For the Record

by jkatejohnston

26 October 2013

Dear Max,

I get depressed when I find myself giving explanations. But this is a diary of record. So…


Remember how I said that I could hear almost all the italics and paragraph breaks in the Mudrick book? Not true. I get maybe half of them by ear. Maybe I had a run of good luck there for a while, but that’s all it was.


I’m feeling sensitive about having called knitting the N word. I hope it’s obvious that it’s only funny because of the absurd comparison between the worst thing you can say and something that’s—objectively—pretty harmless. Though Enzo did ask me, “What do you think I would rather do, get bit by a one-ton American crocodile or knitting?” And the answer was, get bit by a one-ton American crocodile. He also asked to be home schooled. And asked if he could say a bad word and when permission was granted said, “Handwork sucks!” (Handwork is finger knitting, sewing, knitting, sanding his homemade wooden knitting needles and so on. He’d rather be doing fractions.)

I remember once comparing graduate school to the holocaust. Only I’m afraid I was serious. Oh dear. This is different.


Context for the dollar bill in the butt crack. I make these wonderful refried black beans. They’re about half almost-caramelized onions and half cooked black beans pureed together and then cooked a little more. They’re plain and rich, no cumin or coriander even. And Enzo wouldn’t eat them. (He was eating some whole black beans with olive oil and salt that I’d set aside.)

Teresa: “Try these beans, they’re really good.” Enzo shakes his head. “Come on. One bite.” No go. She gets some on a clean spoon. “I’ll give you a dollar if you eat this whole bite.” And aside to me, “I know this is so bad.”

Enzo (eyeing the bite, weighing up the bargain): “I think I might barf.” But he takes the bite, gulping and then gagging.

Teresa: “Did you barf?”

Enzo: “I could have.”

Teresa: “But you didn’t. And if you did, I’d make you lick it up.” Then he was excused and started stripping for his bath but was called back to clear the table, which he did naked. So there it was, the butt crack, so inviting. Teresa got a limp old dollar bill and stuck it in there, not deep, it barely passed the cheeks, stuck there for one moment and then dropped to the floor.

This is why Grandma Clara always said, “Money is dirty, you don’t know where it’s been, wash your hands.”


A while back I wrote an entry called Inflating Slightly and afterward realized with horror that some people might take that to mean exaggerating slightly and as a sort of coy hint that what was written below was mostly true, but no promises. So—because this is a diary of record—it is all true. Any exaggeration will be extreme and instantly recognizable, like Enzo doing fractions. There will be no subtlety. When I inflate it will be literal and physical. Anything else is, as Johnson said, a picture of nothing.

I don’t have any problem with fiction that’s mostly fact-based because it’s presented as fiction, so you know where you are. I used to write that too. It didn’t turn out that well, but that’s my problem.