Don Television

When I was young, I used to get down in the ball pit, like really get down and sorta settle, so that the hard plastic at the bottom was cool against my back and the balls were like a loose kinda substrate above me. Being always at that time wanting to pretend I was something else, mainly like different types of animals, and having been given such a good, what’s a word you’d use? Medium? Such a good medium to play pretend with, well naturally I found it was my instinct to get down and burrow, to lie in wait, listening for rumbling in the tubes, the way a prairie dog might listen for stampeding cattle. Other times I was a kinda predator. There was a scaring component to the hiding component. I guess I was like a rattlesnake that way. I’d hiss to signal I was in there, maybe disturb the balls a little bit. Then I’d strike. 

I was a shapeshifting thing back then, which is something I’ll readily admit to now, some distance from the fact. I was never straight with anybody. A lot of waking hours I was a type of animal. I see that pretty clearly now. I’ve been doing a lot of, what you’d call it, introspection. I think if your ma heard me say that she’d laugh. But I can’t help it, the desert is an introspective place. When you don’t have a lot to look at, well, you start to look inside. I think if you stay the weekend like you said you might, you’ll know what I mean.

The other thing, at that time, was that I learned what molecules was, and electrons, and protons, and all those other physics particulars. That was back when I was still paying attention when I went to school. And the way it was kinda conveyed to me was that if you got down small enough, zoomed in far enough, then everything was just like those balls, and when I was lying in the pit, down with the bandaids and lost socks, I felt real spooked. Like that stuff was passing through me, stuff I couldn’t feel and couldn’t stop. So I quit playing in the ball pit pretty much right then. In fact I pretty much quit playing altogether. No more baby stuff. Listen, slide that spittoon over. I feel a spit coming on. Yeah, use your foot. She’s heavy.

So but honey, what was your question? Do I remember taking you to that McDonald’s?

I can’t really recall.

Don Television is an American writer. Reach out: