From the million-copy bestselling author of Running with Scissors comes Augusten Burroughs's most provocative collection yet. This book is approved for consumption by those seeking pleasure, escape, amusement, enlightenment, or general distraction. This book is not approved to treat disorders such as eBay addiction or incessant blind dating. In studies, some people reported inappropriate, convulsive laughter, a tingling sensation in the limbs, and sudden gasping. Fewer than 1 percent reported narcolepsy. Doll collectors may experience special sensitivity, as may discourteous drivers, candy-company brand managers, and nicotine-gum users. This book has been shown to be especially helpful to those with parents, grandparents, life partners, and incontinent dogs. People with dry, cracked skin have responded well to this book, as have people with certain heart conditions. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this book, until you know what effects it may have on you. This text is contraindicated in those suffering from certain psychiatric disorders, including---but not limited to---readers afflicted with anhedonia, which is the inability to experience pleasure. Ask your doctor about Possible Side Effects
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St. Martin's Press
April 15, 2007
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Excerpt from Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs
The first time I was star-struck, the object of my affection was a glamorous Eastern Airlines stewardess. She had towering blond hair, frosted blue eyelids, and was well into her twenties. I was eight. We were thrown together when my parents put me on a flight by myself to Lawrenceville, Georgia, to visit my wealthy grandparents.
"I call them by their first names, Jack and Carolyn," I told her with pride. "They're my father's parents. And my grandmother wears lots of jewelry, just like you."
"Aren't you precious?" the flight attendant said.
I smiled because I loved the name, precious. It reminded me of precious stones like rubies and emeralds and diamonds. And even semiprecious stones, like onyx, which was the black stone men wore, and the ugliest one of all.
The flight attendant returned to the kitchen, and I looked out the window, happy to see the mundane "North" pass by, far below me. As the only member of my family for generations born above the Mason-Dixon line, I was fascinated by the impossibly exotic South.
Like, instead of dirty, gray squirrels, my grandparents had Technicolor peacocks on their lawn. And while we got hateful blizzards in the winter, my grandparents got yet more sunshine. I found it impossible to believe that snow did not cover the world but here was proof.
Though this became an annual trip for me, my grandfather traveled a lot, so I never spent much time with him. And he was gruff, so when he was around I was frightened and avoided him.
But my grandmother spent every minute with me. And I adored her.
Carolyn was blond and wore minks. She had gigantic jade and diamond rings on nearly every finger. And a gold charm bracelet that made a soft tinkle sound when she waved her hands in the air. At night, she slipped into a nightgown with fur trim along the neck and at the hem. And even her slippers had high heels. I thought she was beautiful, like a movie star.
Only when she leaned in very close to me and I saw through her thick pancake makeup to the deep lines beneath did I become slightly alarmed. Old people had always scared me a little. And while my grandmother certainly wasn't old from a distance, she seemed brittle when you looked at her very closely. Sometimes when she kissed me on the forehead at night, I flinched, worried a piece of her might chip off and stick to me.
The summer I turned seven the tooth on my upper left side became loose. And I spent the afternoon worrying it with my finger.
"Honey, just let that tooth come out all on its own accord. Don't force it before it's ready," my grandmother said.
"But Carolyn, it's almost ready. It's just about to come out."
"Well, sweetie. Just let it be. It'll come out. And then do you know what to do?" she asked.
We were sitting on iron garden chairs in her glass sunroom. I was watching television and Carolyn was paging through a mail-order catalogue, licking her fingers and then dog-earring the corners of certain pages.
"Do when?" I said.
"Do you know what to do when your tooth falls out?" she asked, smiling at me.
I didn't understand what she was asking me. Was there something I had to do?
"Call the police?" I guessed.
She laughed in her gentle, though somewhat mischievous way. "No, you don't call the police, silly. Don't you know about the Tooth Fairy?"
"Honey," she said, now concerned. She placed her catalogue on her lap and leaned forward. "The Tooth Fairy? You know about the Tooth Fairy. How could you not? You're seven years old. Surely, you know about the Tooth Fairy."
I felt bad, like I'd done something wrong. "No," I said in a small voice.