26. My brother had the kind of temper that would make a huge vein pop out on his forehead.
27. I was afraid of that vein.
28. My fourth grade teacher was a recent divorcee. One day she told us about her wedding dress and what a colossal pain in the ass it was to put on. She described hundreds of buttons all along the back that took her bridesmaid an hour to secure.
29. I won grand prize at the town-wide Fine Arts Fair, circa 1989, for my book titled “Witchimina Fafner and the Popularity Elixir.”
30. In junior high, I would wear sneakers on gym day no matter what else I had on. It was not unusual to see me in a sweater, a suede skirt, nylons and white Reeboks.
31. I ran for eighth grade class president on the “Don’t Clown Around, Vote for Binky” ticket.
32. I lost.
33. I hated junior high.
34. My sister was born when I was thirteen years old.
35. As a pre-teen, I became infatuated with the movie Young Guns and the series Young Riders. I wrapped a sheet of blue construction paper around a coffee tin, cut a slot in the cover, and christened it my “Wild West Fund.” I called the 1-800 number advertised on television for a free Texas travel guide. I never saved up.
36. Subsequent infatuations included the Italian mafia, racecar drivers, and the men of the United States military.
37. The best teacher I ever had was my ninth grade civics teacher. He took a group of us to Yale to see Norman Mailer speak and another group of us to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. He gave me a copy of Armies of the Night; Ben Bradlee’s autobiography; and a written recommendation that my college interviewer said she would never forget.
38. The worst teacher I ever had taught Shakespeare as an elective. His was more of a core curriculum mentality. On the second occasion that I forgot to bring my big, honking anthology to class, he took me out into the hall and berated me for several minutes. He had closed the classroom door; it shook from the screaming.
39. There were days when the only person who would sit at my table during lunch was the learning disabled boy who bagged groceries for me at the supermarket where I worked as a cashier.
40. I hated high school.
41. I was a member of the creative writing club and editor of the literary magazine.
42. One day, just before I turned seventeen, it occurred to me that there was nothing stopping me from having sex.
43. So I did.
44. It was a marvelous epiphany.
45. I started looking for colleges based on two criteria: distance from home and the quality of the creative writing program.
46. When I found the school that fit the bill perfectly, I was not deterred by the fact that it was an all women’s college.
47. I figured I could do without the day-to-day distraction of men.
48. I did, however, make sure there was ample supply nearby.
49. My early decision application was accepted.
50. I got a D in English on my final high school report card.