You Will Be Held Accountable
When I was a child I believed in so many things: Cetology. Astral Projection.
MX missiles. Christians. I pretended the margarine container was alive,
liked to say its own name. My father was scared, had to hit me. My mother
smoked endless menthols, pointing her eyes anywhere other than at him.
I wish I could meet the man who invented the plastic substance known as Nerf.
It gave our whole block a reason to live. My friends would line up on the lawn
and I’d smash through them, then I’d line up and they’d smash through me.
Somebody always got hurt, but history taught us to expect it. We also played
Kill the Man, which entailed killing the man (with the Nerf). Some kids called it
Smear the Queer. We were carbon-based bipedal life-forms with names like Doug,
Greg, and Bob. We had Corvettes on our t-shirts. We loved candy and war,
though both were hard on our arteries. We all evolved into chunky adults,
posing in sandy places, celebrating our offspring and their middling successes.
As for me, I have no children. I am a happily married former junkie who eschews
meat. Something else to brag about? My wife and I were in Vancouver once
and found ourselves blushing in a hotel elevator with a boy, his mom, and Robin
Williams. I wanted to thank him for so many things, but most of all for Mork,
who made it possible for me in fourth grade to be weird, and to draw a poster
in which Mork mourned by a culvert spewing filth into a stream, his hands
balloon-like, tears staining his cheeks at the despoliation. My mind howled
to speak, but elevators are awkward. It was quiet for a few floors, but his son,
whose hair was dyed several colors, was wobbling like a little drunk. Robin
loomed behind him and said in a robotic voice, “you will be held accountable.”
We walked out giggling, the doors closed, and they rose toward their dark future.