I’m traveling alone, renting a cabin at a normally tranquil spotthat’s called foreshadowingon the banks of the Big Laramie River at the edge of the Medicine Bow National Forest.
So begins Janna L. Goodwin’s lighthearted collection of nail-biting stories, all true, and all of which fill the listener with wonder … as in, “I wonder how any of us survives?”
Encounters with wildfire, insects, house pets, weather, gravity, predators, bullies, and the most potent force of allfear itselfunfold in remote landscapes of the American West (and Midwest); on the neon-splashed sidewalks of Hollywood; at a Catskills summer camp for actors; in the lavish apartment of a famous senator; in a Hawaiian beach condo; on the side of a mountain above the Mediterranean Sea; and far beneath the streets of Paris. Goodwin looks for and ultimately finds meaning (if not security) in a clear-eyed acknowledgment of our shared, human conditionand in laughter.
|Publisher:||Travelers' Tales Guides, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||16 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from "The Wolf and Me"
When I was in the fifth grade, I was friends (ish)brieflywith Debbie Weigler.You’ve never heard of Debbie, but if you had been a fifth grader at Grant Elementary then, you’d have known all about her. She was one of those sturdy, self-confident, flaxen-haired girls with the loud, raspy voices who say mean things about everybody. The rest of us have to either openly admire the facility with which such girls express their aggression, or become unwitting objects of their formidable contempt. I walked a dishonest line between those two options: I feigned respect, and was therefore allowed into Debbie’s circle for a few short weeks. Her conduct went against everything I’d ever been taught in Sunday School about how to treat other people, and everything I believed, but she was popular, she owned lots of Barbies, and she had a horse.
One Sunday afternoon after church, I was invited to accompany Debbie and her family up to their winter recreational base, a one-room cabin on Casper Mountain. There, her older cousin, Kevin, sixteenwho was compelling, what with the brown eyes, the crooked front tooth and the musky, unwashed tang of boy teenagertook us, Debbie first, then me, on our own, separate, individualized Skidoo rides. I had not planned for this (I figured we were coming up here to throw a few snowballs and sit in front of a fire, sipping hot chocolate) and had failed to bring a snowsuit. My gloves were made of knit cotton, and I had no hat. The Weiglers provided me with mittens and, at the last minute, Mr. Weigler made me wear his red hunting cap, pulling the flaps down over my ears.
“Don’t let the wolves get you!” Debbie’s uncle called out as his son and I started out the gate for my turn. I had not considered the possibility of wolves before that moment, but even as it crossed my mind to worry, I also dismissed the thought, so as to be able to enjoy myself. There’s no wolves on Casper Mountain, went my reasoning.
We quickly left the road, then departed from the established trail to gallivant about the white, wild, forest. When I thought we were going in one direction, we would instead go in another. I was anxious that we might get lost. What could I do but hang on? I have since come to appreciate the circumbendibus; it has gotten me where I am today, which happens to be here.
My ride would turn out to be longer than Debbie’s by five minutes or so. This was not due to a navigational error, but because we would stop in the woods so thatwrong! Good guess, but no: not so that Kevin could molest me.
No, unpleasant sexual encounters wouldn’t start happening for another few years. For example, when I was in high school, I would work part-time at KATI radio where, one night, a popular DJJack Smarmywould ask me to reach above my head to get an LP from the top shelf. While my arms were raised, my hands holding a precariously balanced stack of records, he would press against me with what I would take to be his jabby belt buckle. When he panted, grabbing my hips, heat emanating from his groin against my posterior, I would realize something gross was happening but I would still be, essentially, a kid, in an era when girls my age from families like mine had only the vaguest of notions regarding urges and pleasure, much less assault. I would have had no acquaintance with hard-ons, much less with sexual misbehavior. The frotteur was an adult, a local celebrity, who was thought to be a decent guy. I would assume that his concupiscence was somehow my fault. Flustered, I would smile, because politeness was programmed into my cultural if not biological DNA. I would wriggle away, blushing. I would regard the contingence as creepy and upsetting and keep it to myself, pretending it had not happened. What would I say? To whom would I say it? Jack would, afterwards, start openly teasing me with sexual innuendoes, in response to which I would accommodatingly nod and giggle in spite of being appalled by giggling. Sometimes, our learned performances of cheerful compliance are so embedded in our moral and physical repertoire that we are hard pressed to overcome their instruction.
Sitting behind him, I clung to Debbie’s cousin Kevin’s torso as he sped, bumped, wove, dodged and twisted through the trees, showing off. The hunting cap kept slipping over my eyes, so much of what I remember is darkness and the racket made by the machine. We tried conversationmostly him yelling back, asking if I was okay, and me yelling in his ear Woo-hooh! A half mile from the cabin, we might have been in the taiga of Siberia, so reduced was the population: two. Kevin slowed and cut the enginenot, it would turn out, to take advantage of my youth, naivete, and vulnerability for his own sexual pleasure. That would happen, sure, plenty, though not right then: not at Kevin’s hands, and not on Casper Mountain…
Table of ContentsYou Are Reminded That Your Safety Is Your Own Responsibility
Mind the Abyss
Then They Come Towards You
And I’ll Obey
How It Could Happen
The Wolf and Me
The End of the World Notwithstanding