I am Sarah Cannibal. The Sarah Cannibal. Or that Sarah Cannibal.
I’m really only the alter-ego of this funky little outfit, but it doesn’t make me any less able to kick your ass if I need to.
And I’m finally ready to tell you about myself.
I emerged–as do many alter-egos, imaginary friends, fictional characters, and alternate personalities–during a time of mental and spiritual flux–as a sort of emotional body guard, a partner in crime, a borrowed set of eyes to look at the world–kind of an idealized golem, you might say. My creator is the “Creative Sort”. But you’d never know it by looking at her–she looks like any solid, freckle-faced Midwestern farm girl–all forthright and practical and fair-minded and reasonable. Or she’s trying to be. I don’t have to be. Anyway, she’s busy doing all that shit and I’m taking over this little job.
Unlike most of her other fictional characters and friends, my creator–who I refer to as “the other Sarah”–and I are, in fact, distant relations. Our people are from old, Southern gothic stock: revolutionary rabble rousers with bounties on their heads, restless, prescient Cherokee women and runaway slaves with nothing to lose. That much is mostly true. Her side of the family moved on and never discussed who they were or where they’d come from; mine stayed where we didn’t have to explain ourselves to anyone. We drank heavy, told outrageous lies just to fuck with Yankees, and waited on the front porch for the South to rise again–which, if you’re new to the term, is a very slow-paced spectator sport.I was born in the Carolina Up-Country–in a place you’ve probably never heard of–not even as fancy Columbia or Greenville–though Mother and her sisters were all Aiken debutantes. My grandmoter was properly appalled when her youngest daughter up and ran off with the likes of Daddy, who she only referred to as “that crippled little question mark-man.” Daddy had been a steeplechase jock when he was younger. Obviously, he wasn’t very tall to begin with, but then he had the accident that left him bent over as a shepherd’s crook.
Mother had never been much to look at herself, though: she was notably tall for a woman and built like a brick shithouse, as the saying goes–with those glasses that make your eyes look like a pair of goldfish in bowls. She always had that look of an animal in the headlights, right before you whomp it. She wasn’t like that at all, you must understand, but people were inclined to think she was. Which always ended badly for them. She could dent the front end of a Mack trck with one word.
And me? I’m 6 feet tall and built like a scarecrow that was stuffed by a palsied postman. My brothers and sister all took after Mother’s side of the family: blond and blue-eyed; I took after Daddy’s, for which my grandmother gave me what she calls my “Indian Name”: “Squaw-Who-Looks-Like-Elvis”. She was always making up nicknames that were longer than people’s christian names.
Mother and Daddy owned a sporting outfitters and tack store. I liked the store–and not only because my sister and I could steal stuff for our horses, but because it smelled like leather and stuff that had been wrapped in plastic so it always sort of smelled like Christmas.
But my mother made us take sewing lessons: makin aprons and smocking and crocheting and all the rest of it. Of course, we hated every stitch intensely. At the time, anyway. Mrs. Binchy was the teacher and her daughters, Mary and Karen, were those goody-goody types who sewed perfectly but the shit they made was just. always. so. fucking. ugly–lime green double-knit polyester and rust orange flowery velvet. .
I’m sure we deserved it because we were probably such little bitches, but Mrs. Binchy, bless her heart, really didn’t like us. Bless her heart.
One week, I found my grandmother’s old sewing basket, though. There were all these half-finished doilies and little embroidered shit. I totally showed it to Mrs. Binchy and said it was mine. Score. Most improved sewer!
And that is how I learned to cheat at sewing.
Sure. I can do all that stuff. But why? When you can always find stuff that’s already made! Better! Cheaper! Thrift stores are full of stuff that other people have made! Sure, they might be out of style and stained and ugly. But you cut out the good stuff: the buttons, the lace trim, the excellent cashmere fabric.
It’s the same way you can cheat at anything: steal it, tear it apart and put it back together so it wouldn’t be recognized by its closest relations.
So Is that cheating? To see something beautiful or useful in the midst of something crappy and salvage out those parts for something else? Like taking little bits from all of one’s ex-lovers and combining them all into a single character in your novel. And kicking his ass from cover to cover. Or to create an alter ego to take over your blogging duties?