When interviewing people who shop at Wal-mart (as one often does), they will tell say that Jesus is the reason for the season. Now these folks may have smarts in subjects like discount shopping and satellite TV but their education is horribly lacking elsewhere. I'm not going to begin spouting atheist propaganda, for that can be found under "Dawkins, R" at the local library. I'm just here to shed light on the real reason for the season: my father. No, my sister isn't Audrey Tautou and there's no royal bloodline, despite what my last name might suggest. You see, Dad recently came out to me...as a witch.
Witch is to Wiccan as faggot is to homosexual. Slang. A perversion. Wiccans, contrary to popular belief, do not turn children into mice or attend seven-year academies in the English highlands. The religion is really much simpler than all that. It's all about getting back to basics- worshiping the obvious, like the sun, various moons and trees. And like any religion, there's ritual...but nothing crazier than drinking blood and eating skin, like ninety percent of our country has a tendency to do on Sunday mornings.
Pagans and/or Wiccans celebrated the moon in late December to early January. Then the whole Jesus thing may or may not have happened and the Christians were like, "Hey, thou shalt not worship that stick. Or that goat."
Then the pagans were like, "But you worship two sticks crossed together...and a lamb. Fuck you."
Then the Christians were like, "We're going to burn you at the stake."
And they did.
But old habits are hard to shake. I still have a cigarette with my gin and tonic and the Germanic peoples liked to burn sage on the full moon. And Christians, being such a peaceful bunch, figured it’d be easier to just turn every pagan holiday into one about them, setting everyone on the righteous path by default.
Except Dad. He's always been sort of old fashioned, I suppose. He holds onto three thousand year old beliefs like I hold onto my Commerce Bank debit card, even though the sign has clearly changed to display “TD.” It's a bragging right. I caught on first. I couldn’t help but wonder, though: Was my father’s new obsession genuine or just a fad?
He has a thing for hobbies. A new one creeps its way into our lives every few years. Some might argue that this is a condition of the American male. Men have all of these standards to meet, forcing them to constantly reengage their minds on new ways to escape the mundane realities of everyday life. For generations, Dads have been known to build model trains, go hunting or gain mistresses and second families.
Gawd, living is just so hard!
My Daddy Dearest just has a curious mind. I’ve seen him be curious about everything from Cajun music, to boating, to police regalia, to videography, to sound recording, to playing in a band, to collecting guns. Every time a new instruction manual arrives in the mail, my mother, sister and I must take a moment to consider how our lives will be affected. “What room will he take over next and how much money will it cost us?” my mom mutters. She, more than any of us, has the hardest time with these phases. She has to live with the man. “How long will this last?”
I have to break it to her. “I think this one might stick,” I say. She inhales deeply and takes a long sip of her Chardonnay.
It took some conjuring, but I was able to look back many years- back to the days before developing a thick armor of snark and irony, back to my starry-eyed youth. I remember sitting in his library and secretly rummaging through piles of books on the occult, encyclopedias of faeries and volumes of the great Victorian horror writers. Oh, what an enticing find for the budding homosexual! Most dads had books on cars, mine had an entire escapists’ library, complete with pretty ladies in sparkly dresses and knights in shining armor! I attributed this collection not to a genuine interest in pagan studies, but to a side effect of living in America during the seventies and early eighties. Everyone loved high fantasy then, right? RIGHT?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my family was dealing with a genuine passion. If there’s one thing my father has been consistent about, it’s been his insatiable interest in science fiction and fantasy. Frankly, I’m surprised the SyFy logo isn’t permanently burned into the bottom of all of our TV screens. Shrieking ingénues, enchanted swords and legends of monsters in the woods surrounded my childhood. Every time one of the great genre films came on, he would relentlessly try to make me sit down and watch it with him. Was that a possible tactic to bond with his son? No. I’m thinking it was indoctrination. Looking back, I can blame my over-active imagination, skewed sense of reality, tendency to daydream and desperate need for whimsy and romance on that man. Before committing himself to the crushed velvet robe, he was just a boy with his head in the clouds. Am I not myself just a boy with his head in the clouds? Does warlockery run in the family?
Yes. At a young age, I knew that. The proof is scrawled all over a second grade writing assignment:
Ruby is my birthstone
Young at heart
I had such a strong sense of self as such an early age. I forecasted exactly how I’d end up as an adult man. This is a staggering piece of evidence, especially the first E that stands for “Enchanted.” It’s like when creepy kids in the movies start drawing pictures of aliens fifteen years before an invasion. Maybe my mother had hidden sketchpads full of drawings of my powers bringing forth the End of Days. If my father was finally able to harness his magic abilities, maybe I could, too! The more I investigated my personal history, the more I became convinced that I just might be enchanted…or just a magnet for the bizarre.More startling evidence, soon to come.