Tommy Walker

Factual Error in ‘Monstrous’

*****NEWS FLASH*****

Someone from Romania searched the term “old hermaphrodites”. Did he come to me looking for porn??  Thinking I supplied that kind??


Today I’ve been going through the very interesting exercise of recounting my entire 28-year work history, as part of a job application.  The only employer I’ve come across in the past almost four months without a number-of-years cut-off.  After a couple days of resisting the process, all the while grousing that this was age discrimination, to force me to spend a whole day (and then some) on an application that would take a bumpkin out of high school just minutes, I reconciled myself to the task.  The restaurant can screw itself if they don’t give me a job (and karmicly if they do) but I was curious what it would look like.  You want thorough and complete?  I’ll show you thorough and complete.

Normally, I don’t mention jobs for which I never collected a paycheck, so as to be able to write them off as bad dreams, but for you I’ll regale you with my day and ten minutes split between two telemarketing jobs (one a day, the other ten minutes), and my day of cashier duty at a place where I learned their policy was that after I had been terrorized at gunpoint for the two hundred dollars in my till, that I’d be fined for the monetary loss.  I have lawn-mowing stories to tell you, I was a third-string paperboy; I babysat once.  Self-employed, I scissored panels out of a superhero comicbook and resold them as comicbook ‘cards’ at a handsome profit to a neighbor kid.  And for ice cream money, I wrote Monstrous.

One job no one had bothered me about for ages was when shortly before going to college, I helped an old lady with her manuscript maybe three months.  Wanting to relieve myself of the burden of having to come up with an address and phone number to associate with her, I looked her up on Google, and learned she had passed away eight years after I’d known her, at age 94.  I had stumbled upon her obituary, and it was there I was made aware of a factual error in Monstrous.  Surely the obituary was correct, especially given its presumption of accuracy down to the month, that my former employer’s husband was nine years, two months her junior, not the seventeen I had claimed:

Mrs. Walgren needed help organizing her papers as her husband was away. Her even having a husband would be made to seem less improbable if you realized the guy was seventeen years her junior, although they’d been together fifty years.

Come to think of it, I don’t know if the fifty years total is correct either; I couldn’t bear to read further after I saw my mistake.

I have pulled Monstrous from the shelves before, actually twice before, to make a series of corrections/improvements, mostly not regarding material errors but a few have been in the mix. It is likely a good thing for my peace of mind that most of what I have written is not verifiable, because the few times I’ve had double-checkable facts have indicated to me that my memory has not been the greatest at the level of fine details. Instead of knowing I’ve screwed up in a hundred places (or is a better figure a thousand?), I can maybe come up with six, all since corrected, except for this latest one.

Something said by a reader of mine that I wish hadn’t made Monstrous Quotables:

“I don’t believe he remembers half the things he said he did as a child”

My first thought about this person was ‘What an impoverished mind’, to think that my memory could be so strong as to discredit me. We on the autistic spectrum (a scoop even for those who’ve read my book) are known for our prodigious memories, and there are harder core autistics who run circles around mine.

A later thought, sadly however, is maybe this girl was right. That’s how bad my percentage has been against belatedly known facts. Though I think I was being accused of lying, rather than having a mind that plays tricks.

A curious aside about this girl from New Zealand (or was it merely close to New Zealand), was that she had a sister (or was it a female cousin) who also read my book, and both of them gave me only one star because zero was not an option. At that stage of the game it was a rarity to be received back-to-back so poorly, because it used to be I was more consistently reaching my narrower market. It got me to wondering if there was something ‘in the water’ of these two closely intertwined lives that apparently made them think so alike, against the grain of the world at large.


April 21, 2012 - Posted by | Monstrous | , , , ,

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