This seemingly contradictory concoction made for an epic girl crush to say the least. In fact, in a true Single White Female way, I began to tailor myself to be a mini-Carrie out of a desperate need to emulate this goddess of cool, the kind of cool that could manipulate grown-ups with her sweet and innocent face while secretly planning to lock away her charges so that she could watch soft-core porn on basic cable at an ungodly early hour.
Of course, it was out of this platonic love fest that led me straight into the literary arms of VC Andrews and her incredibly fucked up mind, which, to this day, I believe screwed up all my romantic entanglements.
You see, Ms. Andrews wrote books about family love and not in a good wholesome way. What we’re talking about is when a brother and a sister (or, in some cases, an uncle and a niece) look at each other and think, “You know, I’m gonna bang the hell out of you” without any sort of revulsion at all.
And here was Carrie, my hero, sitting on my couch, in my living room, reading a book that was so adult that she would immediately put it down whenever I was in the room (which was very brief as we were usually playing a game she invented called, “Don’t Come In Here and Bother Me”).
The desire to find out about the mysterious book was intoxicating. Why did she hide it from me? Was it a “bad” book? Would she let me read it if I promised to never come out of my room when she was here? I decided to try and be like her by peppering her with innocent questions.
Me: What are you reading?
Carrie: A book.
Me: Is it good?
Carrie: I’m reading it aren’t I?
Me: Is this something I might enjoy?
Carrie: What’s wrong with you? Did I tell you that you could come out of your room? Quit being so creepy.
Me: I’m sorry, I will leave at once.
My questioning had failed but at least I had been able to make out the title of the book, My Sweet Audrina, and see that she had gotten from the library from the sticker on the spine. As I turned to go back into my bedroom I formulated my plan. Tomorrow I would go and seek out this book and, in doing so, become ever closer to molding myself as a Carrie.
Wow. I really was a bit creepy.
And so, as the following morning was birthed into existence, I found myself waiting outside the public library for it to open armed with nothing more than a book title and a willingness to read. As the bitterly angry librarian unlocked the doors, I rushed passed her and up the stairs to the adult book section and straight to the card catalog (The Card Catalog: a non-computerized piece of furniture stuffed full of index-like cards containing the location of books in the library. It was like the internet without the ease of access to porn).
Upon locating the whereabouts of one Ms. Andrews, I made my way over to the section stealthily as I was but an eleven year old and had no business being among these tomes of adulthood. Running my eyes down the alphabetically categorized authors, I spotted her and her mass market paperbacks filled with stories that would make me awesome like my beloved babysitter. I reached up and grabbed a copy of Flowers In the Attic from the shelf and hid it against my chest. Yes! I thought, as I nonchalantly went back down the steps toward the children’s section, I did it; I am reading a dangerous book! And, in a very Carrie way, I decided to hide my book among a few Beverly Cleary titles thinking that the librarian would never notice it (she didn’t) when I checked out.
It was my first attempt at being evilly good and had gone swimmingly.
Back home I dove into the story only to be confronted by a plotline that included imprisoning children in an attic, poisoning them, and then forcing siblings to become unnaturally attracted to one another. As I waded through the unsubtle subtext, I formed my first literary-based emotional epiphany: Love=desperation. That revelation felt monumental, like somehow I was given access to the inner workings of adulthood and that I had unlocked some secret. I repeated the phrase Love=desperation like a mantra, over and over again, trying to lock it down so that someday, when I found that perfect guy, I would know what love would feel like.
Of course, the fact that this information would later become the bane of my romantic life or that it was wrapped up inside a blanket of incest never occurred to me. Had I been able to project myself into the future and witness my countless relationships where the phrase How do I know he likes me unless he makes me cry should have been needle pointed on a pillow, I might have stopped reading VC Andrews and picked up, say, a copy of the The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan instead.
But no, once finished with Flowers in the Attic I moved on to the rest of her titles including the instigator of all of this, My Sweet Audrina. A book about a nine-year-old who was gang raped in the woods and then had her mind screwed with by her parents until she believed that she was the younger sister of a dead girl WHO SHE WAS NAMED AFTER! She then proceeded to fall in love with a boy who she later learned was there during the rape, and, after finding out who she really is, she falls into a coma from shock, and listens as the boy (who is now her husband) has sex with her cousin (who is really her sister) and who is plotting her death.
Oh yeah, Audrina also has a younger sister that is mentally challenged who likes to push people down the stairs, killing them.
And I wonder why I have issues…
So, should I blame Carrie for all of this madness that embedded itself into me at such a young age due to the influence of these books? Absolutely.
Except, that part of me is happy that I read such smut. From it I learned the subtleties of manipulation and seduction as well as the fact that if something is so very wrong, it’ll probably feel really good. Hence, my predilection for all things that will ultimately ruin me.
I guess in the end, reading through the Andrews oeuvre was my way of carving out a little bit of evil in the conservative world of white-bread suburbia and I have to thank Carrie for that, even if she was the catalyst in fueling my insatiable need for horrific literature involving slutty women.
Hmmm…thinking of slutty women, I wonder what Carrie’s reading now?