Archive | October, 2009

The Loss and Reclamation of My Boat Shoes

14 Oct
kyleboatshoe

The miracle of birth.

Yep. That’s me. That’s me giving birth to my boat shoes. My boat shoes, I’d privy to say, are perhaps the single most important article of clothing I have ever owned. They class me up. They stud me out. They make me look like different things to different people. To some, they make me look like a wily youth. To some, an ardent, yet unpretentious intellectual. To others, a hobo. No matter who you are, though, you cannot underestimate their power and beauty.

Recently, I had the scare of my life.

I lost my boat shoes.

You have to understand, wearing my boat shoes in public can easily be likened to wearing two, tiny, foot-size Aston-Martins that can also become two full-size Aston-Martins if you want them to be.

Different Ashton-Martin

Ashton-Martin

The point is that I couldn’t completely rule out the possibility that someone had stolen my boat shoes. It’s a distinct possibility. I went to the Waxahachie Police Department to file a report.

—-

The offices are in downtown Waxahachie across from some trees and stuff. I walk in. There’s one central desk, closest to the front door. Behind it is a bullpen with probably a dozen more desks separated by small partitions. I wonder where they keep the box of guns. I’ll ask in a little bit.

“Hello, sir.”

“Hello.”

“I’d like to report a missing person–well, persons.”

“Persons? Hm. Well all right, have the persons been missing more than forty-eight hours?”

“Probably. I just started looking for them this morning, but I’ve been wearing my other shoes for the past three or four days, so they could have been missing for like…a hundred hours.” I stand with my hands clasped together, nervous. The officer looks slightly confused.

“I’m sorry, what does your choice in footwear have to do with these missing people?”

“I can only wear one pair of shoes at a time. Listen, all I’m saying is that maybe they got their feelings hurt that I was wearing my Nikes all the time, maybe they’ve run away or something. You j–”

“Wait.” He holds his hand up. “Let me stop you right there. Are these people that are missing, or shoes?”

“Neither.”

“Neither.”

“Yea, they’re boat shoes, so they’re more than shoes, but less than people. But also more than people because they don’t judge you.”

“Get out.”

—-

I wear these shoes all the time. If I lost those boat shoes, I don’t know where I’d put my feet. I have other pair(s) of shoes, but they’re just not the same. See, my Nikes are like Marion Barber and my boat shoes are like Felix J…no, that doesn’t work. See, I’m like Doc Holiday, and my Nikes are like my one gun and my boat shoes are like my other gun that I like a little more.

—-

I looked under my couch, under my love seat, under every single cat, and under my bed. I stood in my living room thinking, Where the Hell are those sh… Oh God. Could my shoes be in Hell? I would travel to Hell to find see if my shoes are there.

How does one get to hell? Since I asked Jesus to live in my right ventricle while I was in High School, I knew I’d have to really find some divine-loop hole if I wanted to go to Hell when I died. The gospel says that when you ask Jesus into your heart, he’s there forever, no matter what you do or say. I decided that if I wanted to go to hell, I’d have to remove my heart, then die.

I sit in my bathroom with a large steak knife and a heart shaped outline around the left side of my chest.

“Here I come, Phinnaes and Daxaus (the names for my boat shoes), here comes mama.” I put the blade to my chest. “Ow,” I said. “God, that hurts. I’m not doing this anymore.” I got up and made a sandwich.

I went to creeks, overpasses, boat stores. I even went to a dock and roughed up a couple of the guys I found there. I thought maybe my boat shoes felt jipped because they had never really been on a boat. Maybe they hated me. Oh god…*shiver*

I burst out into the night, screaming, weeping for my shoes.

“WHAT HAVE I DONE?! WHAT HAVE I DONE TO BETRAY YOU?!”

At this moment a sharp crack, deeper than any thunder I had ever heard, resonated in the heavens. It was immediately followed by a high-pitched “HOO!” then what sounded like an exasperated sigh. I looked up and saw Truth.

