The Six-Word Memoir Blog

More on the Highline Event: A Contributor’s P.O.V.

Monday, June 8th, 2009

By Susan Breeden

When I first told my coworkers that I’d be flying from Houston to New York to read my six-word memoir, I got various responses, ranging from “That is sooooo cool!” to “You’re flying 2,000 miles to do what?”

Then there was this response, to which I wasn’t sure how to react: “Oh, that’s nice. Have you ever tried chicken liver sandwiches? You have to try one while you’re in New York.” (Did I mention I’ll actually get to go on stage? That’s what I wanted to say, but didn’t.)

My coworker was adamant about the sandwich. No questions about the whole six-word memoir thing (and most people asked for some clarification). Just reminders, throughout the day, that I give her all the details upon my return. ”Details about the chicken liver sandwich,” she was sure to clarify. (Did I mention that Amy Tan would also be reading? That I’d be in the company of literary greatness?)

I’m all for trying new things. But eating an unfamiliar food on an otherwise nervous stomach, didn’t seem like a smart idea. Yet, the thought of it stuck in my craw for the entire trip. I caught myself looking at the menus posted outside of restaurants just to see if they offered chicken liver sandwiches, and feeling resentful that I was even wasting my time on such a thing. But I knew my coworker would be looking forward to a full report, and far be it from me to disappoint anyone. (Did I mention I’d only be in New York a few days? Would that have sounded lame, when a sandwich can be consumed in a matter of minutes?)

Sure enough, when I went to work the following Monday, my coworker’s first question was: “Well? Did you try a chicken liver sandwich?”

When I said “No, I really wasn’t there long enough,” what followed was a strange silence and, if I’m not mistaken, a disapproving stare. I wanted to tell her about the terrific show, the comedians, the musicians, but I didn’t detect any interest in hearing such things. Still, I wanted to share some of the excitement I had felt, standing on stage with the other memoirists, being introduced by name, walking up to the microphone, praying that I wouldn’t forget or fumble the only six words I had to say, hoping that I didn’t have something lodged between my teeth, or dangling from a nostril, or stuck to the bottom of my shoe, and wanting to savor every second of the 5 seconds I was given while, simultaneously, wanting to get it over with so I could stop being so damn nervous.

But I didn’t say a thing. And, obviously, no further questions were forthcoming. I had answered the only one she had, and my answer had been the wrong one. (Did I mention that this event was a very special opportunity? A once-in-a-lifetime…? Oh, never mind.)

-Susan Breeden

2 responses

  1. Bethe says:

    I loved your story and watched the online video of every six-word memoirist. Congrats. Kudos. Take a bow.

    BTW, I think I’ve worked with that co-worker before. She may even be in my writers’ group.

    Glad you didn’t eat the sandwich. It sounds gross.

  2. Susan says:

    Thanks, Bethe!
    Hmm…maybe it is the same person. Every office and writers’ group needs one…

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