While googling myself, I came upon something I never knew existed. Any audience is a good audience to an author, and this particular audience happened to be a Towson University professor with a Ph.D. Her title to her blog piece is more appropriate than she ever could have known. I have arrived…
Lacrosse and Bottle Caps: A Love Story by *Deb Shaller
A depressing trend in bottle caps, it turns out, is the 6-word memoir that frequently appears on the underside of Honest Tea’s cap. For the record, my own 6-word memoir is “It Wasn’t Funny at the Time,” and I stand by my decision to count “wasn’t” as a single word. Fortunately, though, no one has asked me for it, let alone agreed to print it for mass distribution, for while the 6-word memoir can be a little funny, mostly it’s not. And sometimes—more often than not lately—it’s just cloying.
I know I’m not being fair when I consider the two bottle caps that happen to occupy my desk at the moment. Under one, a Sioux prayer: “Teach us to walk the soft Earth as relatives to all that live.” Under the other, a 6-word memoir from Amy Hartl Sherman, “Loudest fan at son’s lacrosse game.”
I Google Sherman just to be sure I’m not about to pick on someone who works in the stock room at Honest Tea and has been coerced into writing this folly, and discover that, sure enough, Sherman Googles as “free lance writer” and “humorist.” So fair game, I’m thinking, as I consider all of the reasons that Sherman’s memoir is so disheartening. First of all, there’s lacrosse itself, a very active sport where I live, played on the glittering fields of every private school in the area, a not inconsequential number, by the way. And yes, I know that it’s making inroads into the more hoi poloi-ish arena of public school, but not, I suspect, in time for Sherman to holler about it. So lacrosse irks me, troubles my class sensibilities.
Which takes me to the hollering itself. “Loudest fan at. . . . “ In what world is this amusing? Not a fan of lacrosse, I can only imagine by way of another sport, baseball, say. Is the loudest person at a baseball game amusing to the fans around him/her? I think not. Frequently, he/she is also the drunkest and most boorish. But even if sober and civil, loud is just annoying. As a six-word memoir, it’s only pleasure is the gratitude it provokes for being so mercifully short.
Left to my own devices, I’d also tell you how really tiresome I find this kind of obsessive mom-ism, this defining of self and life through a relationship of fandom and side-line cheering. It feels like a twist on pre-feminist America and a winking brag about having the time, leisure, and money to hang around inconsequential events and get worked up about them. It does not feel like being the kind of relative that the earth needs, that the Sioux might pray for. But it would be churlish of me.
Instead, perhaps I’ll just imagine that the 6-word memoir, briefly entertaining, is now solidly played out, incapable of generating anything but further self-absorption, whittled down and disposable, the underside of commodities.
My 2014 response: I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to find this post. First, I had no idea my six-word-memoir was on a bottle cap, and second, you were moved enough to write about it.
Just so you know, I worked very hard to support and run the lacrosse club my son was in because there was no program at our public high school. Thanks to everyone’s years of commitment, it is now an official sport there.
It was written for an anthology and it was never intended to be humorous. It’s just a memoir of that brief period in my life. And yes, I was probably very obnoxious, but incredibly proud of my son’s accomplishments. If that’s distasteful to you, I can only figure you have no children. No biggie.
Thank you for making me feel proud of the fact that my six words touched you as much as they did. Any reaction is a welcome surprise. It made it into the anthology and apparently from there onto bottle caps. Color me delighted.
Follow up email to her after google search about her:
Ms. Shaller, I was very happy to find your essay regarding my six-word-memoir and I have submitted a response. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Amy Hartl Sherman
Ms. Shaller’s email response:
Responses to one’s writing are always surprising. Responses to one’s grumpy writing from the person one was grumped about–well, those are certainly sobering. I had no idea the blog was still visible. I applaud your good humor.
And, Ms. Shaller, I applaud the occasional kick in the head…