Joan Hanna: We were so excited to have your story Lovin’ You’s a Man’s Man’s Job in our October (Men) issue. Can you give our readers a little background for the story?
Jon Pershing: Instead of background, I think your readers might be more interested in knowing what happened next. I wrote this essay back in 2009, not long after the events told in it took place. Soon lawyers got involved, and, with them, of course, the courts. It was one thing for this angry and confused guy to bully a woman and a child, but another thing entirely for him to try to do the same with attorneys, law enforcement, a judge, etc. Things have, thankfully, settled down tremendously. The woman became my wife last year; the child is now my stepson. His father still has his problems, but hopefully the measures we’ve taken over the past couple years will keep the impact of those problems on his son to a minimum.
JH: What I loved so much about this piece was your unique point of view. We rarely get to hear about this from a male perspective. Can you talk a little about this?
JP: Guys like my wife’s ex-husband give the rest of us men a bad name. I was appalled by his behavior and wanted to write something about what it was like to be a man watching another man treat a woman and child the way he was. If he was giving men a bad name, I wanted to write something that tried to counteract that a bit.
JH: Yes, that’s brilliant. You requested that we publish this story under a pseudonym, which is common for many reasons, can you explain why you chose to do this for this particular piece?
JP: As I’ve said, the five-year-old in the essay is now my nine-year-old stepson, and he’s quite good at googling. ome day he’ll be old enough to understand why his mother and father are no longer married and what kind of guy his father was/is and all the shit that guy put us through, but that day isn’t today or any day in the near future. I didn’t want him googling my name and finding this essay before he was ready to read it and know the truth.
JH. Ah, yes, that makes sense. That’s a very sensitive approach. I understand you recently received a Pushcart Prize nomination. Can you tell us about that nomination?
JP: I received a Pushcart nomination for a short story of mine that appeared in Artichoke Haircut. It was my first published piece of fiction. I’d provide a link to it and other works of mine, but then my real name would be linked to my r.kv.r.y. essay and little googling eyes might find them and put the pieces together.
JH: And finally, would you care to share with our readers what recovery means to you?
JP: In an old notebook of mine, I have a quote written down of Alanis Morrisette’s from, I think, a 2002 Rolling Stone interview that goes: “I think I’m in recovery for everything. We all are for the rest of our lives.” I didn’t write down the interviewer’s question, so I have no idea now of the context of her words, but I don’t think knowing why she said what she did is necessary in understanding what she was saying. And what she was saying, I believe, is essentially this: Every day has the potential to fuck you up in some way, but every day also has the potential to help you get over or through what happened to you on some other day. Maybe you don’t ever fully recover from anything, but, then again, you don’t ever fully get fucked up from anything either. In a word, recovery means life.