“My god. It’s you. You are real!” When Wesley and I were children, we would often lay on the grass at night, trying our best to avoid all the syringes, and talk about the universe and the stars. One night I asked Wesley what the stars were. He said that they were all the great shoes of the past. I told him he was an idiot and threw a dirty needle at him. Then we shared a bottle of Nyquil and fell asleep on my roof.

What was looking down on me was the great Boat Shoe Mother–and Michael Jackson’s head. Apparently he lives in space, too.

“I Am the great Boat Shoe Mother. Hello.”

God, it's full of stars.

My God, it's full of stars.

“Hello, I said. Do you know where m–”

“I’m Michael,” Michael Jackson interrupted, almost whispering.

“Hello, Michael. I went to your viewing. It was very nice.”

“Oh, did you? That’s sweet, that’s sweet. Do you know if they put my head in a jar or not? Because I j–”

“Michael? I’d really like to solve one problem at a time. I’ll solve your head thing next. Let me get my shoes back.”

“Oh, OK,” he said, sounding slightly dejected.

“KYLE,” Shoe Mother said.

“Yes?” I fell to my knees.

“You have forgotten who you are, and therefore forgotten me. Until you remember, your shoes are all but lost.”

“But, but how will I discover who I am? How will I know?

“You will know.”

“Please! Please you don’t know what it’s like! PLEASE!” I step forward on my knees, reaching my hands into the heavens. “I need you! I need your help! I’m…I’m lost.”

“Remember.”

“I’m so…”

“Remember,” then Shoe Mother vanished. I sat on my front yard, weeping in silence, my hands resting limply on my thighs.

“My turn now?” Michael Jackson’s ethereal head asked. I looked up.

“Michael, I’m pretty sure they just buried your head.”

“How can you be sure?” He sounded afraid. I sighed, glanced to the ground, and then back to the sky.

“Because I was at your viewing. Your head was clearly in the coffin. Nobody stole your head.”

“That makes me feel so much better. Thank you, Kyle. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Jackson. Have a good afterlife.”

“You too,” he said, nodding toward me.

“I’m still alive, though.”

“Oh, well. I feel like I need to repay you.”

“No, really, it isn’t necessary.”

“No, it is. Please. Would you like me to sing you a song?”

“To be honest, a floating, disembodied pop-star singing to me from beyond the grave would probably just frighten me.”

“How ’bout this? I can tell you where yo shoes are! I saw them with my GHOST EYES!” His eyes turned a ghastly white. “WOOOOOH!” He giggled in ecstasy. I’m pretty sure I peed myself a little bit.

“Where are they?”

“Your closet! Your GHOST closet!” I was fairly positive he just meant my regular closet.

“Thanks, Michael!”

“You’re welcome. Goodbye!”

“Bye!”

I ran into my house, threw open my door, dug under some towels and old clothes and there they were. My boat shoes. We were reunited.

Best friends.

Best friends.

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Sick Days.

9 Oct

So here’s the thing. For years, I’ve operated under the assumption that I had some kind of “Mutant Healing Ability” that kept me from ever getting sick or seriously injured. So, when Derek dared me to eat a handful of ACL mud in exchange for a sip from his water bottle, I didn’t hesitate for a second.

Today, I am sick. I have what the medical world refers to as “Strep throat.” At least that’s what I believe. My throat hurts like hell and looks like what I’d imagine Zombie Kyle’s throat would. I promptly made an appointment to see my doctor.

kylesick

Pain. Biological torment.

“Hello, Dr. Trammel’s office, how may I help you?” A youthful receptionist asks.

I sigh deeply. “I got the strep.” There’s a few seconds of silence.

“All right, would you like to make an appointment?”

I sigh deeply again. “Yea,” exhale, “Yea, we should go ahead and do that, I think.” I’m so depressed. I hate being sick–it really breaks my spirits. I just try to remember that even the greatest among us fall to illness from time to time. I think of that episode of Happy Days when Fonzie gets sick right before he does a jump or has sex with a girl or punches something–I can’t remember exactly.

