About The Journal: “jmww is a weekly journal of writing publishing the best in fiction, poetry, flash, essays, interviews, and reviews (or a close approximation).”
A Reminder About Me: I have no idea how a dirtbag like me got accepted there, I’m just honored as hell that they shook me out of the pile, dusted me off, and gave me a shot.
Special thanks to the illustrious Alle C. Hall, Senior Nonfiction Editor at jmww and a stunningly good writer, for her excellent guidance, ideas, and expert honing in editing this piece. You can check out her blog here: About Childhood
As always, thanks to all of you for being so awesome. You’re all so supportive and kind and funny and I can’t thank you enough for hanging out with me here every week! More published work coming next week!
And here’s the obligatory Nicolas Cage photo. Because.
Someone asked me if I was excited about the new Dumbo movie. I had to restrain myself from responding with one or more of the following:
“I would rather replace every strip of bacon I eat with a similarly sized strip of duct tape that was used to pick hairs up from a crime scene that occurred on a bus station bathroom floor.”
“I would rather be locked in a room with Adam Levine (who I prefer to refer to as “Gonorrhea Jesse Pinkman”) and forced to listen to him wax philosophical about his ab routine for three days straight.”
“I would rather go back in time and replace every Love Boat cast member with a Kardashian/Jenner. Kylie is the new Gopher!”
But, oh no! You can’t be honest in those situations! People get all, “Geez! Sorry I asked!”
You know, people claim to want honesty above all else, but I can tell you from experience, the last thing most people want from you is honesty. What people really want is for you to agree with them.
And you know what I don’t agree with?
Subjecting myself to Dumbo for a second time in my life.
Yeah, I saw it when I was five years old, and that was frankly more than enough to emotionally scar me for life. The only way you could make me watch the re-make is if you were to put me in a straitjacket and hold my eyes open a la A Clockwork Orange. Even then, I would just try to use The Force to choke myself unconscious.
Don’t act like I’m the only adult who still tries to use The Force. I attempt it at least a few times a week when presented with “unpleasant situations” in public. It hasn’t worked yet, but I swear last week a guy in front of me in the Walgreens line started to loosen his top collar button to get some air when he asked for a raincheck on a sale item during rush hour. Had he turned around at that moment, he would have seen me doing this:
He continued breathing air despite my righteous efforts of justice, happy as a raincheck-clam to torture all of the people he was holding up in line. I could deal with it if it were some poor little old lady in a muu-muu and knee-highs, but this guy walked outside in his fancy golf outfit and suede driving moccasins and climbed into his S-Class Mercedes, raincheck in-hand for two canisters of almonds.
I pictured him sitting at a table later that night at Long John Silver’s, complaining that the seafood “just simply wasn’t up to snuff”. THEN GO TO A REAL SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, JOHN “BUDDY” REGINALD RUTHERFORD-WINCHESTER III. You clearly have the money and are just playing mind games with the rest of us! You can pay full price for almonds, you rich prick!
In case you’re wondering, The Force also doesn’t work on making the tires of an S-Class Mercedes explode and rain down from the sky in hot tar ashes onto the tops of someone’s suede driving moccasins. I place equal blame for that one on: (a) my rejection letter from Jedi school, and (b) quality German engineering.
Back to the Dumbo thing.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then first of all, sorry, and second, you know I was an anxious worry-wort of a child. A nervous wreck. A real Sensitive Sally. I didn’t really require supplemental things to worry about.
So imagine my surprise, sitting in front of a television screen, kindergarten-dangly-legs-happy to see “the cute elephant movie”, when Dumbo appears on the screen, gets mercilessly tormented by all the other circus animals, his mother defends him, and then she gets taken away from him and locked up in a cage, leaving Dumbo to fend for himself in a harsh, cruel world.
Hey you know what I shouldn’t have had to worry about when I was a kid? My mother being taken away from me and locked up, leaving me alone to traverse a cruel world. I don’t care if it works out in the end – little kids shouldn’t have to worry about those things. Yes, sometimes it happens, mothers get locked up, kids get taken away, but worrying about it in advance will do absolutely nothing beneficial for you as a kid.
Same with Bambi. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about their mothers getting shot by hunters. How about we just let them cross that bridge when it happens and address it at that time, because odds are pretty damn good that it’s not going to happen in the first place? In the meantime you’re just terrifying children for no good reason.
If you want to teach kids about things like life and death, forego the Disney films and get them a hamster, and then never, ever, ever, ever, ever let them actually hold the hamster, because having to watch a child hold a hamster is the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever experienced.
You know what? No hamsters. Get them a fish with a locking lid on the tank, put barbed wire around the outside of the tank, and keep the tank in a locked room that the kid can never get into.
Children around small pets is just too much for me. I can’t take it.
“Look how cute Bryson/Greyson/Flotsam is holding the baby chick!”
GET THAT CHICK AWAY FROM THAT KID RIGHT THIS SECOND. I KNOW HE’S SQUEEZING IT.
Once upon a time in 1988, there was a keychain. A dirty, dirty keychain.
A keychain so dirty, so coveted by all of the middle schoolers in town, had this story taken place in Hobbitville or Dorkville or wherever those Lord of The Rings movies happened, any one of those damp, sexless nerds in cloaks would have tossed that ring off a cliff to get their hands on it.
That’s not fair. Maybe they’re not all damp, sexless nerds. I think maybe the Elves weren’t damp, sexless nerds, but I can never remember because I fell asleep during all three of those movies. In the theater.
