As we all know, writers are by nature very insecure people, especially in the early years when perhaps the only thing we get published is a letter to the editor and that’s cut from four paragraphs to three lines. In fact, for years basic insecurity was the only thing I had to affirm my credibility as a writer.
But even in my moment of greatest anxiety, I never reached the heights (or should I say the depths) of insecurity as did Glenda Gibberish. She wrote an entire book on squares of toilet tissue and hid each page in an empty roll. When her husband, Harry, asked about all the cardboard cylinders lining the dresser, Glenda told him she was making toys for the gerbils. That worked well until he decided to take an interest in the welfare of the pets. She lost one whole chapter in a single afternoon.
Realizing that would never do, Glenda resorted to stuffing the rolls in her underwear drawer, in the empty cookie jar, and in the springs of the old sofa bed. She figured she was safe since she put her own clothes away and nobody ever bothered with the cookie jar since she never baked. But she forgot about her mother-in-law’s visit. Oddly enough, the other woman said nothing when they unfolded the bed, but Harry gave her one of those looks that we women enjoy so much. Then he surprised the gerbils with new toys.
This ruse went on for years and she couldn’t bring herself to tell a soul that she was writing. Then one day she was hit with this overwhelming urge to “out” herself. It was the same compulsion that drives a dieter to a banana split at Dairy Queen and try as she might Glenda couldn’t shake it. So she had lunch with her best friend and broke the news.
“Oh, no. Is it serious?”
“Not right now, but it could be.”
“How long… I mean, have you been this way forever?”
“Since I was a little girl. But, you know. It isn’t the kind of thing you just drop into casual conversation.”
“Good. Maybe we can keep it from getting around.”
“Don’t worry. I have plenty of editors looking out for me on that count.”
“Have you told Harry yet?”
“No. But he did wonder about the sudden demise of Jake the gerbil. I think he choked on a particularly graphic sex scene.”
“No. The gerbil.”
“How have you managed to keep it from Harry?”
“Right now, I tell him I’m going into the closet to straighten up a few things. But that’s not going to last long. Sooner or later he’s going to remember that I don’t like to straighten anything.”
“Don’t worry. You can trust me with your secret.”
“Actually, I wouldn’t mind if you told a few people. My book comes out next month and I need the publicity.”