Bad Kisser by Marianne Mandrusiak
2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist
Marianne Mandrusiak has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Bad Kisser.
The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 24. The winner will be announced on Oct. 1.
Marianne Mandrusiak is a writer, comedian and yoga teacher living in Montreal. When she isn't working or chasing after her toddlers, she's trying to get to the bottom of the question, "Why the heck are we here, anyway?" You can often find her doing stand-up at the Comedy Nest or working on a collection of short stories to be published in the near future.
Entry in five-ish words
"A wrong of passage."
The story's source of inspiration
"I was reflecting on a memory that I felt a lot of shame around as a child. I realized I could still very clearly hear my inner 9-year-old's account of the event, along with her insecurities, preconceived notions of the world and her attempts, and sometimes failures, at showing kindness. As an adult, I have tremendous empathy for 'Jake;' after all, he was just a kid too, one that wasn't taught the importance of consent, in an era where consent was defined differently (if at all). Jake probably didn't think about whether or not this other kid had been kissed before or what a first kiss might mean for her.
"As a society, we place a lot of pressure on 'firsts.' First impressions, first dates, your first time. Life doesn't always deliver experiences that match up with our expectations. Jake taught me, on my long (and ever-present) journey toward maturity, that we can shift our perspective of these 'imperfect moments,' choosing more compassion for ourselves and for those who challenge us."
I sit cross-legged on the floor and run my finger over the hole dented into the brown and cream linoleum. The dent interrupts the octagonal pattern. I imagine that Karen was trying to get the wrinkles out of an aqua blouse, getting ready for a blind-date and that the doorbell rang, startling her and causing her to drop the iron on the kitchen floor, barely missing her foot. Or maybe, later that night, the date turned out to be a serial killer. A wild one, who drank too much whisky and went crazy, stabbing the floor with the fireplace poker – Karen's lucky to be alive!
I'm here now under the pretence of a visit with these distant "friends of the family." People who I have to call "auntie" and "cousin," when everybody knows we're not really related. Vaguely disguised babysitting, that's what it is. My mom is pawning me off to go and do God-knows-what. That sounds like she's up to something shady, (you must not know my mother).
The winner of the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.