I despise tired and overused clichés just about as much as I hate Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Ron Artest—excuse me, Metta World Peace, and random sports metaphors, but I guess I’ll make an exception just this once. Here goes: I’ve crossed one item off of my—ugh–bucket list.
I have written a novel.
Every small town, I believe, has its quirks, its idiosyncrasies, its colorful characters, and gossip a-plenty, at least I think so. I’ve only lived in one small town in my lifetime, and that town was Linesville, Pennsylvania.
A few people with whom I was acquainted with still live there; many others have no idea who I am, who my parents were, and really wouldn’t care anyway. And that’s how it should be.
But for a few decades in the latter half of the 20th century, anybody who went to Linesville-Conneaut-Summit High School couldn’t help but to have known my parents. In a present day educational milieu where school principals are shuffled around more often than Peyton Manning calls audibles, it’s rare to find a high school principal whose tenure lasted as long as my father’s did.
Linesville put up with my father as its high school principal for twenty years; my mother as its girls’ physical education teacher for nearly as long. My brother, sister, and I were literally brought up inside of that school, and if I close my eyes, I can still remember every hallway, every nook and cranny, every smell—sweaty locker rooms, redolent ditto machines, the cafeteria after Johnny Marzetti days, the cigarette smoke in the lobby during halftime at the basketball games, even the smell of the tall countertop in the school office where I would lay sprawled out, drawing pictures of cheerleaders and horses, while Myrna kept an eye on me until my mum and dad were ready to leave school and take me home with them.
Once I decided to leave teaching and do something—anything—else, I figured it was time for me to write a novel. Lord knows I’ve read enough novels to get the gist of what goes into writing one, or so I thought.
Writers are always told, “Write about what you know.” So I did. I wrote about a small town, its quirks, its idiosyncrasies, and its colorful characters. Oh, and there’s plenty of gossip.
In doing so, I had to be careful to not only protect my family’s privacy, but the privacy of the town that I will always call home. I believe I have. My family has many secrets, and my town has many more. However, you won’t read about any of those secrets in The Gym Show.
I would derive absolutely no satisfaction out of exposing anyone’s dirty laundry, and I would never disrespect the town that gave me and my family so much during our time there by hanging it all out to dry.
The Gym Show is a work of fiction. Some of the characters were inspired by real people, but if you’re looking for traces of yourself or shadows of events you may have been a part of during your time there, you won’t find them here.
I can’t wait for you to read it.