Friday, April 22, 2011

A Warning for Young People

October 6, 1992…

Katy, it’s me. It’s only me. Katy? Set down your toy, Katy. Set down your toy and come over here for a moment. There is something your mother and I have been wanting to discuss with you.
Katy dear, now… No, set down your… your- bloody fucking hell, Nancy, where in the blazes did the child find a crossbow? A… Katy, set down the, the crossbow, and sit down right here between your mother and me. Leave the crossbow there for now.

Now, Katy, you are getting to be a big girl now. You are nearly seven years old, and that is getting to be a very big girl indeed now. And when other people begin to notice that you are getting to be a big girl, other people are going to begin offering you things now. They are going to begin offering you things and your mother and I agree that you are old enough that you need to – indeed, you really must – be made aware of what could happen to you if you accept the things that they will be offering to you.

We think you are getting old enough that it is important that you know…

Now Katy, some of these other people are going to come up to you and they are going to look friendly. They are going to be grown-ups and they are going to look friendly, and they are going to be smiling and have very clean fingernails. These people might even be members of our family or your teachers at school.

They will come up right here to our front door and ring our doorbell and they are going to try and talk to you about something called “God.”  They will smile-smile-smile and they will show you a big black book with lots of stories in it, and the stories are going to be about this God fellow.

Your mother and I know you are going to be tempted to read these stories and learn about God. And that is okay, Katy. If you feel you need to read the stories, it is okay. We always support you in whatever decisions you make in life, and if you end up wanting to read the stories in the big black book, we support you in that decision.

But you’re a big girl now, Katy, and there is something that you should know.

Do you remember last summer? Last summer when we were up at Grandpa’s land on the lake? Do you remember how your Grandpa and your Uncle Jeff and me, we dug that big hole in the ground because Grandpa thought he was digging a basement for his dream house?

You were out there playing with your Tonka trucks and your brother, he was playing with his… his dolls. And Grandpa and your Uncle Jeff and me, we had a bulldozer, and we dug that enormous hole out on Grandpa’s land on the lake, even though I had a very big, important case the next week and ended up fucking it up royally because I had to be out helping Grandpa chase a daydream instead of at my office where I could… could…

Ahem.

Okay, so you remember the weekend, at least.

And you remember how we hit that underground cave? The bigger hole under our hole, so big the bulldozer almost fell inside?

When you sat there next to it, pouring muriatic acid and ice cubes and aluminum foil into plastic bottles and then throwing them into the big underground cave right before they blew up?

Well, Katy… You see, Grandpa and your Uncle Jeff and I went down inside that cave. And we found some things down there. Like, for example, we found a great big rock, and the rock had something carved on it.

Your mother took a picture of the carvings on the great big rock, and we took the picture to a man I know. And this man – he wears mostly black and he does not cut the hair at the sides of his head at all – and he told us that the rock carvings were words. He told us the words said, “HERE LIES THE LAST OF THE ELOHIM” in a very old language called ancient Hebrew.

Do you know what “Elohim” means, Katy? No?

“Elohim” is a word that the ancient Hebrews used for God at the very, very beginning of that big black book I was talking about. And the thing about “Elohim” is that it seems to be a plural word when they use it, which is very weird, in a way, because these people say there is one God and one God only. These people are very adamant about that, in fact.

But back to the cave.

Grandpa and your Uncle Jeff and I, we found that rock carving, but we also found something else in that cave in the ground. We found an enormous pile of slimy, stringy stuff. Do you remember that?

There were piles and piles of this slimy, stringy stuff, and it stank just awful, and it stretched out in every direction. Almost like an octopus. There were piles of it in the main cave, and then there were thinner strands of it that went out in every direction, and they got thinner and thinner until they disappeared into the walls. And Grandpa and your Uncle Jeff and I, we tried to pull the strands out of the wall, but it broke off in our hands after we pulled out maybe 700 feet of it. Maybe more.

And I cut off a very small piece of the slimy, stringy stuff, and I brought it to a man I know. And this man, he usually wears something called a lab coat and looks at everything he can get his pale white hands on through a microscope.

And this man told me that the slimy, stringy stuff was something he called “dendrites.” Do you know what dendrites are, Katy?