“OK, well, we have a 2:45 time slot,” she says. “Will that work?”

“Turn that engine off,” I say. I’m hallucinating.

“What?”

“Get back to the cattle, son,” I say, then hang up. I sit back in my living room chair, look to the ceiling, exhausted. After a moment I force myself up out of the chair and into my bedroom. I disrobe and lay down in my bed to get a few hours of sleep before my appointment.

My cat lays next to me the whole time–most likely waiting for me to die so she can begin the slow process of eating my remains and stealing my identity. Cats are like the vultures of the home.

Four hours later, at around noon, I wake up and watch a film called Candy starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish. Candy is about a pair of star-crossed lovers who, after years of drug abuse, begin to grow further and further away from each other and, in a way, further and further from themselves. Abbie Cornish’s character, Heath Ledger’s wife, gets in deep with the mob, and one night they take a knife to her and cut her face up. She feels ugly, so Heath cuts his mouth on either side, to show her that looks don’t matter. She rejects him and he goes crazy, starts wearing face paint and blowing things up.

I’m sorry, that’s not what really happens. To be honest, I don’t know what happened at the end because halfway through I took Candy out and put in The Dark Knight. God, I love that movie.

I get dressed and go to the doctor’s office in DeSoto. My grandmother lives in DeSoto. How fun.

I walk into the office and go to sign in. In the box marked “What are you here for?” I write “The doctor.”

The waiting room is crowded. I find a seat as far away from the other diseased humans and start to read the book I brought. A kind elderly woman leans towards me and saallw;jlshsaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiio Sorry. I blacked out for a second.

After a few minutes, a nurse calls out my name. Years of public schooling have taught me that she’s taking attendance.

“Here,” I say. She stands at the doorway, looking at me. “I’m here.”

“No, Mr. Irion, it’s your turn.”

“Oh, yipee!” I flip all those waiting the double-bird and walk through the door to the treatment area.

I’m taken to an examination room, where the nurse asks me a few questions, takes my temperature and then my blood pressure. The nurse leaves and later the real doctor comes in.

“Hello,” she looks at my chart, “Robert.” Robert is my first name. It’s what “the man” knows me as.

“Hello.”

“What seems to be the problem today?”

“Strep, I think,” I make a sad face and point to my throat.

“Hm,” she looks down my throat.

“I’ve been strep-ed of all my dignity,” I say.

“Oh, now, that’s not true.” She’s not getting it.

“I hope this examination doesn’t require a strep search,” I say, winking. She stops what she’s doing and looks at me.

“No, I don’t think that will be necessary.” She turns and continues writing in my file.

“Oh, OK. I’m just trying to be honest, you know, strep-resent,” I raise my fist feebly.

She gives me a brief checkup and writes me a prescription for some antibiotics–something called a “Z-pack.” This sounds like poison, but I really don’t care. Death would be a welcome relief from my current state of health.

“Could this kill me?” I ask.

“N…no, that’s just about impossible.”

“Damn,” I say softly, looking down at the prescription. “Well, OK, thanks for everything.”

“Hope you get to feeling better, Robert.”

“Me too,” I say, looking back at her. A single tear rolls down my cheek. “Me too.” I get up off the observation table, walk past the doctor  and into the hallway, shutting the door quietly behind me. As I walk toward the reception desk to pay, I see the door start to open and I walk back and shut it again. “Don’t come out until I leave,” I say to the doctor on the other side. “You’re going to ruin the moment.” I walk back to reception. “She’s trying to ruin the moment,” I say. “How much will this be?”

The drive home is easy. I go to HEB to pick up my prescription. I go home. I prepare a glass of water. I take my pill. My pill is taken. I walk into the living room. I sit down. I begin to read a Stephen King novel. I fall asleep. When I wake up, Stephen King is in my living room.

“Stephen, I didn’t expect you, where–”

“Shut up, maggot. You shut your damn mouth. What’s going on here?”

