In 2018, writer Shea Serrano asked if I would submit some words for his upcoming book, Movies (And Other Things). It was a great email to get, from an old colleague and a true friend.
He wanted a very short essay, about the movie death that affected me the most.
Within seconds, I had my idea.
Lil Saint. From You Got Served. [WE LOVE YOU — THIS BLOG’S FOR YOU LIL SAINT]
I wrote it and a few days later sent it to Shea. At the time, I thought it was pretty good. My finest work, definitely no. But good enough.
I was thrilled to help my friend, and flabbergasted that for a third time, I’d be in a Shea book that would (hopefully) be a New York Times best seller.
There was The Rap Year Book (2015):
And there was Basketball (And Other Things) (2017)
Fast-forward to 2019, when a copy of Movies (and Other Things) arrives at my doorstep.
I’m so happy. For Shea.
After those 3 seconds of Shea-happiness, I flip to the back — tryna see that INDEX BABYYY.
The back of the book looks different than the two previous, in two ways. One — it was an acknowledgements, not an index. And two, I wasn’t in it.
I read it up and down at least 50 times.
I didn’t know what to say. I mean — I’ll be the first to acknowledge, it wasn’t my finest work — but really? NOTHING.
I started to panic.
What to do, what to do, what to dooooooooooooooo
Instead of sabotaging his life, I instituted a 6-month cool down period. And once the time had passed, I’d simply ask.
This morning, I asked Shea why I wasn’t included in his book.
“Hello, Rembert. The reason that I did not use your blurb about Lil’ Saint in the movie book is because it was bad.”
I put my phone down. Wasn’t expecting that. Convinced he was joking, I went and dug up what I’d written about Lil’ Saint. There was no way it was that bad.
The first four words:
“As a teenage cinephile,”
I put my phone down again. Ah shit, it WAS bad. Unclear of where to turn, I peeked back into Shea’s email:
“You used to be one of the best writers in America and now you're... I don't know... just...not.”
Nice try, Shea. That compliment — a dead give away that he’s lying.
He goes on to tear me down with joking insults, and then builds me back up with overly kind words. And then actually explains what happened:
“The actual truth is the reason that I did not use your blurb about Lil' Saint in the movie book is because of a clerical error. I accidentally placed your blurb in a Google Doc separate of the others and so when I turned them all in that one ended up getting left behind. I am a dolt.”
Shea Serrano is one of the nicest, and most talented, humans on earth.
But is he telling the truth? Let’s dip back into that Lil’ Saint essay.
“But when the doctor tells them that a bullet has ended Lil Saint’s life, causing Rico to punch a wall and then break down in the arms of B2K (Boys of the New Millennium), I clutched a decorative pillow and weeped, as I rocked back and forth.”
I honestly don’t know what this is. Actually, scratch that, I do:
Let’s just call it, “a very fortunate clerical error.” But there’s also a lesson in this — always bring your A game when you’re making stuff with your friends. Everyone and everything else? Dial it up and down when appropriate.
But when you’re doing something for the homies? Nothing less than the best.