You have dendrites in you, Katy. They are part of your nervous system, and they spread all the way through your body, which is getting to be very big now, as I’ve already said. And dendrites are part of nerve cells, which are something that is always found inside of the body of a person or the body of a bird, or the body of… I don’t know, a giraffe, and almost never ever found in huge piles in a cave under the ground.

And the man in the lab coat, he looked at something called “mitochondria” inside the nerve cells. And – that’s right, Katy, mitochondria are the power stations of the cells in your body. You remember your science class!

But the thing about mitochondria is, you can tell all sorts of things by looking at it, if you know what to look for. Like, for example, you can tell how long a species has been around. Or you can tell how many times removed our family is from Hillary Clinton.
But whatever it was that left the slimy, stringy stuff, the man in the lab coat said its mitochondria was several billion years old. That is billion with a “b”. And that is much, much too old to be a living species on our planet, which is Earth.

The man in the lab coat told me that, and then he asked me where it was I had found the dendrite, Katy. But I did not tell him.

Instead, I ran out of there as fast as I could, and I drove back up to Grandpa’s land. I climbed back down inside the hole, and I walked past the carving that said, “HERE LIES THE LAST OF THE ELOHIM.”

I looked at the piles and piles of slimy, stringy stuff, but it was not really slimy anymore. It was dried up and flaking and falling away. I tried to save some pieces of it, only it was drying up and turning into dust.

It had been a huge nerve outlet center, with dendritic arms that stretched out for miles – maybe stretched out across the whole planet since the time of the ancient Hebrews! – but now it was dead and turning into dust. See? I put a piece of it in this box I have here.

And your Grandpa and Uncle Jeff and I, we filled the hole back in, Katy. We filled that hole back in and we never told anyone about it.

We never told anyone else about it, Katy, but I am telling you. I am telling you because you are getting to be a very big girl now and someday soon, someone is going to try and talk to you about God.

And when they do, Katy, you need to know the story I told you just now.

God is dead. He is in this box.

Now, nighty-night, Katy. Sweet dreams…

33 comments:

  1. I could write volumes, but I'll only say this:

    Philip K. Dick has nothing - repeat; nothing - on you, Katy....

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  2. It seems to me your father struck a nerve.

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  3. As is typical for me, I laughed inappropriately at the lack of religion.

    7-year old, bright eyed, looks up at tie-wearing Mormon and says "God is dead. He's in a box. We buried him."

    Also funnier when you this 7 year old has a crossbow.

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  4. Thank you, Will. My religious reference blogs get a much softer response than anything else I write. It always reminds me of Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood,” where this anti-preacher goes into a town to preach against Jesus, and this secular town basically goes, “Eh. Who cares either way?” But I keep writing them anyway, always knowing that sex or racial blogs will get a bigger response…

    JerseyDave: There you go! I missed the obvious here. I should have titled it “On God’s Last Nerve.” Damn… I might have to do a do-over on the title.

    K. Syrah: And there it is. There’s the angle I missed. I either need to let these blogs incubate for an extra day or else shake myself loose of the writers on my contact list who are better than me…

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  5. Old news, the NYT reported that back in 1966. It does make for a neat bedtime story for a 7 year old however, in a morbid kind of way.

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  6. Hey, when you start getting offers to have your writing optioned, PLEASE write a part for ME!!

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  7. "PLEASE write a part for ME!!"

    Speaking from experience, it's easy to get in over your head when that happens, or perhaps it was lose your head.

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  8. I love the writing in this. Masterful.

    On another subject, I had a crossbow around this time too. I built it myself, and no, I wasn't much older than yourself.

    I was just an odd child.

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  9. That made me laugh my ass off. You're an incredible writer!

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  10. Hillary's headApril 24, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    All children should be so lucky at seven to play with crossbows and acid bombs, yes brought up tough, indoctrinated with atheism at an early age, but preferable still to the easter bunny, don't you think? Got to learn about a dead language, the nervous system, cellular biology - all of which makes you so smart now. Happy Easter? No?

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  11. Hey there, Baddog. It seems that about 80% of mankind missed the memo about the death of God. Besides, I hold out the remote possibility that the Elohim might just be a sort of “creator god” and not the head honcho/Ground of All Being. Especially since the Universe continues to exist.

