Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Too Young for Manticores

Status:  Chipper

What's playing on Spotify?  RUSTED WHEEL by Silversun Pickups

I used to smoke. I was never that guy who rolled out of bed and lit up the instant conciousness was breached, but I was a pack a day for a good five years, long enough to be...a smoker.  

My stepfather at the time was putting on some pounds and I suggested that working out might be wise.  He just looked me. So I sweetened the deal, I told him that if he started working out, I'd quit smoking. I didn't actually think he was going to do it.  

Granted, he didn't do it immediately.  In fact, I moved away for six months and actually forgot about our little bet until I came back and he was thirty pounds lighter, tan and flushed with life. Racquetball.  After we hugged, he looked at me, looked at the pack of Marlboro Lights resting next to my keys and said, "That's your last pack, bitch."

And it was. I remember being pissed because I had only three cigarettes left.  Three piddly, measly cigarettes just didn't seem like enough of a head's up before I took the big plunge into non-smokedom.  But what could I do? If I didn't quit I'd be a punk, and that was unacceptable.  Ain't no punks around these parts.  So...I quit.  One offhand, half kidding bet that probably changed the course of my life. 

My quest into becoming a novelist began a little something like that.  Fate and an offhand dismissal. 

A dare. 

Twelve years old.  Over my big cousin's house who I thought was the coolest kid in the universe.  Rummaging through his stuff while he was talking on the phone I stumble on the craziest creature I've ever seen in my life--a picture of a manticore.  Body of a lion, head of a man, wings of a bat and the tail of a scorpion (or spikes, pick your folklore), I was riveted.  I'd never seen anything like it before in my life.  Never even imagined it. 

I asked my cousin if it was a good book and he was like, "Oh my God, yeah, it's awesome!  Best book I ever read." 

Of course, when I asked him if I could read it, he said, no way.  Evidently he thought I was too young.  Too young!  I was twelve for crying out loud.  He then pried the book from my fingers and placed it back onto his bookshelf next to the other two, and these books were even cooler.  The second book had a centaur, griffin, and a sword-wielding man fighting a dragon.  I couldn't take my eyes off it, I even remember sniffing the book, as if I might smell the char of fire or hear the ring of steel.  The last book had a warrior and a giant spider on the front looking at a castle being built by centaurs. 

I NEEDED to read these books.  Which was nuts because before that moment I was just like any other healthy seventh grade boy; I thought reading was a waste of time.  Why read when there were video games to be played?  Until now.

I begged, cajoled, pleaded, threatened until finally he said, "Fine!  You're not going to understand any of it any but you better treat them well.  They're like treasure." 

I started reading them that day.  On that afternoon, life as I knew was altered forever as I was plunged into a magical realm where every person was born with a magical talent, be it a purple spot on the wall or the ability to conjure flying swords into trees.  I was spellbound. 

To be continued my friends.  It's a cool little story but I've discovered I prefer blogs to be short and sweet.  Allow me to pay that forward.  Plus, it makes next week's blog's topic easy to figure out. :)

-Steve out