two things that… okay, I think I’ll just let it go…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 15. You discover that a life-changing sum of money has been mysteriously deposited in your checking account. Upon speaking with a banking representative, you learn that the source wishes to remain anonymous and you will have to reimburse the donor if the name is ever revealed. Do you keep the money?

    “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.” (Name the play/movie for extra points.) Hell, yes, I’d keep it. I probably wouldn’t even make the phone call to the bank. (Okay, yes I would, but once I learned that it was really mine if I just kept my mouth shut, I’d be all over it.)

    “Streetcar Named Desire”….Blanche Dubois (I hope I spelled that correctly) who was played by Tippi Hedren or some other woman whose actual name I’ve forgotten. I wanted to swat the stupid right out of Blanche actually…..clingy dweeb… Her sister was too patient. And I don’t have any sisters, so I never did get that whole mess..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Blanche is definitely far too overwrought for my tastes, but the humidity in New Orleans just does things to you…

      As for the actress who played Clingy Dweeb (at least in the movie), she was mentioned in the Clam Bake with the photo trivia, although she wasn’t in any of the photos…


  3. “Your Song” is such a good one.
    I couldn’t pick one because there are just so many. The thing is, if I am listening to them, I know all the words to sing along, but just reciting the lyrics to one without listening to them…well, not so much. haha!
    I did like your answer to # 5. Very interesting, as I don’t think I ever did that, but just wished I could write something as good as the book I was reading.
    #21 – Yes! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Now that I think about it, you’re right, I probably couldn’t just sit down and scribble out all of the lyrics. But as soon as I hear the opening chords of a fave song, the words come flooding back and half the time I don’t even realize I’m singing every word until somebody tells me to shut up and pass the salt.

      I really did use to stare at author photos and dream about other lives, and it’s one of the things I miss about “real” books now that I spend so much time on my Kindle.

      And yes, #21 really captures me sitting here at my laptop. And singing songs… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vivian Leigh did the movie version with Brando. Every actress I’ve known who played the part had emotional problems prior or during. IMHO, I think Williams knew his characters, didn’t make them up, or at least based them on the tragedy that was his sister. That kind of fragility is frightening.

    Never want to go back to HS unless it was the senior year in LA. What fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course, we also have Jessica Tandy, who originated the role on Broadway and won a Tony. And just now, as I googled a bit to determine the year (1947) I stumbled across this anecdote:

      Tallulah Bankhead portrayed the role in 1956. Bankhead, a close friend of Williams, had been the inspiration for the role, and he wanted her to star in it. However, she was initially uninterested and the producer thought she would overpower the character’s fragility. When she played the role in 1956, some critics agreed she was too strong in it, but Williams personally felt that she gave “a magnificent portrayal of the role”

      This is from Wikipedia, which is generally trustworthy (though not always) and there was an annotated footnote for the source. Very interesting, as I’m not sure Tallulah could pull it off, but I would have certainly paid to see the performance…

      Liked by 1 person

    • The brain is so amazing to hold all kinds of memories, like old song lyrics. You don’t know you have them stored away, until like you say, you hear the first notes of a song, and they all come back to you.
      I’ll bet someone, somewhere has read your author profile, and dreamed of the same thing you did back then.
      Wishing you a happy Friday and weekend (and sorry I took so long getting back to you)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jessica Tandy is sublime. Oddly, I admired her best in The Birds. She pulled off creepy, tough, cold and fragile at the same time. Hubby Hume was also terrific but he reminded me too much of the “theater guy” type. Sorry, loved working with them but never would have married one. I could be wrong about him. They had a long marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

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