Colleen Powers is a writer and editor living in Minneapolis.

Author Photo

For my commute to a temp job these past couple of months, I’ve been listening to celebrity memoirs — they’re the easiest audiobooks to drop into for 20- to 45-minute stretches, plus they’re usually read by the author. All of my recommendations on Audible are now for similar memoirs, so in browsing I see page after page of semi-famous to very famous people staring up with confidence or bemusement from their covers, titles that are pithy and punny and that usually come with a colon and a subtitle.

It reminded me of one of my more specific youthful fantasies, born of something that happened the summer I was 15 and attended piano camp. One of my fellow campers, a kid named Patrick from suburban Chicago, was goofy and immature and kind of obnoxious. But on Thursday night of that week, during the camper talent show, he stepped onto stage wearing a harmonica around his neck, sat down at the Steinway, and proceeded to sing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” while accompanying himself on both piano and harmonica. It’s hard now to explain the appeal of “Piano Man” as performed by a skinny teenager who’s hamming it up shamelessly — he changed the song’s lyrics from “It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday” to “It’s a pretty good crowd for a talent show” — but I was sitting in the front row and I was transfixed.

Afterward, I was sure that Patrick would sooner or later become a household name, and I wanted to be right there with him when it happened. But my crush on him — or my crush on his talent, or my envy of his talent? — manifested as me fantasizing about being married to him and then writing a memoir about our marriage. It would be called “Being Mrs. [Patrick’s Last Name]” or “Being Mrs. [Name of Patrick’s Biggest Hit, Which in This Fantasy Has Become a Ubiquitous and Acclaimed Number-One Single]” and I would be wearing some kind of stylish outfit on the cover, like maybe a cool pantsuit. People browsing in Barnes and Noble would see me gazing out wryly from the cover, leaning against a desk or a chair and cocking my head to the side.

I guess all of this is to say that while I no longer anticipate writing a memoir, I deeply covet Lena Dunham’s author photo.


Stick the Landing