Tag Archives: coming of age

My 21-Year-Old Self Was an Idiot. Here’s Proof.

We are moving apartments tomorrow, so the past week has been a lot of packing and cleaning out old crap. All of which has been done by a constantly sweating yet not ONCE complaining Eric, while I sit on the couch rubbing my belly, drinking ice water, and grumbling that I’m overwhelmed.

Yesterday Eric pulled this huge dusty box out of the depths of the closet and said “Hey, Emily from 1990, here are your files. Maybe go through them and see if this is something we can throw in the garbage, since we now live in the computer age, and have for 20 plus years?”


So I just went through the box and he was right– I do not, in fact, need a paper copy of the 1-year-warranty for the Sony Vaio laptop I bought in college, nor a receipt for a Gap cardigan purchased in January. Of 2004.

It took me over an hour to go through, rip up, and discard all the blatantly irrelevant crap this box possessed, but my hard labor was rewarded when I reached the end of the files and came across THIS little gem, posted below (in the form of a PDF link. Sorry, after a whole 2 seconds of trying, I couldn’t figure out how else to post it).

It is a paper I wrote during my senior year of college, entitled “The (abridged) Autobiography of Emily Lerman,” and it is ABSURD. Absurd because it is exactly the kind of sarcastic, self-deprecating shit I would post on this blog, except I HANDED IT IN TO A PROFESSOR. AT AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL. FOR A GRADE. 

Now, granted, I got an A. So my professor was either awesome (don’t remember that being the case) or EXTREMELY bored (more likely). Or maybe she appreciated seeing something “different” come across her desk? Most likely she was just drunk. I don’t know, but there’s no doubt something was amiss, because this shit is less a paper for a college course and more a bad audition for Last Comic Standing that ends with the comic sweat-stuttering offstage to a chorus of “You suck!”

So naturally, I need to share it.

A few parts are redacted to protect the innocent, but otherwise I left it in its purest, this-was-definitely-written-by-a-21-year-old-moron form. It’s not even that the writing is that bad (save for a few blatant grammatical errors), it’s just VERY dramatic. Not sure if that was for comedic effect (important in a paper for HISTORY CLASS) or because I was a CHILD when I wrote it, but I do feel the need to clarify that I probably wasn’t THAT miserable as a kid, and Potomac was not THAT absurd a place to grow up (furthermore, the random unneccesary dig I took at my mom, saying she was a real estate agent “when she felt like working” was completely unfair. I can make that joke NOW, but back then, the woman hustled).

Or maybe I was that miserable and growing up in Potomac was that absurd but I’ve now had 15 more years of distance from the “trauma” (img_7593) and kind of just want to smack my young self across the head and be like, “Lighten up, Sassypants. Your life wasn’t hard. You drove a 4Runner.”

Anyway here it is. Enjoy. ( shrug_1f937)

Yes I wrote this for an academic college course

P.S. Future daughter– if I send you to college and this is the kind of shit you produce on my dime, you’re paying your own way.


The Day I Stopped Caring What Old People Think of Me

Years ago, fresh out of graduate school, I worked at a school in the suburbs and had an awesome boss. We’ll call her Diane. Diane was the principal at a predominantly white, predominantly Catholic private school. She was the only black person on the premises, and I was the only Jew, and I always felt like we had a special bond because of that (I am acutely aware that she likely did not feel the same).

Anyway, one day her 5-year-old son came to visit the school, and because we had this special bond (re: I was the only one standing there), Diane asked me to watch him in the yard while she made a quick phone call. He was a gorgeous little boy with huge, beautiful eyes and a vivacious spirit. As I was watching him, a coworker of mine came outside and sat next to me. She was a stuffy, judgmental old white lady who I had absolutely nothing in common with (other than our whiteness) and who, needless to say, never really “got” my sense of humor or personality in general.

It was clear she didn’t like me. But because I was young and insecure, and had a broad, all-encompassing respect for the older generation (a respect I now hand out more selectively, thanks in part to this woman but also thanks to the various old ladies who have spit at me on the streets of NYC), I still felt the need for her approval.

