Doesn’t Everyone Do These Things?

One thing that’s confused and challenged me about people’s reactions to The Tattooed Heart is that many of my friends, people who I feel “at one with,” find Gracie to be sort of… other.

In a sermon that draws on The Tattooed Heart; a book on Christianity by Diana Butler Bass; and 1 Thessalonians 5: 19, The Rev. Dr. June Goudey (my friend of 40 years) said,

Reading Kaye, I often said, “Oh my God!”  I couldn’t believe what I was reading, but I couldn’t stop reading it either.

In her reader review on, Karen Rancourt, a blogger and coach I admire tremendously, wrote,

When I started reading, I wasn’t sure I was going to care about Grace and her life — as a coddled child of suburbia, it was easy for me to view her as yet another stupid woman making stupid choices.

These, and other similar reactions, have been surprising to me, because Gracie, her world, and her choices are as present and inevitable to me as my own.

And I keep thinking about the experiences that made it so; thinking doesn’t everybody do these things? 

  • Isn’t everybody’s high school yearbook picture an art shot of them smoking a joint?
  • Doesn’t everybody go-go dance in a strip club at some point in their lives (as I did in 1969, with my friend Michelle, who stayed there as a waitress for years)?
  • Doesn’t everybody hitch to Mexico with five bucks in their pocket when they have that “I need to get out of town” feeling?

And why am I so surprised when the answer to those questions turns out to be no?

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