A small story:

I have a friend, a writer, who swears that all women she knows who write comedy had at least one narcissistic parent. I was reminded of this months later when I went to a reading she gave. After the reading, the host asked if there were any questions.
As it so often happens, the audience fell awkwardly silent and I went into my self-appointed job which is "Ask the first question at a friend's Q&A because this particular silence feels like a thousand shards of glass under your skin."
I asked the question I always ask:

"What do you wish people who didn't write knew about the process of writing?"

It's a good question at least in part because it allows a writer to do what a writer enjoys more than nearly anything, which is complain.
My friend happily launched into complaining about how miserable it is to get from draft one to draft two and did it in a lively and hilarious manner. The audience warmed up and arms were raised. The host pointed to a woman in the back and my friend wilted, just a bit.
"I know all about writing," the woman in the back said, "Because I'm her mother and I wrote several excellent books, but none of them were published because I had two children back-to-back."


"Do you," the host finally said, "Have a...question?"

She did not.
Later that week, we walked and I noted her theory about narcissists creating female comedy writers. My friend said with deceptive calm, "I'm so glad you were there to see it, because had I told you, you might have accused me of lying.

I shook my head.
"I would not," I said, "Because the only thing which would have kept my mother from doing that is she only had one child."

I thought of that this week when I saw a friend for a friendly shout across six feet. She recently had good news to tell her family.
Since good news in the past year has been as elusive as snow leopards, her news within her family was the top of all conversations. Except, of course, with the narcissist who in her dynamic is her father.
"He called my aunt to complain that since I'm getting more gigs he can no longer come to California because people will make fun of him," she explained.

I stared into space as I felt bubbles of thought pop in my head like carbonation.
"So," I finally said, "He thinks that everyone in California knows every single one of your routines-"

"Only the parts about him."

"Of course. Knows who your father is -"

"Even though we don't share a last name."

"Even though you don't share a last name."
"And," I finished, "Having a granular knowledge of the parts of your routine related to him, all Californians printed out a picture of him and hung it next to their bed so they could memorize his face so if he ever crosses the state line, they will be ready to...goof on him."
Narcissists are the Escher drawing of a hand which is drawing itself, an eternal inner loop of self-absorption. @TheRealHoarse did a fabulous job of explaining how the Malignant Narcissist In Chief would act because, as he explains, they are ultimately simply wired organisms.
The Andy Bernard OFFICE quote, "Andy Bernard does not lose contests. He wins them. Or he quits them, because they're unfair" could be the Narcissist family motto. My mother, my friend's parents, weren't Malignant Narcissists, they were just regular narcissists. That's enough.
When you spend your formative years around someone who is more invested than the regular human being in never appearing wrong and will move any goalposts, no matter how small or large, to make anything about them, reality gets fucked with, a lot.
Children look to their folks to understand how to understand the world. I still remember seeing the first time Toddler Kid was at the playground and she fell hard. She hit the ground and a second later, she looked straight at me. She was literally asking how she felt about this.
"You're fine," I said in a confident tone.

She got up and ran away and I shook for a few minutes at the thought of that level of responsibility in my idiot hands.

Narcissists, not so troubled. "Here's what reality is unless I need to change it to feel okay."
Children instinctively understand reality should not be a moving target. I think for a percentage of children of narcissists the impulse to write, to make jokes, is their way of saying, "I am going to keep a record of this because apparently no one else will."
Why more women than men?

Maybe it's not true. Maybe male writers have the same origin story. I don't think so, though; I think that we're getting better at not muting our girl children but that anyone old enough to be a writer or a comic came of age when we still did that.
I think some now-adult women had to rely on unreliable parents and that overtly pushing back against the narcissist who feeds and houses you is suicidal. It's not as if a ten year old can get a good government job and start buying their own mac and cheese.
An apocryphal story says that after Galileo was forced by the Catholic Church to recant his claim that the Earth revolved around the Sun because it would defy Scripture (and we all know what happens to heretics) he said softly, "Eppur si muove."

"And yet, it moves."
Any time a girl child has trained themselves to notice the chasm between what they know and what they've been told, any diary she has written in, any joke she's mumbled under her breath, is her "And yet, it moves."