So I tried to strike up a benign, friendly conversation as we watched Diane’s kid climb the jungle gym. “He is just too much, isn’t he? Such a beautiful kid. Diane is in so much trouble when he gets older.”

The woman turned to me, completely unamused and said, “You know, it is subtle statements like that that keep racism alive and present. Most Caucasian people inherently just assume that African American children will grow up to be ‘trouble makers,’ and that attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for them. I don’t see why you would conclude, just from looking at an African American boy, that he will cause trouble when he’s older.”

I stared at her, stunned.

And in that moment, I decided I no longer gave a fuck what she thought of me. Yes, she was old enough to be my grandmother, but you know what? Grandmas are assholes, too.

The prospect of no longer having to impress her was altogether freeing.

“I think you misunderstood me. I said ‘Diane is going to be in trouble when he’s older,’ because he is gorgeous and girls will be falling all over him. Which was a joke. But, to be clear, a joke that had nothing to do with race, and zero to do with him making any actual ‘trouble.’ The fact that you would jump to that conclusion makes you, in fact, the subtle, underlying racist.”

Watching this stuffy old white woman’s face crumble was one of the most satisfying moments of my life.

A few days later, she removed the Swastika-adorned wigwams that had been decorating the entryway to her 2nd grade classroom.

So yeah. I’d say we both learned something that day.



My Own Personal Sex Education

Most people learn about erections in sex ed.

Here’s how I learned

One day in elementary school, I was home alone with Manolita, our nanny at the time.

Manolita spoke limited English and, to put it mildly, was not the sharpest tool in the shed. No, I’m not being an asshole and suggesting the two go hand in hand– I’m just presenting each one as two separate facts that are important to the story (and if you get to the end of this story and still want to argue that Manolita was not intellectually challeneged, then may god have mercy on your soul.)

So Manolita and I are watching some soap operas when Sammy, our family dog (a yellow lab, the best dog in the world, may he rest in peace) began making sweet love to an oversized pink stuffed animal bear that one of my siblings had won at a carnival. This was not unusual practice for Sammy, a puppy at the time, and I always marveled at how sticky that pink bear became after Sammy had his way with it– “So much slobber coming out of your mouth, Sam!”

To be clear, I got that what the dog was doing to the stuffed animal was something vaguely sexual, but I had ZERO understanding of any of the details that go along with such an act.

Which leads us to the following.

Manolita and I are deeply settled into an episode of Days of Our Lives when I glance over to Sammy’s pink bear humpfest, and notice something has gone horribly, horribly awry.

“Oh my god! Manolita!!!! The dog’s penis is inside out!!!”

Manolita turned, looked at the dog, and– I shit you not– FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.

“Sammy! Sammy! No, Sammy, no no no no! What is wrong, Sammy!? He need hospital!!!!! Penis! Hospital! PENIS!”

Well, the second my assigned caregiver screams “hospital, penis!,” I’m naturally going to panic. The dog’s penis was inside-out, and he was licking it furiously (obviously desperately trying to make it go right-side-in again) and if I didn’t act quickly, he was going to lose his penis and possibly his life.

So I called my mother’s car phone. Yeah– not cell phone– CAR phone. That’s where we are in time, guys.

She picked up, mid drive, on speaker phone.

Mom: “Hello?”
Me: “Mom!!!!!!!! It’s Em!!!! HELP! THE DOG’S PENIS IS INSIDE OUT!!!!!!”

She hung up the phone immediately. I would find out later that night that my mom, a real estate agent, had a client in the car at the time, and was escorting said client to a house that she very much hoped to sell to her. My phone call did not make for a comfortable journey. Pretty sure Mom never sealed that deal.

Meanwhile, panicked and not taking my mom’s refusal to speak to me as a sign that I was being RIDICULOUS (and please keep in mind, this entire time, the nanny is screaming “the penis is bleed!!!”), I then called my dad at the office.

Dad: “Hello?”
Dad: “What?”
Dad: “Oh.” (chuckle….long pause) “The dog has a boner.”

And I was never the same.