Story behind the story: Paul Heinz’s The Missing Ingredient

The story behind the story “The Missing Ingredient”


A transcription of a conversation with my therapist, July 2012

Therapist: So in summary, what you seem to be saying is that you’re still holding onto the humiliation you felt as a teenager.

Me:  Well, duh. Isn’t everyone?

T:  No, not really.  Many people are able to, in time, embrace their childhoods.  You can get there too.

Me: No fricking way.  There is no way you’re going to tell me that I’ll be able to embrace the time I offered to carry Brittney Wright’s books, and she told me I was too scrawny.

T: You asked a girl to carry her books?  What decade were you living in?

Me: Um . . .well . . .

T: Cuz seriously, that sounds like something straight out of Leave it to Beaver.  You must have struck out a lot in high school, huh?

Me: Well, yeah.  In dating, and, um. . .baseball, too, I guess.  Other stuff.  Can we change topics?

T: You know, maybe your right.  I’m not sure I can help you to embrace your childhood.  Unless . . .

Me: Unless what?  Doc, you gotta help me!  My face breaks out at the mention of tater tots.  I panic when I have to unhook a bra, even when no one’s wearing it!  For the love of all that’s holy, what should I do?

T: Write about it.

Me: Write about it!  That’s brilliant!  I’ll write a short story, get it published and parlay that into a novel, and it’ll beat out John Green for the “Awesome Kickass Young-Adult Novel of the Year” award.

T: Um. . .yeah, if that’s the extent of your vocabulary, you might want to. . .

Me: Too late, Mr. Therapist.  I’m ready.  I’m ready to reveal the suckiness of teenagedom in all its glory!

Check out SUCKER writer Kathleen Ingraham’s story behind the story, “A Little Bit of Sunshine”

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