JH: So which one of these in “Sweet Revenge” is real? Or closest to it? Or if none, why not?
TM: I swear I never performed any of the vengeful deeds depicted in the story. There were, in an earlier draft, a couple of sections that came closer to actual experience than the ones I kept. For instance, there was a section about getting dumped by a woman named Carole and then calling up her sister for a date. The sister says, “What, are you nuts? Wait’ll I tell Carole!”
That almost happened, but it’s tangled in my brainpan with a memory from when I was sixteen and my girlfriend Sandy—who didn’t, for some reason, want to make out every single second we were together—caught me necking with her younger, prettier sister in the basement of their home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I’ll bet that taught Sandy a valuable life lesson, but I hope she hasn’t become a strung-out prostitute with bad skin sitting on a sad and filthy bed somewhere. That would be really
But, whoa, I’m telling about something that isn’t even in the story!
What in the story is real? My wife is not Louise or Carla, but she is an avid gardener. She’s out in her garden pruning and fertilizing things night and day. Call me a racist, but I’m not crazy about cats. I’ve never understood, either, why someone would advertise their alma mater on clothing or bumper stickers—Be Here Now, for christ’s sake! I once found a long-abandoned pair of panties under a sofa cushion. When I had a dog I talked to him. A lot. Macramé gives me the creeps. I really do have a friend named Jerry. I never drank infected monkey blood, but I was bitten by a monkey at the Philadelphia Zoo.
One of the things I enjoy about writing is the chance to be someone else. I can, slapping away at the keyboard, be a disturbed vet with an unfortunate tattoo, a teenage girl who wishes she were Fiona Apple, a cheerful dead man, a single mom in a tornado. Or a clueless guy with a fear of commitment and a real knack for revenge. I try to find a true voice and then lie like crazy.