“What? I’m sick, I–”

“HOW COULD YOU FALL ASLEEP WHILE READING ONE OF MY NOVELS?! You think I don’t know when that happens? I’m Stephen King! I’m more than a man. You know that book It? Totally autobiographical.”

“Wait, are you the clown or the kids, or–”

“I’m the STEPHEN KING!”

“Wait, what? This is getting stupid. That book is not autobiographical. I also don’t think you’re the real Stephen King, I think you’re just a hallucination.”

“Maybe I am…or maybe you are…” Stephen lifts his left hand and points at me. Then he slowly walks forward making “OoOo” ghost sounds.

“St..Stephen, stop it. You’re embarrassing yourself.” Stephen lowers his hand, jumps on Mr. T’s back (who had come in during me and Stephen’s initial interaction), and flies away. This is what happens when you mix horror-suspense novels, antibiotics, and a lot of artificial sweeteners.

“Who was that?” the Easter Bunny asks, entering with a bowl of soup and a glass of orange juice.

“Wait, what was what?” I turn to look at the giant, pink, festive rabbit.

“Stephen King just rode away on Mr. T’s back.”

“That was…real?”

“Oh hell no. I’m just messing with you,” the Easter Bunny says, “None of this is real, in fact. Hallucinations and all. You drank a whole bottle of cough syrup.”

I wake up hours later in my room feeling slightly better but totally strung out. I hate being sick.

The End.

My 100th Post! Century Mark: ATTAINED!

7 Oct

When I saw that this would be my 100th post, I was excited and a bit daunted. I really wanted to do something special for the 100th post, but I had no idea what. After a while I decided that first, no matter what I route I took with the entry, I’d start with a special thank you to my friend Jules Litke, who talked me into starting a blog in the first place. Although she once described the blog as “like an episode of the Simpsons–the end addressing an impossibly different subject than the beginning,” there was still an obvious support. Thanks, Jules.

I’d also like to thank Dr. JP Internet–inventor of the internet. Without you, none of this would possible, and so many 13 year old men would have retained their innocence so much longer.

In preparation for this stupendous occasion, Editor and I took a walk through some of our favorite blogs. At first, we were going to do a retrospective, but that felt so tired and a little cliche. We want to move forward, think forward, write forward. We want change. Who better to see about change than President Barack Obama? So, after many, many phone calls, e-mails, and background checks, the White House decided to let us come by for an interview.

Editor and I arrive by way of police escort to the White House. We pass through the iron gates. It isn’t until now that it really hits me–I’m at the White House. I mean, Mike Tyson has been here. I wonder if he’s hiding somewhere inside. At this moment of recognizing where I am, I cannot help but recognize the inverse–where I have been. I think back to my childhood, dressed as Spiderman, running around in the driveway with my sister, holding a large piece of paper that read “AUTOGRAPHS FROM THE SON OF SPIDERMAN!” I think back the sixth grade, kissing a girl for the first time when she wanted it too. I think back to high school, and all the time I spent at Whataburger with my friends. Then I think to just last week, when I woke up at noon, watched a movie that I hated because I couldn’t reach the remote, put on pants at four o clock in the afternoon, watched a three hours of The Hills, drank a couple of glasses of wine and fell asleep under my desk. I shiver.

We pull into to the guest entry area of the White House.

“Mr. Irion?” a security guard asks as he opens the door.

“This is he.” What? Why am I talking like that?

“Welcome to the White House,” the guard says.

I hold out my hand like I saw that girl on Princess Diaries do when she was being led from her car. The security guard merely stands and looks at my hand, and then to me.

“Welcome to the White House, sir.”

“Get out of the car, Kyle,” Editor says from behind me.

“Shut the FUCK up, Editor.” I turn so Editor can see me. “I’m serious. Do not ruin this for me.” He sits back a bit and I get out of the car. I approach the guard and lean in, speaking at just above a whisper. “On the way in, that guy looked really nervous. He was sweating bullets and looking around a lot. Then he showed me a gun and winked at me.”

