A new episode of Points South is now playing!Subscribe today and never miss an episode. Episode Three features Arkansas’s “cemetery angel,” Ruth Coker Burks, John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Three Encounters” + a performance by Los Texmaniacs. For more information visit oxfordamerican.org/pointssouth. | Oct, 2019
Harrison Scott Key is a contributing editor at Oxford American. His writing has been featured in The Best American Travel Writing, the New York Times, and Outside. His first memoir, The World’s Largest Man won the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and his second, Congratulations, Who Are You Again?, was released on November 6. Watch the trailer for his new book here.
Every slight got raked into a sad little pile of hurt, which is why, I think, we both laughed with such obvious scorn whenever one of our acquaintances euphorically declared their marital friendship on social media. We laughed because we secretly wanted that friendship, too, and had given up believing it was possible in this particular marriage. But it was fine. Only a few more decades of this pathetic business and we’d be dead! It’s fine!
In many ways, I blame rock & roll for what happened. I discovered this unholy music in boyhood, when my Uncle Mike died an untimely death at age twenty-eight. My grandmother gave all his 8-tracks to me, music I’d never heard before: Rush, Bowie, Little Feat, Eat a Peach. The eighties pop dished out by FM radio was candied and glittering and great fun, sure, but this older music was dark and gas-powered, all fire and gravel.
“Is that all I should say at graduation?” I asked my children. “Shouldn’t I tell a story?” And they were like, “Definitely do not tell a story.” And I was like, “Why?” And they were like, “Trust us.” And that is one piece of advice I’m going to ignore, because I’m going to tell you a story.
The first time I admitted that yes, I was related to Francis Scott Key, it came as a shock, even to me, because, of course, I was lying. While my other college friends experimented with drugs and God, I experimented with genealogy.
People have gone to Texas for many reasons. In the past, people went because they were running from something, such as Johnny Law or Jerry Influenza, while others went to get rich by digging in the ground for valuable commodities, such as oil and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. As for me, I came to Texas for a much less noble reason, which was to try to be a writer.
This recipe engenders a radical new discourse among yams of various traditions, although the exact nature of alternate new discourses is not predicated by the precise mode of the current proposed project, as indicated by the author's openness to interpretive dialogues that involve large marshmallows, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, and bourbon (optional).
"All through elementary school I showed a keen interest in writing, which I did by hand, with a pencil and paper, which I then folded and handed to girls in my class, in hopes that they would bear my children. That taught me a valuable lesson for a young writer, which is that sometimes people who read your work will want to bear your children, so it's always good to carry protection, by which I mean a weapon."