Beyond the Bio - 16 Things Very Few People Know about Deborah Davis
BEYOND THE BIO

Things Very Few People Know About Me

1. When I was eight years old, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder and live in all those little houses in the woods and on the prairies. I wanted to eat maple syrup on snow and feel thrilled when I got my very own tin cup for Christmas. Then I got a pair of white Go-Go boots and wanted to be one of those women dancing in cages on the teen dance shows on television. But I still wanted to be Laura, too. It was very confusing.
2. In middle school, I used to telephone strangers and say, “Guess who?” When the person responded with a name, I’d say “Right! How are you?” and I’d pretend to be whomever they named. Sometimes I was able to fool the other person for several minutes, until I hung up laughing or the person on the other end of the line hung up, totally furious.
3. For decades I thought the line “there’s a bad moon on the rise” in John Fogerty’s song “Bad Moon Rising” was “there’s a bathroom on the right.”
4. When I was 21, I spent three weeks on a cross-country skiing expedition in northern Minnesota, with temperatures as low as 45 degrees below zero and never higher than 4 above. Every night I woke up cold and needing to pee. I’d jump out of my two sleeping bags and into my boots, run a few feet from our tarp, relieve myself, and leap back into my bags, shivering. One night, though, I dreamed that I’d woken, gotten up, and was sitting on the toilet. In the dream I made double sure that I was sitting on the toilet. And then I peed. And then I woke up, in a very wet sleeping bag.
5. My first car was a 1970 Volkswagen Squareback that I bought in 1978 for $700 and named Little Blue. I also bought a box full of tools, spare spark plugs and fan belts, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Volkswagen Repair. I did all my own tune-ups and most of the thousands of repairs that car required, and I have scarred knuckles to prove it. When Little Blue’s engine died in 1980, I rebuilt it with the help of a mechanic in Santa Fe, where I lived at the time. Since I sold Little Blue in 1983, I’ve never even changed the oil on a car of mine. Must have gotten my “mechanic phase” out of my system.
6. I talk to my cats. But, hey, doesn’t everybody?
7. Once during a wilderness training swim test, I had to jump into 45-degree water during a rain storm, swim 30 feet, dive down 10 feet, and grab a rock off the bottom of the Maine ocean floor. Lungs bursting, head pounding, I reached the bottom and frantically grabbed for something—and speared my fingertips on a spiny sea urchin. I came up gasping for air with only a few grains of sand in my other hand, sure that I’d failed and ready to tell those sadistic trainers where they could go with their stupid swim test, but before I could catch my breath, they passed me.
8. I like to sing at the top of my lungs when I’m driving alone, especially to Indigo Girls and Shawn Colvin’s songs. What a great feeling to belt out

You act like a baby, you talk like a fool

Get out of this house

Go back to your mama, go back to high school

Get out of this house.

(Shawn Colvin, “Get Out of This House,” A Few Small Repairs)

Or, if I’m feeling a little more reflective,

Sometimes I see the half and not the whole

Sometimes I see the face and not the soul

Sometimes I think this place has no part

For anyone who ever had a heart.

(Shawn Colvin, “New Thing Now.” A Few Small Repairs)

When I’m tired of the radio and CD, I make up my own songs to sing. I will never,
ever sing those to anybody. Except maybe to my cats.

9. I’m very good at housekeeping. The reason most people don’t know this is that I don’t do it very often. But when I do, I’m very good at it.
10. One of my best birthday parties involved inviting a group of close women friends to the beach, where I led them in a writing workshop. I know, that’s totally dorky, but I had a great time and my friends claimed they did too.
11. I had an ecstatic experience with chocolate at 4:00 AM on the side of Mt. Kilimanjaro, at an altitude of about 18,000 feet. I have been unable to recreate that experience at lower altitudes, though I’ve tried. Repeatedly.
12. I get a kick out of reading the Darwin Awards.
13. While rafting through the Grand Canyon last summer with a group of friends and family, I had an opportunity to jump off a 20-foot cliff into a gorgeous pool of water. I refused to jump, and I was the only grown-up in the group to chicken out.
14. My favorite New Yorker cartoon shows two snails looking at a tape dispenser that looks an awful lot like a snail. One snail is saying to the other, “I don’t care if she is a tape dispenser. I love her.” (Cartoon by S. Gross.)
15. I love films with Jack Black.
16. If I could be an animal for a day, I’d be a porpoise or a seal or maybe one of those penguins that likes to slide down the ice into freezing Antarctic water just for fun.

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