“Please continue into the building, sir,” the guard said. “Welcome,” the guard says to Editor. Editor smiles and thanks the guard.

To calm my nerves, I had roughly six of seven shots from my flask on the drive in. As we approach the front door it seems as if they all hit at once. I enter the White House drunk as hell.

Our first meeting in front of local media.

Our first meeting in front of local media. He's apologizing for me profusely.

We’re immediately met by a White House Aide.

“Mr. Irion, right this way, please,” He says.

The White House is immaculate–perhaps one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. There are plush couches without any cat hair, beautiful vaulted ceilings and paneled walls, also without any cat hair. For a moment I consider trying to start a new White House tradition of signing the walls just inside the entrance, walking toward one of the panels with a red crayon in my hand (I carry crayons everywhere for just such an occasion) but reconsider this notion as a guard places himself (and a clearly visible taser) between the wall and I.

Editor and I pass through several hallways before reaching the President’s meeting area.

“Can you believe where we are?!” Editor asks.

“It’s pretty incredible. I’m glad you haven’t ruined this for me yet.” I put my hand on his shoulder and he gives me a slight smile and a knowing nod. “Let’s go rape this interview,” I say. His smile fades and it seems like he’s about to say something when I turn away and walk into the meeting area.

I put a suit on for a quick photo op. This one's for mom.

This one's for mom.

“All right. Just wait in here. President Obama will be with you in just a moment.” The aide turns and leaves. For a moment, Editor and I stand in the meeting room, still awestruck by the grandness of it all.

“You know how many famous dignitaries have sat in that chair?” Editor asks, referring to the chair across from the President’s.

“You know how many famous dictionaries have shat in that hair? Stop getting emotional, Editor. We have to stay focused for this. This is the biggest interview of our lives–well, your life at least. I still plan to interview God one day. After that, I want to interview the color red.”

“Kyle, you–” Editor starts, but just at this moment, the door at the north wall of the room opens and in steps President Barack Obama.

“Mr. Iron Kyle, it’s nice to finally meet you.” Obama extends his hand to me and I take it, shaking it as firmly as I can without making him think I’m trying to assert any form of dominance. I consider giving him the “wriggler” handshake, but decide against it since that sort of thing hasn’t been funny since the Truman administration. “And you must be the infamous ‘Editor,'” Barack says. “Hello.” The President motions for me to take a seat across from him. “Can I get you anything? Water?” He points to Editor and then to me. We both shake our heads no. “All right. Well then, let’s get started, shall we?”

“Shall we,” I say. Barack looks confused. “We shall–we shall,” I correct myself. I’m incredibly nervous. “So, Mr. Obama. You’re almost a year into your first term. How do you think things are going?”

I'm telling Barack about my dating history.

I'm telling Barack about my dating history.

Barack shifts in his seat. “Coming out with guns blazing,” he says, smiling wryly. “Well, as I expected, it hasn’t been easy, but to say that the past eight or nine months have been according to plan would be a,” he pauses, “would be grossly inaccurate.”

“Blazing out with guns coming,” I say. I fucked it up again. This time, however, I just plow through. “What has gone your way, in your opinion, and what hasn’t?”

“Well certainly I would like to have been further on this health care issue–that’s one thing I wish there was more progress in. I also would have been so, so proud to get the Olympics in Chicago.”

“More like Shit-taco,” I say. I hear Editor choke out the word “no!” under his breath.

“Excuse me?” Barack asks.

“Stupid Chicago couldn’t win the Olympics for you. I’m sorry, Mr. President.”

“That word you just used to describe Chicago, that’s highly inappropriate. Chicago is a beautiful city and I won’t see it disrespected.”

“Sorry. I’m really nervous. Cracking jokes is how I calm down–well, that and shot after shot of whiskey,” I say. Barack lightens a bit.

“A whiskey man? Would you like to have a glass? I have a great eighteen year vintage of Jameson’s. You like Jameson’s?”

“Absolutely!”

