11 April 1995

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

I keep calling Teresa, and she’s not home. I’m at Mills. My first message went like this. “Baby! Where are you? Pick up the phone. Princess won a prize, but it turned out to be a tragedy. So, I’ll call you later.”

I won second prize in the Mills English Department writing contest, and guess who won first? Guess!

Root Vegetables! Remember her? (See March 21.) It’s so humiliating.

Mills is great the way people keep reappearing–it’s like a play. TICKLE came to our class last week.[1] Her multiple personality book is out and she’s going to be on Donahue, I shit you not, Max. She very crazy, but I don’t see the multiple personality part. She always seems just like TICKLE to me, and in the book, she sounds just like herself, and I’m convinced that the multiple-personality angle is all a hoax so that she can ride in the diamond lane. The book is Broken Child and her pen name is Marcia Cameron. So TICKLE–not her real name–asked us not to reveal her identity, presumably to any nosy reporters who come around.

Well, I hope TICKLE makes a million dollars. Remember last semester how she turned in that terrible thing and the class made her cry? God, that was awful. You do not give Constructive Criticism to the helpless and insane. You just don’t. So it’s satisfying that she’s going to be rich and her critics, including Princess, are languishing in the hell pits of that fucking class.

But back to Root Vegetables. I don’t know exactly why the whole thing depresses me so much, because her stories aren’t half bad, and sometimes they’re really wonderfully good. But I don’t want to be almost as good as not half bad. I want to be wonderfully good, and my novel isn’t wonderfully good. It just isn’t.

I’m going to call Teresa again.

I’m back. The way I put it to Teresa was, “If they have no taste, then why did they pick me for a prize? And if they do have taste, then I’m not as good as Root Vegetables.”

“Oh, Princess, no! Those people are all just crazy.”

“They are?”

“Whoever typed the names was probably dyslexic.”

“And the real winner was Voot Regetables.”

“I don’t know. Don’t worry about them.”

This went on for a while, and then I was getting her to tell me about phone sex.

“C’mon, how do you do it? Let’s have phone sex. Payphone sex.”

“I don’t want that with you.”

“C’mon, how do you do it? Do I say, ‘I am putting my hands inside my pants now’ or do I say ‘your pants’?”

“I don’t know. I don’t remember. But anyway, you have to be serious.”

“Oh, I’d be serious. I’d be so serious.”

“No you wouldn’t.”

“Well could you be serious?”

“No, because I would know that you would be laughing.”

“Oh. But otherwise, if it were someone else, you would?”

“I don’t know! Just come home.”

We said good-bye soon after that.  “Root Vegetables!” I whispered as we hung up.


[1] TICKLE was my loose acronym for The Kind To Illegal Immigrants Lady because the first story she turned in was about herself and her little children being kind to illegal immigrants. See my 1993 Diary for details. Available on Amazon! See link at top of this blog.  Ha!

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