Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me
Most of my friends call me Trudy, but Denise and my family call me Tru. I keep asking my mother if I can change my name to Leah or Jamie or some normal name. She won't let me because everyone in her family for two hundred years has been named after a famous writer. I tell her Judy Blume and Ann Martin are famous writers and they have normal names, but she says Gertrude Stein was a writer from the twenties and I should be proud to be named after her. My mother was named after Virginia Woolf--another great writer but a suicide case like my uncle Tommy.
Miggs Macrides heard Denise call me Tru, so now he calls me Falsie. He's one of those kids who thinks his jokes are still funny three days after he says them. I think jokes are like soda; they lose their fizz pretty quickly.
The reason I know so much about jokes is because I've been the butt of a few of them. Mostly by association. My brother, Eddie, has special needs and, unfortunately, that sometimesbrings out the comedian in people who don't know him. I try to ignore the comments and have the relaxed attitude about life my mother has, but most of the time I end up worrying about stupid things--like homework, whether Billy Meier likes me, or if there's any disability in me. I worry about that last one because I'm Eddie's twin.
Asphyxia, that's what my mom called it--not getting enough oxygen. Poor Eddie was inside her suffocating and no one knew. I remember the day she explained it to me, I was bringing my bike into the garage. I asked her how to spell it twice, then traced the letters--a-s-p-h-y-x-i-a--on the seat of my bike with my finger. She didn't need to say it could have been me, 'cause I was thinking that already.
Eddie looks like my mother with his greenish eyes and dark brown hair. I take after my father--or so everyone says--with my blond hair and big ears. My mother says my father was a good guy (sensitive and well-meaning), but he just wasn't prepared for children, let alone twins, and one with special needs at that. He tried for the first two years of our lives to make it work, but when he got the opportunity to work in the Peace Corps in Africa, he jumped at the chance. My mom says it was probably the best thing, but I think charity begins at home.
My mother is a freelance graphic designer. Sometimes her work is in fancy magazines with her name printed in tiny letters along the side of the page. She works at companies for weeks or months part-time when they need help, then moves on to another place. Sometimes she even works on weekends. Because her computer is always set up on the dining room table, Eddie and I have learned how to use it, too. Especially Eddie. It's as if the is a race car, the way he moves and clicks it across the table. He loves to make all kinds of cool drawings on the computer. I write captions for them and hang them around the house. Whenever we get invited to a party (which isn't that often, now that I think about it), I pick out the present and Eddie designs the wrapping paper.
My mother says I should work on my self-esteem, so she tries to get me to do exercises to improve it. I tell her I feel okay in the self-esteem department and that I should be working on my math homework instead. But she usually insists, asking me to visualize myself on top of a mountain. I picture myself on top of Mount Everest (or at least how it looks at the travel agency in the mall), then I act strong and powerful for the rest of the afternoon so she thinks I'm making progress. I try to tell her Eddie is the one who needs assertivenesstraining, since he's the one who gets picked on more, but she says future women--she never says girls--need all the help they can get. Besides, she says, Eddie has a special angel with him all the time. Well, I wish his angel would visit me once in a while, especially if it's invisible, so it can go into Ms. Ramone's office and find the answers to Friday's math quiz.
But if I did have a wish--make that two--here's what they'd be: to have my own television show and for Eddie to be un-handicapped. My mother says goals are just dreams with deadlines and that anything is possible if you're willing to do the work to make it come true. As far as my two wishes go, I wouldn't want to put a deadline on either of them soon.
I've always wanted to be on TV--in front of or behind the camera. My favorite toy as a kid was this microphone that amplified your voice (like mine needs any amplification). Mom says I used to carry it everywhere with me, calling out prices in the grocery store, doing play-by-plays for neighborhood sporting events. Because she's not a ham-bone like me, my mom can never figure out why I perform in front of any video camera I see. My favorites are the hidden ones at the bank and my grandfather's apartment building. The person whomonitors the video cameras at the Bank of Boston probably groans every time I walk in. I like to think I add some entertainment to his or her day.
It's not like I'm some weirdo who just wants to be seen; who cares if the audience sees you if you don't have anything to say? I'm more like a director in training--digging up stories, filming documentaries that I hope will change the world. That's how I'll cure Eddie, uncovering some amazing new therapy through my meticulous research. Win the Nobel Prize while helping out my brother. All in a day's work.
These are the kinds of things I think about while I'm lying on my bed staring at the ceiling. I write my two dreams down on the palms of each hand, a to-do list tattoo. I don't really want anything else this year. Except maybe to go out with Billy Meier.
TRU CONFESSIONS. Copyright © 1997 by Janet Tashjian. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address Square Fish, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.