I have found that the real characters in my life are those of which have been emotionally malnourished in some way; those that have put a “crease” or two across my back, have folded my abdomen. Occasionally I grab chuckles from some; those that climb the soap box, defining and explaining my problems for me, reciting from the “Book of False Facts.”
Character walks with a pronounced limp. A curvature of the spine quite literally keeps my eye… hostage. The house I currently rent was built in 1900; structurally exhausted it leans back almost 20 degrees as it wants to nap; we have an understanding, we both wanna nap.
I realized early on what “character” was (as it where) and its profound effect on me, good and bad.
I was nine or ten years old, the oldest among three siblings. Our first babysitter Mary Ann inherently had what I interpreted as character. Mary Ann was a babysitter of literature proportions; as far back as I can remember, no other caretaker flashed her boobies as often as she did from so many different places, rooms, perspectives, and for her own reasons, as she did. She was full of tricks and as far as I was concerned worth every bit mother was paying. Certainly she pre-dated Harry Potter; the dirty, satirical pornographic lead, not as of yet parodied on the internet. Occasionally Mary Ann would demonstrate her powers of magic for me, and on occasion my body shuddered applause for all of her tricks, the one’s that worked… and the one’s that really worked! As you might imagine, this whole thing had quite the effect on my inner stick-figure.
And as God is my witness, Mary Ann did drown a house fly in the bathroom sink, and then brought him back to life! First things first: She showed me her boobies, right!? NOW WHAT! She then screamed for me to run and grab a salt-shaker. My hands flew through the cupboard laying waste to the cumin, paprika and vanilla extract… fuck it, I ain’t got time for this-I grabbed the Morton Salt container; the boobie wands are sure to be used again during the resurrection: The fly did-dead-die next to a depleted bar of Irish Spring. He was dead on his back, staring at nobody next to a dime-sized smudge of exhausted, liquid; some emerald pillow-puddled real-estate.
Mary Ann lit a scented candle, “Apple Pie” I do recall… And yes again, she yanked down her tube-top, the boobies flopped out, only this time her nipples were hard, one pointing east, and the other kind of a shoe-gazer if you ask me. Why she never turned off the bathroom light I’ll never know… I wanted everything to be perfect and right, the whole circus: the wayward boobies, the fresh baked smell of apple pie and the fluttering of a dead fly’s wings.
Mary Ann screamed at me, “GIVE HIM THE SALT” then flipped me off and flipped the fly off. I just figured it was part of the ceremony. I poured what seemed to be about a half a table spoon of salt on the wet corpse and we waited. In long, drawn out, even tones she explained to me that the salt would extract the water from the fly’s body, and that at first his legs would twitch, then wings would flap, he would turn over, see her breasts, life-giving breasts, then be on his way.
I believed the salt to have burned one last sensation in him, though dead he was and dead he would continue. I saw a leg kick, a wing beat, a flap or a shrivel. In hindsight, he looked like a raisin buried in a gram of cocaine. But one last time she called for my attention, at which point she simultaneously yanked down the tube top and performed my magic for what I believe to be the final action for my deception: She flicked the poor salted bastard down the sink and into the drain whilst I took in those beautiful “wands” again.
Mary Ann remained my babysitter for the entire summer. Her parlor tricks showed less and less promise during those months; she couldn’t breathe underwater. It didn’t matter. She was a character and instilled in me “character-itis.”
For all of our lesser human-traits, there exists: the Mary Ann, a salty dead fly and kids like me.