Saturday, August 25, 2007


-Age 3: Like early man, I have trouble telling the difference between waking life and dreams. My Aunt Sheryl, my dad’s step-sister, only a few years older than my big brother Dave, passes away but her spirit is kept safe, entombed in a bulbous device of yellow plastic, with a red knob and many pipes. It comes to my attention, at a time unspecified, that the bulbous yellow device is a water pump, cobwebbed in the corner of our basement, and Sheryl has simply moved out of Ma and Pa’s house, and in with her boyfriend Lance. Years later: Lance becomes my Uncle. A few years more: Sheryl and Lance no longer speak to our side of the family, and she might as well be a spirit in a water pump after all.

-Age 6: In a panic, I ask my mom what happens to me when I die. Mom is cleaning out the hall closet and would rather be left to it. “Jents don’t die,” she tells me. With a great relief -- the greatest relief -- removed from my shoulders, I return to playing He-Man. Today’s adventure: Mek-A-Nek’s funeral. Prince Adam’s eulogy: “Farewell, friend Mek-A-Nek … if only you had been born a Jent.”

-Age 9: I practice my stand-up routine before our large bathroom vanity. I give myself the willies by turning the lights off, closing my eyes and saying, “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody -- Mongoose, Manny, Maxwell!” I run from the room.

-Ages 13-17: Every Saturday I spend the night at Shaun’s house, along with Bobby, Adrian and Jarrod. Our adventures begin with the discovery of an empty bread bag and some matted down grass under a fallen tree. That night, we explore further and meet the Devil living in Shaun’s house. The Devil chases us up the hill to Shaun’s house, where we cower sleeplessly as he bangs on doors, removes screens from windows, and dances cloven-hooves on the roof. In the morning we find clawed potatoes in the yard and ashes where his knuckles stuck the doors. Every Saturday night thereafter he chases us from spring until fall, but our physical forms evade him. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually we do our best to stay out of his grasp, and succeed to varying degrees. Some of us drop out of school and take jobs in nursing homes. Some of us date girls who are dangerously younger, some get fat, drink beer and do drugs. We lust for hand models and enroll in vocational school. We drift apart, and nod goodbyes on graduation day. The devil catches each of us, in ways only we know for sure.

-Age 23: I experience my life’s great trauma. Her name is Xxxxxx Xxxxxx. Three months after I see her for the last time, she tells me she won’t call me again.

-Age 27: I go to bed one night, safely ensconced in Illinois. When I awaken, three days later, I live by sea.

-Age 28+: My adventures continue. Somewhen in the interval between six and now I learn that Jents will die after all.