And it does.
And now, THE AD! If you like these Small Stories, can I coax you into helping to support them? I promise to tell you you're fine when you fall.

And now, the other ad!

I have a deal for you on @librofm (libro.fm/redeem/Quinn)

My membership benefits @vromans! Yours could benefit your local indie bookstore! Here are some audiobooks sort of about surviving and thriving!
Well, this Small Story has had a RIDE.

Go check out my SoundCl- oh. I don’t have a SoundCloud but I do teach a free Mixology class on Zoom on Saturdays! You can participate or not! It benefits @SanteDOr! Sign up at quinncummings.com/mix!

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More from @quinncy

22 Feb
A small story:

I coughed to get Consort's attention as he was very busy watching the Sunday morning talking head shows and screaming. Having gotten his attention, I held up two tank tops.

"Which one," I asked, "Seems more appropriate for a Zoom baby shower?"
Silence enveloped us.
Finally, I helped him and said, "Pick one so I can decide on the other."

He picked one and I decided on the other.

It's been a while since I attended a baby shower because, I just realized, in my cohort there is a very short window of time where you're excited to have a baby.
Read 30 tweets
5 Feb
A small story:

"Have you lost anyone?" is now a reasonable thing to ask someone you haven't spoken to in a while; sometimes, you hear the person pausing, trying to determine which loss you mean, COVID or politics.
In our lives, we have lost one person directly to COVID, one person maybe to COVID (early, strange pulmonary death) and one person who died of something unrelated but, in a way, all deaths are COVID deaths this year, in that we didn't use to have to die on FaceTime.
Until recently, I would have sworn I hadn't lost anyone the other way. Yes, we have relatives who are in New York who are Republican but still despised him because, well, they're from New York and have frontal lobes. They voted for him because they were trained to hate her more.
Read 19 tweets
4 Feb
A small story:

When I was 17, I worked for a casting director, Beverly Long. My job wasn't onerous and seeing as a great deal of it consisted moving an actor from one room to another room one might make the argument I could have been replaced by an Australian Cattle Dog..
One of my jobs was helping to set up casting sessions, which meant a lot of calling commercial agents. Talk to people every day, you begin to develop relationships. After a few months, a modeling booker invited me to a party to celebrate their millionth Estonian model.
(It is possible I didn't register the reason for the party)
Read 34 tweets
3 Feb
Got your book yesterday from @librofm; last night, I had force myself to go to sleep and not just listen to "One more story..."

There aren't many books I can honestly say are possibly even better as audio books but I LOVE hearing the writers reading their own work and poems.
And the layering of sound is incredibly evocative.
For those of you who don't know the idea behind the book, eighty writers, essayist, historians were each given five years of the 400 year history of Africans in the Americas, to pick an event during those five years and write something about it.
Read 6 tweets
2 Feb
A small story:

Baseless theory in 3,2...

Part of the outpouring of completely earned love #TedLasso is getting is because in an unshowy, undidactic way @jasonsudeikis and Bill Lawrence created a potential pathway forward for masculinity.

Ted Lasso loves sports, stands up for his friend when her ex-husband is being an absolute dick to her, has a wardrobe which he has spent no more than 16 seconds of thought on.

In sum, he ticks a lot of the "Guy" boxes.
He's also curious, which demands vulnerability because to be curious must begin from the statement, "I do not know."

I know a fair amount of male-identified humans.

That's not an easy thing for them to say.

He's enthusiastic, gleefully supportive of his friends and players.
Read 16 tweets
2 Feb
My theory:

The kind of people who succeed are the kinds who aren't troubled by the word "No."

Well, until very recently the kind of people who succeed were men.

Someone turns my work down, they're turning me down and I have to go have a restorative burrito.
Another person with a blend of more confidence and perhaps far more testosterone but not a speck more talent just keeps pushing. Another pitch, another idea. They will keep going because stopping isn't going to get them what they want, which happens to be true.
I knew someone who worked in a large retail establishment who upon being hired was given the corporate manual. He showed it to me, for laughs. In there was the phrase, "Take the word 'No' as a request for more information."

The people who live that way get more successful.
Read 8 tweets

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