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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Assignment: write an essay about why you are who you are today.

Submitted: September 01, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 01, 2012





It was only three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, and while the country was still recovering from the numerical and emotional losses of the month, my mum was painting a giant sun on our living room wall and telling me to paint “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” in my favorite color in the middle of the gold orb. I chose “Indian Summer” because the reddish tone glowed nicely against the yellow, and because the name reminded me of the season that seemed so far away but gave me hope. By the time next summer hit, America would defeat all the bad guys, we would be strong, and no one would ever try and touch us again! My mum and I felt the same emotional blow everyone else did when the towers fell, but we’ve always looked at the sun behind the rain clouds and it helped our family recover.

My grandpa Aloysius knocked in the rhythm of “All Along The Watchtower” and let himself in. In between ramblings of “this weekend’s adventures of me and the sweet baby J” and “those foot-in-mouth fundamentalists” he pulled two tickets for a Hungarian circus out from his iKayak hat and asked if I’d accompany him. Before I had time to answer, he was back to complaining about Christians and republicans to the adults in my family, and I didn’t mind. I liked to listen to his rants about things I didn’t understand that almost never seemed to lead anywhere but to another rant about something I didn’t understand. To keep me quiet, he’d bring me psychology and statistics tests he gave to his students while he went on about this one time when he was dropping acid and this one time when the future preacher in his class was put in the corner with the “most likely to be an idiot” hat and scolded by his cardboard Picard stand-up doll.

A week later, he picked me up and took me to the circus. The acts were spectacular, but after the show was over, we made our way to the back and met the people behind it. The relatively pretty tight-rope woman was the Czech-Slovakian wife of the Hungarian ring master. They were a rather nice couple, and I enjoyed their company, but who interested me more was the trapeze artist who wasn’t more than a year my senior-she was the daughter of the two and her name was Catalina. She wore glasses taped to the sides of her head so they wouldn’t fall off when she performed. Aloysius and I were invited to breakfast at the Huddle House before their last performance the next day, and we happily agreed to accompany them.

On the way home, there were two clowns in Aloysius’ back seat. I was getting dropped off first, so I had the honor of shotgun, even though my legs weren’t more than a foot and a half in length. Aloysius smoked a foul smelling piece that looked like a hand-rolled cigarette and discussed politics with the American-native clowns. After stopping to buy a bottle of Absinthe, I was dropped off at my house. Aloysius told me to beg the sweet baby J to have mercy on his ignorant northern soul, and to write our president a letter telling him how the people feel before I hit the sack. He always referred to himself as an ignorant northerner. When the university he taught at employed someone he disliked, such as their most recent provost, he would write fake articles describing the tragic incident of said employ running over the ignorant northern pedestrians as some form of prejudice, and only his best friend, the sweet baby J forgave his uncivilized ways.

Mum walked into my room while I was writing G.W.Bush hate mail. She lit a cigarette and asked what I was so upset about, and I told her I didn’t know but Aloysius sure did hate the guy. She went on with stories on when Aloysius tried to deny my existence before I was brought into the world, and when he would read to me from his journal from the sixties just days after the statute of limitations had run out. She gave me a kiss, read a chapter from The Hobbit, and let me get some rest before I had to prepare for the Huddle House breakfast date.

Aloysius picked me up at seven o’clock sharp. The moment I walked in, he started quoting Jimi Hendrix and asked me what each quote meant, and I was wrong for a good portion of the quiz due to the answers being consistently being “because He was a stoner so his brain created [this image] for [this reason] due to [this chemical].”

After enjoying a breakfast filled with political debate, we made our way back to the fair grounds. I drank lemonade with a snake wrapped around my leg and helped set things up for the last performance. There were forty-five minutes until the start of the show, and Aloysius informed the family we wouldn't be staying. We said our good-byes and just before we started to turn around, Rocky the Elephant, caused a scene.

Rocky started growling, at first it was a low hum, then the sound began to build in dynamic. He stomped, hard enough to knock me to the ground. Aloysius lifted me to my feet and held my hand as we sprinted to the car. I was in tears as we ran from the rampaging elephant, but Aloysius calmly explained the concept of Degrees of Freedom in between breaths until we arrived at his car.

It started to rain, and we just sat in the car for a moment to get over the shock. I looked across the car and say my grandpa Aloysius, as calm and still as a frozen lake, wearing a Mr. Bubble  shirt. He began talking about that time he went to seattle to photograph everything important.

"Blanche said she had 'always depended on the kindness of strangers.' I replied that I had usually relied upon myself as the first and the last resort, but that the stuff in the middle was mostly like trying to light a match in the wind."

"What do you mean Aloysius?"

"Listen. If you always vote liberal, take the Bible with a grain of salt, and tell the truth, you may not end as an upper-middle class psychology-statistics professor with hundreds of fans and no friends, and you definitely won't be a politician, but you will make a bigger difference in everyone’s life than a democratic president ever could, and that's saying something."

"Well, thank you Aloysius, I think."

"Don't thank me! I said you will make a difference, that means you haven't done squat yet."

I’ve shaped my entire life around the goals an insane and genius old man gave me during an elephant attack, and while friends and peers claim I may have changed their lives forever, I’ve done nothing. No matter how long it takes, though, I intend to follow Aloysius’ advice until I’ve done something.

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