Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Stole A Line from Suzanne Vega

I have this story in Hobart called "My Hand, Dead Tissue, Severed at the Wrist". There's a line in there that reads, "I bloodied a nose and kicked one girl so hard in the gut that she made a sound like two babies had fallen out of her." I had been thinking about this line, having read it somewhere as a teenager, for many, many years, just waiting for the chance to use it.
Just recently, I was trying to remember where I'd stolen that line, where it had come from. And I found it. Suzanne Vega wrote it for an article in Details Magazine. It's an awesome essay, called "Fighting". It's basically a child's list of rules for fighting. Holy god, tell me this section isn't amazing:
Girls are crazy and mean. They don't fight fair. Fighting fair means hard, tight fists and regular punches. But girls will slap, bit, pinch, pull your hair, rip the buttons off your shirt and the earrings out of your ears. There are no rules in fights with girls. Just hurting.
The one exception was the fight with Carla W., when she challenged me. We never even touched each other. I just stood there staring at her as she wound herself down, and she eventually began speaking nonsense. "I'll kick you in the guts and two babies will fall out!" Eventually the crowd around us began to laugh, and I won.
In high schol, I read Details all the time because I was obsessed with how to comb my hair and I liked looking at men wearing suits, which seemed like the strangest attire in the world at the time. Now, I can clearly remember reading this essay, and I can clearly remember wanting to marry Suzanne Vega. So, sorry for taking that line, Suzanne, but I could not help myself.


K. Wilson said...

Thinking about this more, I feel a little worse. I had not realized, all this time, how close I was to the original line. I have a fear that Suzanne Vega, googling herself, will see this and be super pissed off. That would make me feel very sick. I had hoped that my memory would have gotten the number of babies wrong or replaced "gut" with "stomach" but I guess there's no getting away with the fact that I took Vega's line. And I'm amazed that I could have read this in '95 and basically kept it precisely in my mind for more than a decade.

Mike C. said...

It wasn't intentional. I'm sure she'd be flattered that something she wrote stayed in your brain for that long. I bet she doesn't remember the line as well as you do.

pb said...

I'm with Mike C. She would be flattered.
Also- belated congrats on the shirley jackson- I really hope you win--and also on the wigleaf nods. I just read the moon's face darkened- really, really good stuff.
I steal lyrics from songs and put them in my stories. I don't think that's bad. Maybe I'm wrong. I've taken lines from PJ Harvey, Juliana Hatfield and Paul Westerberg. I guess I feel if it's in a totally different context, than its OK.

3cats said...

Yo K! Tony here. . love this revelation of yours. . I remember reading Details too. .especially an issue with Trent Reznor. Awesome that you remembered this all these years later.

Two said...

I love Suzanne vega. Haven't heard anything of hers for ages. Hooray for her and hooray for pillaging lyrics with attribution.