It seems like everyone I know is named John. I have not one but two brothers named John – Well, one is Johnathan and one is Jonathan – Hence, John and Jon. It’s a good thing one of them goes by Jo. My father-in-law is a John and his son, my brother-in-law, carries the sire’s crest but they call them Little John and Big John.
My best friend is John. Only I call him Flapjack, because there are times when we’re stoned, he dances like he doesn’t have a bone in his body. He flips and flops and flaps, but I’d never call him Flip Flop…That’s disrespectful and talks about his character.
Flapjack tells me his grandmother is Arapaho.
And I say, “Don’t talk about your grandmother like that.”
He says, “My Grammie calls me Yoohan, like she’s German. But she’s not. Not even a little bit.”
Of course, Flapjack is part Arapaho but his DNA is one twisty helix. His mother is Chicano. His father is boot to blonde Irish. Flapjack tells me, in his family, the stereotypes are right. His mom is hot-blooded. His dad is always drunk. And his Grammie can make it rain.
Flapjack is docile. He’ll climb a tree without a sound and say, “I should’ve been a Sherpa or a private investigator.” He’ll listen to music, slap his knees and say, “I should’ve been a drummer.” He’ll doodle a dinosaur and say, “I should’ve been a painter. I think I still have a masterpiece in me.”
I say, “Flap, you’re only twenty-five. Why don’t you be one of those things? But also, get a day job because you owe me rent.”
Flapjack does get a day job but it’s at night. He operates a spotlight in a Russian Circus. He zips up the rigging to the pinnacle of the tent. He spins the lights in time with the music. He harnesses five lights and runs them all at once. His ballyhoo figure-eight is a masterpiece.
He meets a girl. Her name is Russian and hard to pronounce. She’s a juggler. She juggles knives and bowling balls. She calls Flapjack John. They laugh at first. He laughs in English. She laughs in Russian.
Flapjack is docile by nature. She makes him volatile. They fuss and fight. They love and lose pieces of themselves. She says, “I’m pregnant.”
Flapjack says, “I’m happy.”
But he doesn’t flip and flop and flap anymore. He’s slow climbing the rigging of the tent. He says to me, “I’m scared.”
I say, “I know but you’re only twenty-seven.”
The night the baby is born, I’m at the hospital. Like a cheesy TV show, we stand in front of the nursery window. Flapjack points to his baby, just a couple of hours old, and says, “That’s him.”
I stare until I can’t stare anymore. I try to remember all the ingredients of the baby. But I can’t see any rain-dancing Arapaho or hot-blooded Chicano or drunken Irish or juggling Russian.
The baby is pale and veiny with a head full of blonde hair. His scrunched face looks like a constipated German.
Flapjack glances over at me and says, “I think I’ll name him John.”
©2012 This work is the property of the author.