“Well all right then. Tammy,” He gestures toward a woman standing behind the couch Editor is sitting on. “Would you please get us three tumblers and my bottle of Jameson’s?”

“Yes sir,” she says and goes with haste to retrieve the bottle and glasses.  While she is out getting the drinks, I decide to continue with some lighter questions.

“What’s the biggest perk of being president? I mean, not like ‘bestowing freedom to the world,’ or anything like that–although that is good, but what I’m talking about is like, presidential socks, or how instead of reading about a foreign reader’s stance you actually get to hear it straight from him or her.”

“Well,” Barack begins, holding his chin and smiling wryly,  “I do get a lot of free stuff.” We both chuckle a bit.

“Like missiles? I bet you get a shitload of free missiles,” I say, sitting at the edge of my seat looking for all the free missiles.

“No, actually, no missiles. I did get this bottle of whiskey we’re about to drink for free, though. In fact, when you leave, you can take it with you.”

“Barack, I’m so glad I voted for you.” Just then Tammy walks in with the whiskey. “Now let’s get royally shit faced.”

“No,” Barack said, “Let’s get Presidentially shit faced.” We raise our glasses and drink.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for reading. Here's to 100 more.

ACL–First Impressions

6 Oct

I went to my first music festival Sunday–Austin City Limits. It’s a three-day festival featuring over 100 bands and over 1o,000 striped tank tops.

OH! Hey man! You're standing on my foot.

OH! Hey man! You're standing on my foot.

The most popular bands there were the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, the B-52’s (Just kidding–about them being a big band. They were really there.), and Pearl Jam. If any of you follow my Twitter you may have gotten a reasonable play by play of my ACL experience. For those of you who aren’t on my Twitter boat, I’ll throw you a life line.

The drive to ACL is fun and enjoyable. It’s all nice and stuff. Derek is driving.

n509408676_1978967_7201

Hi, Derek. "Hello! Did you know your days are numbered?! LOL," Says Derek.

We drive by a number of notable roadside attractions. Derek won’t stop for any of them. Not even the “Inner Space” caverns in Georgetown, Texas. The poster had a mammoth on it. I was really excited when I saw this, until Derek told me that mammoths never, ever lived in caverns. When the same poster comes up with a sabretooth tiger instead of a mammoth, I look to Derek with a look of childlike wonderment. He simply shakes his head and points for me to keep my eyes forward.

We reach the ACL at some fucking time.

Good god there were so many people. My pre-ACL promise of “Beating up all the dudes and screwing all the girls” began to seem much, much more improbable.

As we enter the grounds, our tickets are taken. We walk a few more steps and observe the vastness that is Zilker Park. I adjust myself. Derek and I are both wearing our super-tight ACL jeans. My quads look fantastic by my package is furious. Calm down package, shit.

Inside. Chaos. Utter madness. Rain from the night before has laid upon the earth a layer of mud three inches thick. It looks like warm chocolate pudding. It smells like lake water.

Derek needs to go pee. We find the port-a-potties and stand in line. There are some girls in front of us. I weep for them. The thought of sitting down on a port-a-potty always fills me with the worst kinds of fear and sickness. “They butt is thy temple,” Psalms 21324:23

"Kyle, that isn't a real verse." "Well, Kirk, you're not a real actor OR a real evangelist, you're just a gross mix of the two."

"Kyle, that isn't a real verse." "Well, Kirk, you're not a real actor."

Kirk Cameron hates me now. My only celebrity friend is James Woods.

James woods is my only celebrity friend.

Friend.

Celebrity.

Me and the old D-bag get done with our port-a-potty adventure (peeing) and head to the main stage. My brother is there (rumored). I couldn’t find him all day.

Merely a ghost among the wall of humans in front of me.

Merely a ghost among the wall of humans in front of me.

Some Cubans forced me and Derek from our spot in front of the stage.

I saw Pearl Jam and it was awesome.

School Daze With Captain Cool

1 Oct

Today I went to my sister’s school and taught a few classes a brief lesson on creative writing.

