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© 2011 Lenae Day

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NONE OF THEM TURNED OUT THE WAY THEY WERE IN MY HEAD


I have much more experience being in love with fictional people than real ones. 

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho didn’t scare me like most horror films because I was in love with Anthony Perkins in all of his glorious creepy awkwardness. I would watch specific scenes over and over again and try to be closer to him. That didn’t work. So I got really into taxidermy and although I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach actually doing it, I researched how it was done. I did the same things with Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate and Bud Cort’s in Harold and Maude. 

When I was 13, I had a brief affair with Thomas Jefferson. I liked him because I read a slightly steamy novel about his relationship with Sally Hemings. Did you know that he had a secret room above his bed for their trysts? So romantic.

Although I am quite a tart in my fictional relationships, down here—on earth— I am probably one of the most innocent girls you will meet. I can count on one hand the number of guys I have dated—and that includes elementary school.


I own a pair of bright green seventies running shorts—the kind that are barely bigger than underwear. When I was fifteen, I wore them on a run along some country roads. Big mistake. I got several honks and when I was on my way back, about a mile from home, a man pulled over in an old Chevy. He was thin and weathered, wore glasses and a beard. His truck crawling next to me, he said “You’re lookin’ good! Training for a marathon? What’s a pretty thing like you doing running on this road?” I couldn’t tell if he was concerned or coming onto me.

“Oh uh . . . . just going home.”

He seemed to think for a moment, then said, “Well, keep on running! Just don’t stop. You’ll make it.” He laughed and said “goodbye”.

“Uh, bye,” I said as he drove off. That was the day that I understood that I was an object of desire. And that the running shorts probably weren’t the best idea. I had never though anything of them before because my 6 foot 2, 260-lb. father wore a similar pair out on his runs. I guess modesty wasn’t big in our family.

My father and I once got into an argument. It was very childish, but we were both trying to prove who was in better shape. My dad loves to argue and I can’t seem to help myself from going along. We were doing push-ups and verbally going though our workout routines when finally, he said, “Let’s race, right here, right now. Around the neighborhood.” I laugh now, but we were both so serious as we threw our shorts on and headed out the door.

On the first big hill I slowed down to make sure he was okay. My father hardly ever ran and was pushing himself much harder than he should have just to prove a point. I worried about a heart attack.

Years later I realized what he really wanted was someone to run with. I still wonder, why all the theatrics?


My father is a character. A big, loud, often obnoxious cartoon character. People describe him as larger than life. In either case he is not real to most people, so how can I be real?


I have a lot of experience being a fictional person.


So when I married the boy that I had dreamed of marrying when I was seven, fiction and reality collapsed in on each other, burying me in the rubble.

He could never live up to the character he was in my head.


Once, when I was shopping in the supermarket, I saw a boy through the window. He was wearing a hat and had bits of hair sticking out from under it. I thought “Man, that guy is hot. How come I haven’t seen him around here before?”

A split second later, I realized that it was me. I was seeing a reflection in the mirror. Not a real person.

“She was the color of honey, straight and firm, but yielding to roundnesses that seemed cleaved from soft-blown silk.”

MODERN CANDOR