20 April 2013

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

I have some notes here from the last few weeks in which Enzo displays his delighted interest in death, violence, explosions and world domination. And it all seems a lot less amusing since the Boston bombings. I resent big public events for making every day life seem somehow unworthy of attention. They’re so far off the scale of normal human existence that I think the only sensible thing to do is ignore them.

But a kid died. And the nineteen-year-old they caught in the boat is a kid too as far as I’m concerned. I know from doing criminal defense work that males between the ages of 16 and 24 are pretty much unexploded bombs. Their brains are still growing. They’re probably at their smartest and most impulsive–a terrifying combination.

In the meantime I have the following notes:

I was reading Enzo a book about endangered species. It said that as the human population grows and grows, there’s less room for animals.  Enzo said, “That only means one thing. Kill more babies. I mean it. Guns.”


Enzo got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. After he peed he grasped his flashlight and said, “I’ll try to get back safe. I’m way too young to die,” and then he squared his shoulders and marched down the dark hallway toward his room.

I know death doesn’t mean anything to him except maybe danger and adventure. It barely means anything to me. The closest I can come to confronting mortality is grumbling about my teeth.

Meanwhile a friend of mine has to have a hysterectomy because of precancerous cells on her pap smear. Her doctor helpfully informed her that it’s probably because she has too much belly fat, and belly fat stores estrogen, and too much estrogen puts you at risk for various cancers. Another friend, newly in need of birth control (hurrah!) went to the doctor. He looked at her chart and back at her and said, “How old are you?” She’s forty-eight. “You don’t need birth control,” he said. But just to be sure, he ran some tests. He sent her the results in a one word email:  MENOPAUSE.

We all laughed at the stupidity of doctors, and I made a mental note to get a grip about my gums.