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Ghost writer might scare off customers.

Byline: Sid McKeen

COLUMN: WRY & GINGER

It occurred to me one day that I might make a few bucks ghost-writing autobiographies for people too busy or too estranged from the English language to write their own. As luck would have it, my first client was a real loser, but I took him on anyway. Here's his story, warts and all:

I started drinking wine when I was still in kindergarten, and it's had a Ripple effect on my life ever since.

The only thing I had on my mind in the first grade was a dunce cap, and they didn't have one in my size, which gave me a big head. That and the hooch. It was about then that I smoked my first cigarette. Later, I tried to kick the habit, but all I managed to do was fracture a toe. I soon found myself at a fork in the road. I decided to take the road to the left and it quickly turned out to be a dead end.

Fourth grade was a big success, though. I learned how to spell catte, and got a one-word comment from the teacher on my report card. "Bully," it said. Somebody explained that was a British word for "good work." We were poor but pious. My father said grace before every meal because that was my mother's name. "Grace," he'd say, "is this all there is to eat?" Our address was Moved, Left No Forwarding Address. My only toy was a suitcase. I asked for a puppy but had to make do with the mice in our apartment.

In fifth grade, we learned the names of all the state capitals, something that proved to be very helpful in later life. Now, when anybody asks me what's the capital of Massachusetts, which they often do, of course, I'm able to answer proudly, "It's M."

In sixth grade, we got to know about other countries such as India, which was full of Indians when Columbus landed there looking for the spice of life and a new route to Indianapolis. Also countries such as Paris and Chicago. And Africa, which is mostly below the Ecuador.

I didn't go back to school that fall. I figured I already knew pretty much all there was to know, and now that I was 21, it seemed like time to find a good-paying job. I was tired of paying for the drugs I was using with money ripped off from breaking into people's houses. For one thing, it meant staying up all hours of the night and missing a lot of cool stuff on TV like my favorite, the education channel.

Surprisingly enough, finding work wasn't easy. First of all, some said we were like in the middle of a remission I think they call it, and a lot of companies weren't hiring anybody. Then, even though I wore my new bright pink wig for interviews, some employers were picky about my appearance or my school record or my drug busts or some technicality like the fact that I couldn't spell the name of the company on my job application. Well, no wonder they're having so much trouble with their businesses if that's the kind of stuff they get shook up about.

Anyways, here's hoping there's somebody out there willing to take a chance on a guy down on his luck but not afraid of a little hard work. I'm willing to do anything - quantum physics, biochemical engineering, psychoanalysis, brain surgery or you-name-it. You've got to start somewhere.

There you have it - my first ghosted autobiography. I hope my next customer is a winner. But then I suppose, winners don't need much help with their autobiographies.

You can't win.

Reach Sid McKeen at mckeensidney@gmail.com.
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Title Annotation:COMMENTARY
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 16, 2011
Words:628
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