Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Sex and Other Sins

I kept sinning despite my best efforts

As soon as I was old enough to know I should be good, I knew I was not. Much of this fear and guilt came from my grandmother, whom I called Meme. I remember seeing the same fear, much intensified, on her face when, much later, she lay dying. She could not be consistently good either.

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Hurry Back!

I wandered in as though I’d been there many times before

When I was a freshman at Vanderbilt, 18 years old, I heard a rumor that there was a market down on Elliston Place that would sell beer to you, even if you were underage, as long as you were cool about it. It was called the Hurry Back Market, and I was underage.

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Nesting

On the mystery of mothering

This spring, thinning my garden beds overfull with hellebores, the early- and long-blooming Lenten rose, I accidently exposed a rabbit’s nest. It was the first I’d ever seen. I gently pulled back the top layer of gray fluff — then the scream. A humanlike scream of innermost fear.

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The Sucker

You can learn a lot from a poker game

I was 18 and about to be the first Vargo to leave Detroit for any reason other than war, thanks to a student loan, a Pell grant, and the gift of an academic probation program that gave kids like me one semester to prove our scholarly worth or go back to wherever it was we came from. I felt so smart.

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Must Not Love Dogs

On love and uncomfortable nostalgia

When I tell people I don’t want a dog, they inevitably look at me like I’m a psychopath. I get it. Anti-dog people are nuts. They’re curmudgeons who probably also hate baby smiles, freshly baked cookies, and Betty White. I tell these folks it’s because I’m just too lazy to have a dog, but that’s a lie. It’s because I had the perfect dog once, and she was the one.

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