Or: How I learned that my writing career was meant to be.
Growing up, I don’t really remember ever wanting to be a writer. Even now, I don’t think I’d consider myself a writer. Unless you really want to go all Descartes and conclude that…
“I write, therefore I am…a writer”
I was always more of a science type of kid. Space, the final frontier. Although, I’ve never really been into Star Trek, so the reference is really more of just a reference to space than to the space drama. I do know that I’ve always loved reading. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good story.
Recently my parents came to watch our kids while my wife and I escaped to the Caribbean. They brought with them the Utah snow and a bag full of nostalgia. Old little league pictures, high school report cards, cub scout awards, and other random accomplishments and awards from my very accomplished and awarded childhood. Among the rubble was a short, 2 page, dot-matrix printed and faded story that I had written, most likely for an assignment of some kind in the 6th grade.
I’m not entirely sure why my parents kept that story. Probably for the same reason that they kept a lock of my hair when I decided to escape from the grunge era. This was back when I had a full head of long, flowing, hair. Hair that was long enough to cover the logo on the ‘Nirvana’ or ‘Rage Against the Machine’ t-shirt, that was worn over the top of the long sleeve ‘Offspring’ shirt. You know what I’m talking about. That two-tone t-shirt on t-shirt was how I rolled back then. I could probably still pull it off… They kept that lock of hair for probably the same reason that I have pictures that my kids have drawn.
One thing I am certain of is that I didn’t ramble nearly as much in my writing in the 6th grade as I do now. Disregard the sexism, I was like 12, trying to write about relationships that I barely understand now. So, without further delay, because the world has already waited 25 (okay it’s more like 28) years too long, I give you… well, it didn’t have a title, so I’m just calling it…
“The Story I wrote in the 6th Grade”
I bought a house in a hurry and found that there was an old man living in the walls. Somehow, all the essentials of life were provided for him. One Day I heard him, then met him. This is the story he told me about how and why he made his home in the wall…
The old man stared at me cautiously, his bright blue eyes peering out from behind his long gray hair. From the expression on his face, I concluded that I was the first person he had seen, or talked to for at least thirty years. His skin was pale, with very few wrinkles, and I wondered when it had last seen the sunlight. I had so many questions to ask him that I did not know where to start, so instead, he began.
“Well young chap, I sure hope that I didn’t startle you too much by my tapping and scratching, but this old house has been vacant for so many years, that I got used to making as much noise as I pleased.” he exclaimed in a deep Irish accent.
“That’s fine,” I blurted, “I really didn’t mind the noise, but how about you tell me what you are doing here.”
The old man began again. “Well my boy, it is a long story. It all began about forty years ago. You see, I am an inventor, a scientist, and entrepreneur, a philanthropist, if you will. I just love inventing things for the benefit of other people. Forty years ago, I married a very beautiful lady, a little bit overweight, but still beautiful. Being the kind husband I was, I began to think of a way that she could still enjoy the taste of food, for that is what she like, but not gain weight. I began working on a food pill hat contained a mixture of chemicals that tasted like her favorite foods, but not have the same effect.
“After a year of mixing, concocting and experimenting, I succeeded. Still, I needed to test it and make sure it had no harmful side effects. I decided that if all worked out well, would present it to her as a gift for our third wedding anniversary. That gave me two years to experiment with my new ‘wonder food’.”
The old man stopped for a moment to gather his thoughts, then continued. “After a year of testing, the pill seemed to be holding up very well. The only thing I found wrong was that the chocolate cake was white and the spaghetti tasted more like scrambled eggs.
“My wife, on the other hand, still was unaware of my invention and couldn’t understand why I could rarely eat, and still keep from starving to death. Once in a while she would try to stop eating for a day or two, and would succeed in losing four to five pounds, but in the process, she would get so hungry that she would eat and eat and eat and gain about eleven or twelve pounds. This made her furious, and one day she got so jealous, she shot me with a tranquilizer gun, dragged me and a box of my experiments into a corner of a room and quickly bricked it up so that I couldn’t get out. Luckily, the box of stuff that she gave me contained my ‘wonder food’. That was thirty-seven years ago, and I have been living here in the wall ever since.”
I was amazed at his most unusual story and helped him out of the wall. He thanked me and ran excitedly out the front door and down the street, forgetting his ‘wonder food’. I just cannot wait to try it!