Wanted: Woman to Show Up for My Readings Who Looks Like Me 30 Years Ago
Wanted: Woman who looks like me 30 years ago. Not for anything pervy. This isn’t some narcissistic fantasy to make out with my younger bitchier self, but that would be interesting. I need someone to show up and match my author photo.
The woman needs to go to my book readings, read aloud and answer audience questions. She is expected to sound down-to-earth and relatable like she went to a college, not University. She must be fluent in flirting with booksellers and dating writers. No actual sex required, only implied.
She must be funny, interrupt incessantly, and laugh too loud for men who like demure women. She must fall for people quickly and dismiss them easily, but only in terms of the audience. In her real life, she can be an asshole or a saint. That’s none of my business. At the job, be the job. Being 20 year old me is the job.
Why, you ask, can’t I just show up at my readings and admit my author photo is from 30 years ago? Maybe make a joke about it. Betcha didn’t recognize me from my book cover, eh? Betcha thought I was the mother dropping off my daughter the writer, eh?
I don’t want people to think I’m vain or insecure about aging. That’s not it. The reason I need a stand-in is that readers look at the author photo as they’re reading the memoir. I do. Don’t you?
Sometimes I’ll read a sex scene in a memoir and quickly flip to the author photo. It gives me a better idea of how the person might be in bed. I’m like ok, so that’s what Jane Doe looks like, which helps me imagine her naked, which helps me imagine her partner naked, which gives me a better idea about what that sex scene looks like, if it were in a movie. I feel closer to the story. I want to give my reader that.
Look. By the time I get my memoir written, I will not be young and sexy anymore. I may be older and sexy if I put in the effort, but I’m undecided. I think I’d rather walk around in fleeced wooden clogs and a poncho with a sign around my neck that says “Pardon my appearance.”
When readers are reading about my trysts and turmoils, I want them to imagine my 20-year-old self telling the story. If they think I’m young, they’ll think everyone in the book is my potential sexual partner, which gets the pages turned. They’ll be like “I wonder if that hot young thing is gonna do it with this guy or that gal. I think I’ll turn the page.”
Also, if they think I’m young and I say something clever, they’ll think, “Wowza, she was rather a sharp thing at such a young age.” A fifty-year-old woman saying something intelligent isn’t shocking enough. I’m doing it for my reader’s experience. I want them to enjoy the roller coaster of surprises.
So, you’re welcome. And if you look like I used to look, and you think you’re hilarious, you’re hired.