“Where’s My Wand: One Boy’s Magical Triumph Over Shag Carpeting”
A young boy hopes that he might have the ability to wiggle his nose and make a stressful family situation turn TV picture-perfect.
This story was originally covered by PRI's Here and Now. For more, listen to the audio above.
It was a tough childhood for Eric Poole. Growing up in 1970's St. Louis with the increasing awareness that he was gay, he was the target of bullying. His family life was far from perfect. He lived with an overly-controlling mother, a father who didn't push back, and a judgmental grandmother. He describes his mother's obsessive cleaning, "Her entire life when she was not at work was spent cleaning, I mean, she ironed everything that had a cotton fill, I mean, down to the tongues of tennis shoes." Poole's memoir, recently released in paperback, is the story of his childhood troubles, told with a strong awareness of life's humor.
The writer's one trusted childhood friend, a television show, gave him faith during his early struggles. Poole explains:
I worshipped the TV show Bewitched—and, to Mother’s irritation, could be found flattening the shag in the family room every Thursday night when it aired. The lovely wife, Samantha, her devoted husband, Darrin, and their spotless suburban home all mirrored my own family’s existence, but with a refreshing lack of screaming and crying.
So the young Poole draped himself in an old chenille bedspread, crept down to the basement, and went about casting spells.
At the beginning it really seemed to work. There were instances where, you know, my mother was kind of a holy terror and my dad was this really, and still is, this really easygoing guy and, you know, you can read easygoing sometimes as "needs to stand up to her." And so I managed to make him stand up to her in a fairly dramatic way, and I managed to befriend this super cool girl in my class who had no arms, and I was able to make my grandmother and my mother get along, or so I thought.
Poole's belief in magic evolved and later blended into a religious faith. He describes moments of feeling abandoned by both magic and God, but he also writes of a "burning bush moment" in which he believes he heard from God. The author has a strong relationship with his faith:
I look at magic now, honestly, as an adult, and I think of it as, like two pronged. You have to believe in yourself and your ability to make things happen, and then I also believe in a God or a universe -- whatever you want to think of that as -- working with you to make that happen.
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