Curiouser & Curiouser: Is your maiden name Hayes? My maiden name is Hayes. Are we related?
Heather: Yes, my maiden name IS Hayes. I’d say we’re sisters, since I’ve always wanted one and even tried to buy one with my allowance once, but you’re so wonderfully tiny, I doubt it’s possible. Cousins maybe? Totally believable. I have like eleven thousand cousins. I come from southern farmers on both sides. Kids = free labor.
C&C: You said somewhere that ideally you’d have six husbands. PLEASE tell me who all your husbands would be and why.
H: Oh Lord. I KNEW you’d ask this. Haha. Ok here goes:
First, I’d keep my current husband, David Foster, because he is awesome to me and awesome to the three beautiful badass kids we made together. There is no shame between us, and no end to our devotion. Plus, he would let me have the other five husbands, which immediately qualifies him for sainthood. Look it up.
Second, William Gay. Listen, I realize he’s dead, but that was recent and I think he’d be into the fact that I rate his corpse/ghost higher on my list than most live men. It’s his prose, okay? It’s just. When I read I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down, I feel possessed. And I’ve absolutely no desire to call Father Merrin.
Third, Richard Thomas. You knew this was coming! He is going to kill me for this. He and I went to grad school together in Kentucky, and we’ve remained good friends ever since. There are a lot of great things about Richard, but I’d marry him mostly because he is super, SUPER goodlooking. It’s pretty stupid, really, for one person to be so tall and so attractive and have so much wavy salt and peppery hair. Plus we’ve had a lot of really good conversations about literature, which is a turn on for me in any potential future Mr. Heather Foster. So yeah. Him.
Fourth, Patrick Dempsey, circa 2007. But ONLY if he stayed in character as Derek Shepherd the whole time. I know I said I’m not interested in persona. I totally LIED. Dempsey is so hot as Shepherd that I would let him do brain surgery on me even though he is definitely not a real doctor. I’d probably insist that the sex happen beforehand though, just in case I either died or came out of surgery with a permanent drooling problem or a conscience or something.
Fifth, Simon Baker, in suspenders or a vest. It’s a fetish. Get past it. Also, he’s one of the only blondes I’ve ever found attractive.
Sixth, Dwight Yoakam, of course. He’s incredibly smart and interesting (I wonder what kind of soap he uses! Ahhh!). He’s a terrific songwriter. His VOICE is just…well, it’s heaven. There is that lonesome catch in the back of his throat that just slays me every time. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him live (once from the front row at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, Texas–amazing!) and he’s got charisma for days. I’ve seen how he handles his guitar. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how things with him would go. Plus, he looks really really good in tight britches.
C&C: Tell me how you feel about Elvis.
H: I would dig him up and make him my seventh husband. The pelvis, the smooth voice, black velvet, all that. I used to live in Memphis, in fact, and my favorite cousin met her husband while they were both working at Graceland, which I’ve visited many times.
So, Elvis. I find him irresistible, especially offstage. I sometimes get fascinated with people who happen to be famous (Dwight Yoakam, Marilyn Monroe, many writers, a few of my would-be husbands and concubines), but it isn’t that glamorous public persona which interests me. In fact, I detest celebrities who seem to have nothing more to offer.
I grew up with parents who really shared very little of themselves with me. My mother, for example, gave up almost all of her own time and interests in order to dedicate herself to her children. She wanted to do that, and she was (and still is) a terrific mother. However, I don’t remember knowing anything about her as an individual person (separate from her role as wife and mother) until I was an adult. And my father was even more mysterious. I thought all people were basically the same, I guess. When I began to really know people deeply, probably when I was in my late teens, I became obsessed with the little strange details that make people different. I still have a bizarre, almost starving hunger to KNOW people. I like to know everything I can about someone who interests me–what books could he read over and over? What’s on her iPod? What did he eat on the best day of his life? What kind of shampoo does she use? I want to know all the things. I realize that makes me sound very much like a stalker and/or serial killer. Maybe it will come to that one day. Whatever.
C&C: I understand exactly what you mean about wanting to KNOW people – all the little things. That’s the entire pretense for this interview series. I smiled when I read your iPod question, because in another interview I asked an author what they currently listened to in the car.
Do you think people are inherently suspicious of genuine, no-ulterior-motive curiosity? As a general defense mechanism or childhood training, or something?
