|Jake The Jedi
04-97 by Caleb John Clark
Jake is 3. He sports a blond pony tail, Vulcan eye brows and a body that is Klingon strong and stump solid like his father, John’s. John is my roommate and a long time sporadic ranter who’s been on the NoEnd list since the beginning.
After two months of living with Jake he now knows my name and understands that I am not just an apparition that comes and goes like his family’s other friends. He holds my hand when we watch the tractors grating the road outside. We play soccer together an he hits me just like I’m family when he wants attention.
I have learned that three year olds are in the midst of a daily process that consists entirely of figuring out life’s boundaries and rules by trial and error. This is Jake’s full time job. I learned this by enduring two months of having all my toys taken and my time sucked up at his whim. But self preservation finally kicked in and now I have finally learned how to combat his cuteness by lowering my voice and responding to questions with fatherly force. But the real trick is having something to back up the words with. Now when he walks into my room and grabs my MacDonald’s Tasmanian tractor and says cutely,
I respond without deadly the hesitation that could lead to the loss of my toy.
“No, that stays there,” I rumble.
“Because I said so.”
This by itself means nothing to him. What means something is the last time he grabbed my tractor and ran I caught him and gently took it out of his clenched fist. Fatherly force at this point comes down to the fact that I’m bigger then he is. Thus we come to an understanding that preserves not only my sanity, but also my toys. I had help here from watching a similar understanding his parents pioneered (every parent is a sort of pioneer) that keeps their sanity duct taped together as well.
Jake has recently learned to use English deftly, and it’s downright scary. Last week he bolted from his parent’s room chased by his father’s booming voice, “Jake! Get back here and pick this up!”
Careening down the steps I heard Jake retort,
“I don’t have time.”
A bewildered father walked into my room sputtering, “did you hear that!?”
Recently John was in Boston surprising his brother on his birthday, so the burden of making sure Jake’s evolution as a human involved seeing “Return Of The Jedi” fell on the shoulders of me and his mother, Leslie. Jake’s first movie ever had been “Empire Strikes Back” where he took one look at the previews and immediately fell asleep from sensory overload cradled in his papa’s massive arms, his ears covered by his papa’s callused hands.
This time when the “Jedi” previews started he placed himself on the sticky floor safely behind a seat. His loving mother also joined him on the floor for moral support. Occasionally, when the sound dipped from blaring to just loud, he would peak in-between the seats in complete awe. He reminded me of the time I saw “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” and managed to fit my entire body under the seat when the giant squid attacked. I was a small kid.
After a while he realized he wasn’t going to die in this dark, horrificaly loud flashing cave of doom. After all he would have been dead by now from the incomprehensible cacophony of violence and sex in the previews. But he was still breathing so I guess he figured it was safe to stand up and grab white knuckle hard onto the seat in front of him. It was like watching a kid in the front seat of his first roller coaster ride, which in fact was exactly what was happening in his head.
30 minutes into the movie he made full seat contact and became an official American Movie goer, the usual lifetime membership immediately bestowed upon his young brain as effectively as the popcorn oil had managed to cover his entire body.
I observed as Jake watched Jaba The Hut. His face moved with every emotion, his eyes scanning the screen as an entire world, his mouth even drooling like Jaba’s. I watched all this and was stunned at what a powerful thing a movie is. I’d become jaded.
About mid-way through the movie, during a boring talking part, Jake realized there was a “behind” in the theater. Up until this point his world had only been 180 degrees forward. Now he turned around in his chair to check it out this new world. I started to turn him back when I realized that I hadn’t turned around in the middle of movie and taken a good look in ages either. I turned. Nicely rowed up flickering faces greeted me. Jake said “Hi” showing his devastatingly cute smile complete with raised Vulcan eyebrows. People smiled and said “Hi” back. This was after all “Star Wars” where kids rule over all other beings.
The evil Emperor scared the piss out of him, literally I think. But since he was now a card carrying member of the American movie going public the idea of hiding behind the chair had been forever wiped from his brain. All he could do was just sat back and get petrified. His poor mother tried to assure him it wasn’t real, each time meeting with thousand yard stares from Jake. I did my part by whispering key suggestions into his ear as he watched: “silly Ewok”, “good spaceship”, “cool Han Solo”, “bad guys lose”, “The Force”, “this is warp speed”, “this is the cool part”. I was subliminally anchoring concepts to be brought out by future obsessions that will surely cost his parents dearly.
And so I did my job and felt proud as we left the theater. On the drive back Jake passed out immediately. It’d been a hard night and his brain needed to see the blackness of his eye lids while it processed the terabits of data recently blasted it at it.
But the Force is strong with this one. He will recover to view again!