Monday, July 30, 2018

Tab Hunter -- the Corrected Memory

Uh, oh. My little Tab Hunter post has opened up a can of worms. I could put it all down to a memory problem, but ... it’s a bigger story than that.

It all started with Tab Hunter dying and my thinking of “My Future World,” the novel I wrote about our married life together. That reminded me of The Little White Closet, the chest of drawers that held all my stories and creative ventures when I was little. Unfortunately, when I was away at college, my stuff disappeared, replaced by my mother’s financial folders. Gone was the novel. That part of the story you’ve heard.

In order to paint The Little White Closet for the blog, I needed to remember the colors of the drawers. So I put the question out on the sibling email. My sister, Allison, and I shared the dresser. We emailed back and forth with images of the drawer layout, trying to remember, but ultimately I had to guess at the color scheme. We emailed about the bedroom layout, the stuffed animals we each had on our beds, the old, clunky TV. It was a real trip down memory lane.

And then Allison wrote this:
I was just looking for that email again so I typed in “Tab Hunter” and I just found an old email of ours from 2014 where you, Barbara, wrote about finding your novel about marrying him.
Pause for major mental readjustment. I’d found it?

Pause for major hunt through boxes in the downstairs closet and … the discovery of “My Future World.” Or the re-discovery, as the facts show: on June 8, 2014, I sent an email to the siblings announcing the discovery of the novel. It’s there, in my sent mail. I even mention my author’s note:

That was 2014. It is now 2018. Where did that memory cell go?

And where did all the false memories come from? Why, for instance, was I positive that Tab and I had 26 children, named alphabetically? The real novel: “You all know he was a bachelor but he finally married a young girl by the name of Barbara Brown. Mrs. Hunter was an actress and a very fine mother of a family of 12 boys.” 12, not 26. And it was not written on a Big Chief pad.

Especially shocking to me were the number of pets: six dogs, five cats, and a bird named Twinkles. In real life, I am not a dog person, not a cat person; I guess Barbara Hunter was. But even she had her limits. Chapter 2: Worse than an Elephant. The boys got a duck and named him Blabby. He jumped on beds, tore pants, and ate greens. He was given away to Uncle Larry and Aunt Dot, who also lived in Hollywood, along with Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Eric.

Yes, Allison was still in New Hampshire, but in Chapter 4, the whole family visited her:

So it wasn’t exactly banishment. Even though the Hunters lived at 62 Maple Avenue, Hollywood, California, they could visit Aunt Allison on a weekend. On the way home, they stopped off in Alabama (Alabama?!?) to visit Barbara’s father.

All siblings accounted for, Dad accounted for (in Alabama?!?), but where is Mom?

Uh, oh.

In college, I discovered The Little White Closet was emptied of all my childhood writings. I blamed my mother. Despite her denials, I “mentioned” her transgression often. Maybe every trip home.

1989: I pack and mail a box of Long Island things to Anchorage. The address label is in my handwriting.
2014: I discover the box with my novel inside it.
2016: At my mother’s funeral, I again mentioned how she’d tossed my writings.
a few days ago: I wrote a blog post and clearly insinuated that my mother had thrown them out.

I absolutely, positively believed my mother had thrown out my stuff despite all the evidence to the contrary. Shit.

Today, I have an announcement: My mother did not throw my stories away. Tab Hunter died without seeing my novel, and my mother died before I could ever acknowledge she hadn’t thrown it away.

Did my mother feel as wronged as I had?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I get the smiley face, but not the "voice of my mother." Or was my mother un-wronged because I had a happy life? I definitely like your last paragraph. My mother knew she was right.

  2. I think you have well and fairly vindicated your mother and humbled yourself before the blogosphere.

    1. Humbled is a better word than embarrassed, shamed, humiliated. Thank you.


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