All the students file into the room. All the chairs and desks have been pushed to the corners of the room, so all the kids just sit on the ground in front of me. It’s 8:30 am. I’m kind of hung over. My head is pounding and my stomach feels like there’s somebody throwing up in it.

“All right. Well, my name is Kyle Irion. You can call me Kyle, Mr. Irion, or Captain Cool. You can also call me Mr. Cool.”

One little boy says “Yes sir, Captain Cool.” This boy has gained my favor. In the event of a zombie outbreak, I will save him first.

“OK. Now. I’m going to teach you guys a lesson about writing, because one day, you’re going to need to learn to put your thoughts onto paper. When you get older there are things called ‘essays,’ which are pretty much long answers on tests. It’s important because even if you don’t really know 100% what you’re talking about, you can still seem like you do if you know how to write. One day, you may even go to college and major in writing essays. That’s what I did as an English major.

“There are a couple of really important things to remember when you’re writing a story. First, you need characters. You need people to do the things in your story. Some times, the people in your story will have sex.” I make an “o” shape with one hand and poke my pointer finger through it. I nod at a boy in the front. He looks scared. Why the fuck does he look like that? “Why the fuck do you look like that?” I ask him. He doesn’t answer. He just cries or some shit. I can’t remember. “Your characters may also kill each other. Your characters should be realistic and believable. For instance, if you were to put me in a story you might say ‘Kyle is thinking about killing this crying child in the front.’ –That’s believable. You’d be damn right. I want to push this kid into a river. But you know what? I don’t know where there are any rivers around here and I don’t want this kid in my car, so how do you explain this to your readers?” I look around, waiting for an answer. A little girl raises her hand.

“You tell them all that stuff?” She asks.

“Yes. that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.” I hand her the crying kid’s wallet, which I had taken moments prior. She slowly reaches over and hands the child his wallet back.

“OK. We’re running short on time, so I think it’s time for you guys to get started writing. Here’s the prompt: you’re on your way to complete a quest. Your goal is in sight. Then, as if out of nowhere, an obstacle presents itself–and the only person that can help you is your neighbor. So pick someone around you to help you succeed. Give your story a title and write ‘The End’ at the end. If you have enough time after you finish, you can draw the art for the cover.” These instructions seem pretty clear. “Any questions?” I survey the children. An Asian boy in the back raises his hand. “Hit me with it,” I say.

“Well, can we be on a mountain?”

“Yes. You can be anywhere you want. Anybody else?” A little girl in a purple shirt raises her hand. “Yes ma’am?”

“Can we have swords?”

“You can have whatever you want and be wherever you want. It’s all up to you.” A portly Hispanic boy raises his hand. “What’s up?”

“Well, does it have to be today?”

“It can be with anyone, anywhere, and anywhen.” This is not a word. “You could make your story set in 1998 or 3008.”

“So 2000 is OK?”

I sigh deeply. “No. Don’t set your story in the year 2000. Don’t do that. If you do that, you fail. You will be the only student in the room who gets their story graded and you will fail.” The class lets out an “Ah” of understanding and hurriedly gets to work.

——

When they get done they all read their stories aloud. Here’s what I gathered from the stories I heard. All children’s stories follow four simple rules:

  1. Everybody has powers.
  2. Everything can talk.
  3. Ninjas, monsters, and other characters can appear out of anywhere by simply writing “And then ____ showed up.”
  4. No character ever questions anything, no matter how bizarre or nonsensical.

——

Here are some of my favorite (real) moments from the children’s stories:

Dylon could shoot doo doo out of his hands.

Then Kerry got eaten and I was disappointed.

The British soldiers were chasing me, trying to take the crystal cheese.

The Booger monster was attacking. I went to the kitchen and got some tissues and some scissors.

I was building a mountain of candy and then I found out that I didn’t have any chocolate bricks.

Me, Cameron, Ashley, and David were walking to school. Then a ninja jumped out. Everybody died except me.

Kids are badass.

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