THE FRAT KING AND THE OLD WITCH
So . . . I lied to you. I wasn’t ready to write again–still not. Losing that sweet baby wasn’t as easy as I wish it had been and I think a few of my proverbial screws, and possible my heart axle, got knocked a bit sideways. I’m emotional, effusive and shouldn’t be allowed on Facebook. Good time to chew the fat and write a blog, yes? Well, mayhap not. But, no one ever called me chicken, so . . .
Let’s talk about frat boys. (Logical leap, right?)
Once upon a time, and far, far away, a Republican Baptist Frat King walked into a Witch’s class. Now, the Frat King was only eighteen: wild, rambunctious, full of spit and bravado and chaw. The Old Witch was a Democrat, wore a pentagram and flew the rainbow flag for gay rights. But there they were. Five years ago. For four months, they danced around composition and compound sentences until one afternoon when the Frat King almost died on a motorcycle. And the Witch was sad. She had seen something in the young king’s eyes that had reminded her of someone and worried that no one else would see it. Especially, himself. So, she gave him an extension, a stern talking to, and as Old Witch’s have been known to do, a bit of a magical push.
The day that grades were turned in, the Frat King sent the Old Witch a message. He only wanted to know one thing: was she proud of him?
The Old Witch wasn’t quite certain.
The next year, he took the next level of her course. And the next. And the next. Now, Frat King had no intention of liking the Old Witch. After all, she was everything he had been taught was wrong, liberal, leftist and most of all: dangerous. The Old Witch had no intention of liking the Frat King. He was everything she had been taught was wrong, conservative, fiscal, bigoted, religious and most of all: dangerous. Yet, life has its own way with bull-headed anti-heroes. The years passed–the boy grew older. He fell in love once and brought the girl to the Old Witch for approval. Then, the Old Witch got married–and he sat in the back row, alone in a button-down and a proper jacket, at a Pagan wedding. Her anniversary came along and he had his “brothers” decorate her home in white icicle lights (during the class hour so as he could be certain that she would be absentee of the shenanigans, the little bastard). He stopped by her house in his senior year–the year he was President of the Frat–to double check his ethics, sharpen his rhetoric and variously be loved up before going to battle with the herd of good-ol-boys over the honor of a young woman. Indeed, the Old Witch was proud. He stopped over on his way to his 21st birthday eve, posse in tow, to hug the Old Witch’s neck (whom he now called Momma Witch) and to thank her for helping him grow up.
And the Old Witch was sad, for she knew what wise women know: that he would grow up, forget her, move away, lose his soul and buy stock. And vote badly. (He was worried that she would grow old, not move away and vote badly. They argued often.)
And time marched on.
The year before the Frat King went to commencement and got properly commenced, he happened upon evidence that his mentor was, to his horror, a Pagan Witch. He struggled, agonized even, over that revelation as the Old Witch–who had told herself that one day this could happen–got good and properly toasted on red wine. And she was sad, for she feared that all that they had shared would one fine day be eclipsed by politics. But the Frat King showed up on her porch, confused but stoutly determined, and the two of them decided that the exception had been made long before that difficult afternoon and that the friendship would survive religion.
And the Old Witch was happy. But she asked him one thing on his way to his truck: Are you still proud of me?
And he wasn’t sure . . . and time marched on . . .
Then one day, it happened. The Frat King graduated, with honors, but on his way out he stopped at the Old Witch’s house. Whiskey was consumed, “remember whens” were revered and when everyone had gone to bed there was only the mismatched pair on a porch. And the Frat King only wanted to know one thing. Are you proud of me?
And she was, but she was afraid of the world and its taxes and heartbreaks and its tendency to police the truth out of a saint. Therefore, she was silent. And she was sad.
The Old Witch believed, deep in her heart, that she would never see the Frat King again. She only hoped that he had heard her desperate pleas to see people of color as people, to hear the plight of gay men as a plight, not an affront, to open his mind and heart to the possibility that there are many paths up a mountain and that the thump of the Sacred could not be bought or sold and to not waver when he heard the sound that “right” makes against the rocks of civilization and society. She hoped. She wrote the letter that garnered him entry into law school. And she let him go.
And time marched on.
This morning, the Frat King drove all the way to Alabama, down an old county road, and knocked on the door of the Old Witch. They spoke of law school, the Constitution, the Second Amendment. They studied over the fracture between Christians and Pagans and pretended that it was a chat of Republican and Democrat theology. They wondered at the breakdown of marriages, childhoods, and the unbearable beauty of a country solitude. They had a cup of coffee, gandered at the carrot garden, and the Frat King–who has somehow become just a (wonderful) man–said to the Old Witch:
I miss you. The world today makes me sad. No one does the right thing anymore. The ethical thing. I am questioning everything.
And the Old Witch hugged The Man, and whispered in his ear: the answer is yes. I am so, so very proud of you.
Then, time stood still.