Caren Lissner


Grocery stores always give me a bag when I don't need one, when I've bought just a pack of gum or a banana or some potato chips that are in a bag already, and then I feel guilty about their wasting the plastic, but the bag is on before I've noticed them reaching for it so I don't say anything. But in the video store, on the other hand, they always ask if I want a bag, and even though, theoretically, I should be able to carry my video without a bag, and the bag is another waste of plastic, I always need a bag at the video store because, for reasons that will soon be understood, I believe all videos should be sheathed. I'm only half a block out of the store when I see Ronald, the rice-haired milquetoast who works at the coffee shop around the corner, approaching. "Hey, Carrie," he says, looking down at my video. "What'd you get?"

Uh oh. I have to give this speech again.

"I can't tell you," I say, "and there's a reason I can't. You see, someday, I might want to rent something embarrassing, and I don't necessarily mean porn; it could be a movie that's considered too childish for my age or something violent or maybe Nazi propaganda - for research purposes, of course - and even though the movie I have in my hand is considered a classic, and nothing to be ashamed of, if I show it to you this time, but next time I can't, then you'll know for sure that I'm hiding something next time. But if I never tell you what I've rented, it puts enough doubt in your mind that I'm hiding something, so I can feel free to rent porn or cartoons or fascist propaganda or whatever I want without fear of having to reveal what I've rented.

"The same goes for what I'm reading. I want to be able to pick a mindless novel as well as Dostoevsky. And I also want to be able to choose something no one's heard of. Most of the time, people say, 'What are you reading?' and if I tell them the name of the book and it's not Moby Dick, they've never heard of it so I have to give an explanation, and if the book's any good it's not something I can explain in two seconds, so I'm stuck giving a 25-page dissertation and by the time I'm done I have no time to finish reading. So books I read and movies I rent are off limits for discussion. It's nothing personal."

Ronald stands there blinking for a second, then leaves.

My rules make sense to me, but people find them strange. Still, I need them to survive. This world isn't one I understand completely, and it doesn't understand me completely, either.

People think I'm odd for a 19-year-old girl - or woman, if you're technical - that I neither act excessively young or excessively "girlish." In truth, I feel asexual a lot of the time, like a walking brain with glasses and long dark hair and a mouth in good working order. If we were to talk about sex as in sex, as opposed to gender - as everyone seems to want to these days - I would say that my mind's not on sex that much, and I was never boy-crazy when I was younger. Which makes me different from just about everyone. I did have crushes on two of my professors in college, one of which actually turned into something, but that's a story for later on....

Carrie Pilby Harlequin Teen edition
2010 Harlequin Teen edition
Carrie Pilby (original)
2003 American edition
Carrie Pilby (original)
2003 Australian edition
Carrie Pilby (original)
Starting From Square Two (2004)
Carrie Pilby (original)
Scenes From A Holiday (2005)

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