Joy Kettren

(after How I Knew Harold by Deborah Harding)

Around 1973        
A private plane crashes into the Zimmermans’ house on the corner of our street. 
Mr. Zimmerman and the pilot are killed. I feel guilty and elated because this makes me
a celebrity at school for 2 weeks.

Around 1962       
My brother proudly tells everyone that his baby sister’s first "word" is Da, and it refers
to him, not my father, as my parents originally thought.

Around 2008     
Dave tells me he wants to get married. I tell him I’m not ready for commitment. He leaves.

Around 1977    
I stop my algebra teacher, Mr. Pickering, from hitting a golden retriever puppy that ran
through the door with a group of students. Mr. Pickering is put on probation for
"inappropriate conduct unbecoming of a faculty member." He gives me a "D" and
places me in a remedial algebra group the following summer.

Around 1990     
Mike and I are engaged.  During a visit with my mother, she says she thinks he isn’t
commitment-minded. I tell her she couldn’t be more wrong and walk out, slamming
the door. Mike breaks it off 2 months later.

Around 1966    
My brother and his friends laugh when I trip over a toy tractor and break my arm. 
My mother tells me later at the hospital that I should have watched where I was going.

Around 1982   
My mother is forced to retire, and keeps the balloons she was given at the party. 
They are flat and dusty, lying in a corner of the living room for a year and a half.

Around 1974  
My friend Kathy imitates Miss Heiss, the librarian who extends her pinky every time
she adjusts her glasses. Miss Heiss sees her and sends us both to the principal’s office.

Around 2007 
My car is totaled when a pick-up truck runs a red light. The older woman who was driving
seems too shaken to speak. Her husband apologizes and tells me she should have watched where she was going.

Around 1992   
My mother asks me to go to the cemetery with her to purchase a plot for my father’s urn,
which she’s kept on the shelf in the front closet for 20 years, next to his fedora.

Around 2000  
Mike calls to tell me he is now ready for commitment. I tell him about my recent
engagement to Chris. He hangs up. Chris ends the engagement 3 months later, saying
he’s still working through intimacy issues with his therapist of 5 years.






Wwhen I read Deborah Harding’s How I Met Harold, I loved the unique formatting, and started thinking of significant events in my life that would go into a similar piece. I realized that many things that have happened have fit the mold of a woman who is "always a bridesmaid, never the bride."