Duke Harten, CA

Senior Writer

Duke began his career writing for a monthly paper called The Fenway News, where he served as staff writer for two years and as editor for four years. Since leaving the newspaper to broaden his portfolio, he’s enjoyed stints as a travel writer for Global Hobo, a pop culture journalist for Dose, a cocktail columnist for Boston Chefs, a freelance sports blogger, and an ad copywriter. Most recently, his first play won a spot in the twentieth annual Boston Theater Marathon. In his free time he explores the LA restaurant scene, watches baseball, reads fiction, travels, and designs greeting cards.

As a Story Terrace writer, Duke interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know him better by reading his autobiographical anecdote below.

Family Hang-ups

My family stories get warped in the retelling—Mom remembers it like this, Meghan like that. Usually the stem of the thing remains intact, the major plot points consistent from one version to the next, but its texture is different each time—was it raining or was it sunny? Colorful details blossom in unexpected moments, provoking the inevitable family chorus of “wait a minute, that’s not how it went…”

My birth is one of the few family anecdotes immune to that sort of variance. Everybody, even Granny, agrees about how this one went down. And Granny’s word is unassailable.

It was mid-October when my mom’s water broke. She and Dad rushed my sister, Meghan, down the road to Granny’s house, where years hence I’d learn to torture my Aunt Maureen with nauseatingly repetitive games of hide-and-seek. (There’s a good one about me hiding in the linen basket while Gramps used the restroom, but that’s for another time.)

Meghan had her pajamas, her stuffed animal, and a few books to kill time while she waited patiently for her baby sister to arrive. The labor took time—I was a stubborn little thing. But finally the deed was done and I arrived red, wet, and screaming, a varsity drooler with big goofy eyes.

Once I was safely swaddled and snoozing, Mom and Dad called Granny’s house with the good news. “Will you put Meggie on the phone?” they said. Granny did. “It’s a boy,” they told my sister. “You have a baby brother. His name—”

But they never got to finish that sentence. Meghan had hung up, unimpressed that I’d had the nerve and bad taste to be born male. Granny, horrified, called my parents back at once. Despite the grown-ups’ best efforts, neither honey nor vinegar could convince Meghan to get back on the phone—she was perfectly content reading her book, thank you very much.

And so my sister welcomed me into this world, with all the warmth and love of a dial tone. But soon there’d be another baby coming down the pike, and what I couldn’t pay back I was certainly ready to pay forward. And so it came to pass that five years later we found ourselves at Granny’s house again, and this time it was me taking the call, just praying for a baby brother…

No dice, but thanks for calling.

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