Know why? Because those movies, like most movies these days, are:
ALL MOVIES SHOULD BE 90 MINUTES.
Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure the Elves were hot in that classy, useless way, like Gwyneth Paltrow, where they look beautiful in long, silk gowns but you have a really hard time imagining them humping.
Don’t send me weird emails about this.
Which brings me back to the keychain, or as I shall hereafter refer to it:
I first heard about The Keychain from my friend Jenny, who’d taken a babysitting job for the then-current holder of The Keychain, Marlene. Marlene was a divorced single mom to a well-behaved child named Justine. Jenny loved babysitting for Justine because she was a cool kid and Marlene paid well.
Jenny was babysitting Justine one afternoon when she had to search through a kitchen drawer for some Scotch tape. In the back of the drawer, under a few layers of miscellaneous stuff, resided The Keychain.
As the story goes, Jenny pulled it out of the drawer and said, “What the hell?” as she inspected it.
The Keychain was made of a bronze-colored metal, and featured two cartoonish people – a man and a woman – in profile. The woman had huge boobs, and the man was standing across from her with his pants down and his…you know…ding-dong…sticking straight out.
Justine rolled up and said, “Oh, you found Mommy’s keychain. We’re not supposed to play with that.”
She took it from Jenny and said, “Hang on. I can show you how to make it move, but then we have to put it away.”
There was a mechanism in The Keychain where if you pulled on a lever at the bottom of it, the man’s hips moved forward and his…ding-dong…appeared to go into the woman’s…hoo-hah.
The Keychain was no ordinary keychain. The Keychain was the dirtiest keychain in the world, or as I shall now hereafter refer to it:
The Humping Keychain.
Jenny was stunned. She had never seen anything so magnificent.
Obviously, Jenny had to have it, but despite the fact that she was a filthy-mouthed little thief (which is why we got along so well), she knew better than to take The Humping Keychain that day. Justine had just seen her with it, so she would’ve been able to testify in a Court of Dirty Keychain Law that Jenny was the last person seen holding it.
Jenny told me about The Humping Keychain in vivid detail. “You won’t believe it,” she said. “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”
I knew Jenny’s filth standards were high, so I took her at her word. After all, she was the one who discovered a cornucopia of “marital aids” at our acquaintance Tricia’s house, hidden away in Tricia’s parents’ nightstand, and chased Tricia around the house with something that looked like a red zucchini (barehanded!) yelling, “Dude! Your mom’s teeth marks are on this!”
We were not invited back.
The next time Marlene called Jenny to ask her to babysit, she asked if she could bring me along.
We hit the kitchen as soon as we arrived. Jenny pulled The Humping Keychain out of the drawer and it was everything she’d described and more. The cartoon sex people even had these goofy expressions on their faces and the man’s eyes were all bugged out of his head, something Jenny had, surprisingly, neglected to mention.
The Humping Keychain wasn’t just sex. It was sex and comedy. The total package. As far my dirtbag middle school comedy tastes were concerned, Andrew Dice Clay might as well have been standing right there in the kitchen.
We put it back in the drawer when we heard Justine coming out from her room. That kid wouldn’t leave us alone for a single second for the rest of the evening. That may have been the night I officially decided that I never wanted to have kids.
Jenny wasn’t available the next time Marlene needed a babysitter for Justine, so she directed her to me – and this was going to be an offsite, awesome babysitting job. Marlene worked at a beach club a couple towns over, and since her boss wouldn’t be around that day, she was taking Justine to work with her. She just needed someone to watch her in case something came up. I was going to get paid to hang out at a beach club all day! It was like one of the lesser orphans in “Annie” getting a spa day. I was going to steal SO much food.
Marlene asked if she could come pick me up at my house, and then I remembered:
The Humping Keychain.
As much as a day at the beach club sounded like the best thing ever, it did lack a certain sex/comedy element that only The Humping Keychain could provide.
I told Marlene I would just walk over to her house instead of her picking me up, since it was only two blocks away from my house, and we could go from there.
Naturally, I stole The Humping Keychain within five minutes of my arrival at Marlene’s.
Also, naturally, someone must have hipped Marlene to the fact that I had stolen it, because even though we had a great time that day at the beach club, I was never called to babysit for Justine again. That kid must have put two and two together, realized I was the last one in the house, and then went turncoat on me and told her mother.
Don’t care. Worth it! I was now in possession of The Humping Keychain.
But stealing is wrong!
Is it, when you really think about the circumstances? If anything, I was saving poor, impressionable Justine from having to live in a house where something as disgusting (hilarious) and pornographic (double hilarious) as The Humping Keychain was just left in a drawer for anybody to find. I stole The Humping Keychain because I was concerned about the welfare of that child! How dare you question my morals as a thief?!
I later traded The Humping Keychain to another sixth grader after an excruciatingly complex and protracted negotiation. I had recently watched both “Working Girl” and “Baby Boom”, and I fancied myself a tiger lady businesswoman.
If you’re not already following this blog because you have “standards” or whatever, please feel free to click the Follow button on the home page and you’ll get an email anytime I post some of this hogwash, usually around once a week. You can find me on “The Twitter” as well under the name RomComDojo.
“Nobody appreciates your sense of humor, you know. As a matter of fact, everyone’s just about to puke from you. If you’ve got a hard-on for trash, don’t take care of it around us.” – Steff McKee, “Pretty in Pink”