    Rafa: Thanks! I hereby dub thee “Peter,” and upon this rock I will build my Church…

    Anonymous: It’s always survival of the fittest, baby…

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  12. Hi, Kait Lisbeth. Thank you… It’s always reassuring to know that there are people out there who find the death of God and kids playing with weapons to be funny. And that some of them have managed to find my blog!

    Hillary’s head: Yes, Happy Easter! Since you word things like THAT, it does seem like I hit way too many things in this one. I’ve got a “Versatile Blogger” Award that I won a few weeks ago sitting around here somewhere. I owe it all to Dad…

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  13. All that matters is now. You are beautifully in it. I swear. To Hell with the rest.

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  14. So true, so true. But of course, fitness is frequently over rated.

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  15. Versatility beats a good rack hands down every time. um.. err... I adore you and your writing.

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  16. Oh Maxine: I hope so. I was reading about Hell ‘round the time I wrote last week’s blog. I’d rather just sit here and stare out my window than have to deal with, you know, flesh-eating birds, intestine-chewing worms, and rivers of fire.

    Anonymous: Very probably it is. I have quit all kinds of bad habits over the years after being told of the health benefits to doing so – how I’d feel great afterwards and have more energy, etc. Never panned out that way. If quitting bad things doesn’t add to the quality of life, why should starting good things?

    JerseyDave: So what are you saying about my rack?

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  17. OK, I'll bite. Where did you get hold of a crossbow?

    And I began reading this thinking it would be the Child Molester Talk...you'd have crossbowed the Molestor, huh?

    ~ Star of Morning* (formerly Bill the Butcher)

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  18. Hey there, Star of Morning. Would that Sirius, the dog star? I think that’s what is typically called the star of morning… Anyway, when I was a kid, my uncle – who was only a few years older than me – used to work at a resale shop on weekends, picking up donations. They would get weapons occasionally (mixed in boxes with other junk) and they couldn’t sell them, so he’d bring them home. I crossbows, swords… all kinds of cool stuff as a kid thanks to him…

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  19. If I knew where to start I'm pretty sure I wouldn't know where to stop.

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  20. JerseyDave: I just wish fewer people loved me for my mind and winning personality…

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  21. I love your blog- and thanks to Rafa I found it! Your tales of crossbows, god being dead, bigamy, gay pride, and overall amazingness make my day :) Btw our shortened names of Kate and Katy mean horny in Norsk, except it's Kåte (Kot-y), just had to throw that out there cause I think it's pretty awesome haha ;)

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  22. Thanks, Kait Lisbeth. I wasn’t aware of the Norsk meaning… That’s too much truth in advertising for me. Names are supposed to be ironic, like calling the tall guy “Shorty” or the fat guy “Tiny.” You can’t call the horny chicks “Horny.”

    JerseyDave: I’ve made note of the date and alerted Wikipedia.

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  23. Lots of incredibly good reading here, thank you! I had been looking on yahoo when I identified your article, I’m going to add your feed to Google Reader, I look forward to much more from you.

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  24. Thank you, Anon. I was afraid that the part about the helicopter and kangaroo might have been a little over the top, but I left it in anyway. Oh wait… What was I talking about?

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  25. loving the few posts of yours i just read...gotta follow you now.

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  26. id: Thank you and glad to have you here. I’ve only been writing here for a couple months, so there’s not much to see yet. But starting… well, one week from today, I’m hoping I can start writing more often…

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  27. Katy,

    Never been here before, linked in off of K. Syrah’s site, great post, I was really hooked all the way through. Love your style!

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  28. Thanks, Billy. It is amazing how much of my traffic is from K. Syrah’s site. I suppose if I posted a little more often, that might go both ways…

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  29. Hah funny. I had a crossbow at this age but it was made out of lego. I also had one of those lego robotics things that had a light sensor in it. Set up a trap so when my mom opened my door in the morning it would shoot a dart at her.

    +followed

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  30. God would still be alive if your dad hadn't pulled part of his brain out! haha

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    Replies
    1. BTW, I'm glad to have made it to your new site!

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    2. I sort of wish the new site had not been necessary, but I'm going to make the most of it.

      I really want to start having more substantive blogs. And probably also piss off more people...

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