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What I'd Give Up to Write Like Anne Lamott

by Susan Samuels Drake

 I once thought Penis Envy would last me a lifetime, but the older I get the more I envy author Anne Lamott.

Like the morning when I read one of Annie's essays on what to do when you have a jackass in the White House (and Annie didn't even mean a Democrat). I want to fire away at Life with accuracy and wit, the way Annie writes. Who else can say "God" and the f-word-and be dead serious with the full implications of both — in the same book (someone says it's the same line, but I don't have a copy of her Traveling Mercies to check)?

What makes me think as if I'm still wearing Peter Pan collars? What keeps me from licking the feelings, drooling on the pages? I want a lot of things (see list below), but I'd give them up if I could get an imagination as hard, turgid, and penetrating as Annie's.

Susan's Wish List:

I want buzz saws to purr with the building of schools instead of cutting up the old ones to make way for mega-mansions.

I want presidential candidates Kucinich and Dean to promise me they'd cut off their weenies before they'd bomb anybody. And I want them to keep their promise. And for this new Prez & Prez's (forget Vice; let's have both so I don't have to choose) Secretaries of State, let's have those political geniuses Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower. And Dolores Huerta for Secretary of Peace.

I want my son, the one with the new house, to call me and say, "Mom, I'm having a housewarming. Tell me when you can come and I'll set the date." But he'll probably "forget" to invite me, because he'll be afraid I'll tell about that time he went to a junior high retreat at the Presbyterian Church and some girl French-kissed him — his first kiss.

I want my lover to do something so adoring that the rest of my hair will turn silver like my skunk streak in front.

I want my ankles to stop swelling and my lips to set boundaries instead of blur into my face.

I want a week in Hawaii without having to get on a plane to get there.

I want to set my alarm clock, and, when I wake up, God will be laughing her little kitty socks off. "Ha, fooled ya good, didn't I," she'll bellow; and I'd find out that this f---ing (I mean literally; I'm not being vulgar) war was only a nightmare.

Is it all about me? No.

I want boys and girls of all ages to go out and play, leave behind their videos and war toys.

I want them to paint grand landscapes and not graffiti, and clean up creeks and stop eating junk food.

I want them to remember how to whistle and forget to say the f-word for at least five minutes unless they're talking about war as a liberation tool.

I want everyone to wonder if there's a God, to look at the good things in our world and say 'thanks for all this,' even if it turns out no one is listening.

If I can have a chance at writing so that people will cry and laugh at the same time, the way Annie does, I won't even ask to lose five more pounds or to remember the crucial prepositions in Spanish.

I will forgive Dennis Brown for saying he's really sorry he spread the news that I was a slut just because I kissed him back that summer of our junior year. I won't even ask for a daughter or a Firebird or for the local poet patron to recognize my work.

Sigh. Think I'll go shopping for one of those guns that Annie carries, the kind that fires ammunition packed with zaniness and penetrates the human heart with the deftness of a cardiovascular surgeon.


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