I like to believe my obsession with Edgar Allan Poe & O.Henry began in junior high. That feels right for some reason I can’t explain. But my memory won’t even let me buy into that, because I’m pretty sure I didn’t read Poe until 10th grade English class. I’m getting a distinct 10th grade vibe from thinking about “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Perhaps The Cask of Amontillado was 11th grade?
Regardless, I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe and O. Henry sometime in the 80s. I bought like the equivalent of each of their Greatest Hits at Waldenbooks in the Northtown Mall and felt super grown up and mysterious about it. Before that, all my babysitting money went solely to Sweet Valley High Books and records. It was a rite of passage.
Also, I think Ed & O came along at the time in my life where Jodi Hanson, Sister #2, and I became a little obsessed with the dark arts — ouija boards, seances, anything that had to do with haunting. Really, it was Jodi & Sister #2 who were super obsessed, I just went along for the ride because I had nothing better to do.
That summer between 10th and 11th grade was spent holding “seances” with Jodi & Sister #2’s friends, learning to read tarot cards (also purchased at Waldenbooks), and watching “Witch Board” every weekend. It was a very zeitgesity movie that summer because, it starred Tawny Kitaen and Patch from “Days of Our Lives.” This was also the same summer Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” was a huge hit.
Sister #3 is still scarred by this phase of ours, probably because she was nine.
Do all teenagers go through this? Or was this solely an 80s phenomenon brought on by the Satanic Panic?
Are you still with me here? You’re gonna be totally bummed how this ends, but I don’t really care. I was having a bad case of the sads this morning and writing this has kind of jarred me out of it.
Edgar was probably my very favorite writer until I discovered John Irving in 1991. However, I must admit O. Henry was much more influential. I’m only a little ashamed to admit that every shitty teenage short story I wrote had a surprise ending. I thought I was so clever. I apologize to anyone who ever read any fiction I wrote in high school, you deserve 33 million mad props for not crushing my fledgling writer’s spirit. If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be online rambling right now and ending this post with a Stevie Nicks video. Cheers to you high school fiction readers who only offered praise and never criticized, you made me what I am today!
So as I was saying Edgar was my favorite writer for about four years there and my very favorite piece of Edgar’s writing was “Annabel Lee”. Of course. It’s one of the random bits of poetry I have committed to memory. M.E. Kerr only intensified my love for “Annabel Lee” by mentioning it in a few of her books. God, I loved her books.
Because I had the sads today, I went in search of Stevie Nicks hoping that would cheer me up. See she was kind of already on my mind not because I’m obsessed and going through this phase, but because two very different people serendipitously mentioned her when I least expected it last night. First my friend Kurtis tweeted about having “Landslide” stuck in his head and then roughly 10 minutes later as I was listening to the Mindy Kaling book, she mentioned how that very same song makes her cry.
See? Stevie is everywhere. Don’t fight her, just give in.
So imagine my delight in the middle of my sads to discover this! That’s right it’s Stevie Nicks singing the Edgar Allan Poe poem “Annabel Lee.”