February 16, 2012 by Ray Yanek
Author’s Note: Before reading what comes below, rest assured that I am actively in therapy.
I met the Smurfs through an 8-track tape on which they sang a variety of silly songs. When they were on TV, my pajamed-ass was front and center. I didn’t move. I just let the typical wonder, amusement, magic, and so forth fill me up. But my young self couldn’t name the other strange feeling, the feeling that kind of made me hurt. I can now though. That feeling was longing.
I couldn’t get enough Smurf. Listening to the 8-track sixty-two times a day wasn’t enough. Watching every single episode on TV wasn’t enough. Drawing pictures of them, thinking about them, talking to them in my head (see above note concerning therapy) wasn’t enough either.
Then I understood. I wanted the Smurfs to come and live with me.
So I did what any good Christian kid would do—I prayed. I asked God to convince the Smurfs to sack up and move their mushroom village under my bed while I was asleep that night. I’d never tell, I promised. I’d keep them safe from that prick Gargamel. Gargamel’s cat, however, I would turn to the good side, because I knew that cat, like all cats, was inherently good. I’d watched Tom and Jerry and knew about the grand conspiracy to slander the feline race.
Anyway, I prayed. I fell asleep thinking about all the things the Smurfs and I would do. We would have grand adventures, they would teach me the rules for replacing lame-ass nouns and verbs with the much more powerful “smurf” and we would have deep conversations.
When I awoke the next morning, I found no relocated mushroom village under my bed.
I believed in the Easter Bunny, too. I enjoyed hunting through the house for candy well enough. Coloring eggs was, you know, okay.
But I believed, really, for no other reason than the fact that I saw the Easter Bunny as one more citizen in that fantasy world I knew was just over the plain. I knew it was there, damn it, and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be that one human those fantasy creatures trusted and accepted and brought into their realm.
Despite that bullshit with the Smurfs, I was still convinced it was going to happen. In preparation for eventual introduction to that world, I figured I’d better learn as much about it as I could. It was Easter; the bunny was coming, and I wasn’t going to miss my chance.
So I left the Easter Bunny a questionnaire. Multiple choice, because I wasn’t sure how dexterous a bunny would be with a pen.
I only remember one question. “What color are you?” The choices were ‘brown’, ‘pink’, ‘white’.
He checked brown. I was devastated. I knew the ‘real’ Easter Bunny was pink.
While scrolling through the TV channels the other night, I saw the movie Anonymous listed in the pay-per-view section. Being a huge Shakespeare fan, I highlighted the channel and was one click away from bringing the movie viewing experience into my home.
I knew the movie was based on the minority belief that Shakespeare wasn’t the true author of his plays; rather, they were penned by a high-born noble like Edward De Vere. I know the argument; I know the evidence; and I’m in the boat with most scholars who think the controversy is ridiculous. But still, it was Shakespeare in some regard. And I was bored.
My thumb lingered over the remote control.
There were other things in my life though, other things I believed in despite what people said. Other things that I could never imagine as untrue.
Ultimately, I chose not to rent the movie. I watched re-runs of Ghost Hunters instead.
Somewhere between hearing Jason and Grant say “what the hell was that?” and “there wasn’t anybody else in the room” I further decided I won’t read any more about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Not in magazines. Not on-line. Not at all.
Does not wanting to know any more make me uninformed? A member of the blind masses?
But if wanting to believe that a small-town boy can make it big and become a successful writer makes me ignorant, then I’ll sit here in my small town, completely content with the idea that people are counting me before they fall asleep.