One: The Spider Truck
There is an old truck parked in the driveway at Jimmy’s. It belongs to Max, the guy on the block who involves himself in everybody’s business. The truck has a lumber rack, and on that rack rest two massive wooden beams that Jimmy says Max is going to use for some project sometime. A black cat that Jimmy swears does not belong to the neighbor often sleeps on those beams, almost completely camouflaged as it curls up against the dark lumber. Inside the cab of the truck it is filled with spider webs.
We learned this because one day Seva wanted to look inside. I told them it was probably filled with spider webs, as a good portion of the outside was coated with them as well. Still, they wanted to see, so I opened the door. They hung back, trepid at first, but eventually approached enough so they could see inside. Nets upon nets of webs of different densities and taughtnesses interlaced and overlapped each other.
“Watch this!” I said. Leaning forward I blew into the cab of the truck. We watched as a ripple worked its way through the three-dimensional stuff of old-growth spider homes. We stood in silence.
“You wanna get in?” I asked, half turning. Their eyes grew wide.
“C’mon! It’ll be fun!” I moved to pick them up, feigning that I would throw them into the spider truck. They squealed and ran, I pursued.
“I know my baby. You know I would never do something like that to you.” I closed the door to the truck.
“Can we see in again?” they asked.
“Yes, but you’ll have to get in.”
They gave me the look. I opened the door.
“You know you can sleep in here tonight if you want.”
“What?! Why would I want to sleep in there!?”
“Would you spend the night in there for a million dollars?”
They thought about it. “No.”
“Dude I would. I’d do it for a thousand dollars.” I closed the door again. “You know what happens if you spend the night in the spider truck?”
“Well, if you make it all the way to dawn— until the sun is up— when you wake up you’ll have grown two extra arms and two extra legs.”
“You’ll have eight appendages altogether, like a spider.”
“Yeah,” I say emphatically, “you’ll be half-human, half-spider.”
“You’ll be a Spuman.”
They thought about this for awhile, and eventually agreed. If we both did it, they decided, we’d be the king and queen of The Spumans, and we’d have to have special pants and shirts made to accomodate our extra arms and legs, but we’d be able to climb things really well. Also we’d have eight eyes, like a spider, but they’d be human eyes, just like ours now. The big question, though, was whether or not we’d be able to spin webs out of our butts.
Two: Sprinkle’s Bus Stop
On Fridays I pick up Seva from their school and we head straight to Jimmy’s. Since the closest bus stop requires a transfer, we take the next-best option, which takes us to the Rockridge BART Station, and we walk from there, stopping at the “Big Bodega” on the way for treats. They enjoy this walk, and lately it has afforded us the opportunity to check out the neighborhood’s Halloween decorations.
On this particular Friday we walked up to the Chevron so I could get cigarettes and they could get an extra treat. There was a food truck there between the gas station and the bus stop, where we had to sit for sometime before our bus finally showed. It wasn’t until we were all the way up on College that they realized that Sprinkles, their stuffed kitty, wasn’t with us anymore. Panic immediately set in, so I pulled the cord and we hopped off the bus. I called an Uber to take us straight back to the Chevron gas station.
Seva was particularly sad— understandably so— so we talked about it. I told them that there was a good chance that Sprinkles was still at the bus stop, but that there was also a good chance that she wasn’t. It hadn’t been long since we’d left, but there’s always the chance. Then we wrote a story together based on a question:
“What if,” I asked, “while we’re in the Uber, on our way back to the bus stop, we realize that we left your lunch box on the bus?”
And then when we got out of the Uber and ran over to the bus stop we realized, as the Uber was pulling away, that we left their backpack in the Uber?
We’d be sad, especially once we realized that Sprinkles wasn’t at the bus stop anymore (which turned out to be the case), and we’d hold each other as we re-waited for the next bus to go ahead and take us home.
But then, as the next bus approached, we realized that something different was driving it: looking closer, we realized that it was Sprinkles, attached somehow to the steering wheel, flying left and right in a semi-circle as the bus navigated rush hour traffic. We laughed at that. When the bus would pull up and the door would open, Sprinkles the bus driver would turn to us and say “Get in!” And she’d take us all the way to Jimmy’s.
Now that bus is Sprinkle’s bus and we’re always excited that maybe she’ll pick us up again when we catch it next time.
Three: The Magic Poop Baby
When Seva was potty training and moving to solid foods they suffered from some pretty severe constipation. Their poor little tummy would get hard as a rock and they’d suffer pretty badly every three days or so when the time came for their poop to move on. One week it became particularly troubling, so we bought a large container of prune juice and put them in a warm bath and rubbed their tummy while they drank, dutifully, their gross juice. Eventually and finally they pooped, right there in the bath, which I let them do, a poop that I can only describe as NFL regulation football size.
This was a story that Seva loved to hear, over and over again, as they got older. After repeatedly complying to their request one day, I decided to change it up a bit, to heighten the stakes, which I took to be an investment on their part in something like their own origin story.
You know, I told them, you’re not the original Seva, right? I could tell it didn’t compute— but I also knew that it was this sort of sublime impossibility that Seva looooved. I went on to explain: No, it’s true: you’re the magic poop baby.
That night when the original Seva finally passed their gargantuan poo, it was so big that I realized that it was actually a baby. A poop baby. I took care of the poop baby, and I loved it so much, and it was so nice, that we decided to keep it, and sell the old Seva. Eventually we painted it a color approximately halfway between their mother and I, and put some hair and painted eyes and lips and whatnot and named it Seva, and they became our child.
This was why, one day as we were walking to the Little Bodega and they decided that my new name was PeePaw, and demanded a new name for themself, I dubbed them M.P.B. Which they both loved and hated in the same way that they loved and hated the story: it was horrible that we might give away the “original” Seva (which somehow had to be at least part of them), but at the same time had consciously and specifically chosen this Seva, which was undoubtedly still very much them— even if they were comprised of poop— and we’d done so because we liked her so much.
Eventually one night I told them the full tale, that they also weren’t actually either the original Seva or The Magic Poop Baby, as The Magic Poop Baby turned out to be an exceptionally evil villain; that no, the truth was that Seva was, in fact, The Magic Poop Baby Slayer, who had one day showed up to save their mother and I from The Magic Poop Baby in the nick of time, and that we were so incredibly grateful to them for saving us.