H: YES. Or at least I’m afraid that they are. I worked my way through grad school as a night manager at a grocery store. I dealt with a lot of customers, people of all sorts. I mostly dealt with accounting stuff or problems at the service desk, but occasionally, if we were really busy or a cashier needed a potty break, I got to work the checkstand. I loved that part of the job. I loved seeing all the stuff people bought and imagining the kind of lives they led. Occasionally, I would comment or ask about something they were buying and most often, that seemed to offend them. They seemed to feel like I had invaded their privacy, like I was supposed to be moving things with my hands, scanning things without noticing what they were. That was frustrating, but then there were those customers who let me in without me even needing to ask–once, a lady came to my register carrying three rotisserie chickens. She set them down and burst into tears, barely able to catch her breath, stammering about how her sister just died and she didn’t know what else to do besides buy some chickens. I’ll never forget that.
It’s kind of strange that people are suspicious of nosiness, since so much of our culture now is narcissistic–Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. We’re constantly talking about ourselves, often to people whom we’ve never even met in person.
P.S. Today, I listened to Lana Del Rey on my way to work. “Ride” over and over and over.
C&C: Tell me about Halloween.
H: Halloween is tied for Christmas as my favorite holiday. When I was a kid, my mom loaded up as many kids as she could fit in our van and took us to the best neighborhoods to go trick-or-treating. We always ended up with obscene amounts of candy. We lived on an island in Florida, and there were a lot of families with children there, so most people participated in Halloween stuff. Now, I live in a tiny rural town in Tennessee. We don’t usually get a SINGLE trick-or-treater. It’s devastating. So, we deck the house out in all kinds of wonderfully gory decorations at the beginning of October. I make scary snacks for the kids. Hubby #1 and I watch horror films together every night of the month. On Halloween night, I dress the kids up (hubby and I get dressed up, too) and drive them 3 towns over to do some proper candy fetching. Then I steal my favorites from their stash the next day. No shame.
C&C: Do you wear a watch? Why or why not?
H: This answer is gonna be boring. I don’t wear a watch because I have gigantic man sized wrists. I’ve longed for a women’s leather-strap watch all my life, though. I secretly jealous punch women in the face in my head when I see them wearing watches like that.
C&C: What do you have in your pockets?
H: The answer to this is always the same: absolutely nothing. I can’t stand the feeling of having stuff in my pockets. My purse is another story. It’s completely full of crap. There’s the usual–wallet, phone, keys, sunglasses. But I’ve also got hand sanitizer, granola bars, birth control pills, Hot Wheels, a pacifier, a strip club discount card, a dry erase marker, white out, ear buds, and about a thousand receipts in there.
C&C: What was your favorite toy as a child, and why?
H: Definitely my Barbies. Yeah, that’s right. I’m a feminist who played with Barbies. I STILL play with Barbies. My sons join me now.
I remember being 7 or 8 years old, inventing very complicated scenarios for my Barbies to act out, inspired by the soap operas my mom sometimes let play when she worked in the kitchen: “Victor, I’m pregnant!” or “I saw you at the mall with Trinity. Do you love her?” I also posed them in life scenes or cheerleading pyramids and wasted entire rolls of film shooting them with my parents’ slidefront Olympus.
C&C: How many hours are you averaging, sleep-wise, per night right now?
H: During the week, 6 if I’m lucky, 3 or 4 if I’m not. The weekends are better. But the baby’s no longer to blame. She’s sleeping 10 hours a night now. It’s the students, more specifically, the essays I’m constantly grading. I’m pretty much mainlining coffee these days. Red Diamond Hazelnut. Cream. No Sugar.
C&C: Do you like amphibians? I’ve found people are very “YES! A TOAD!” Or “Get that slimy thing away from me,” not much in between. In general are you fascinated by any particular animal/bug/creature? Why?
I like frogs as long as they stay away from me. If I get up to my door, ready to go into my house, and there’s a frog on the screen, it’s game over. Because I just know it will jump on me. I always make my husband or one of my kids catch it and move it out of my way. My brother used to put frogs down the back of my swimsuit in front of his cute friends so I’m maybe a little scarred by that. Toads are kind of charming, and we have several living in our flowerbeds. Lizards can kiss my ass. There’s something about them that’s just not right. They’ll lie there still forever and suddenly just make a break for it and you NEVER KNOW WHICH WAY THEY’LL GO, which I think is the worst part.
I love cats. The bitchier, the better. We have three: Sylvia, Keats, and Hugo. Sylvia’s bitchiness is EPIC. She destroys things that belong to me and then waits for me to find them and yell, so she can go coo in my husband’s ear and advance her plan to give me a stroke so he will belong to her alone. She’s taking me out first, then the kids. I’m certain of it.