12 July 2009

John Goodman's Head

Disclaimer: In no way does the author wish harm to John Goodman. This piece was written in response to a photograph from David Lynch's "A Dark Night of the Soul" exhibit. National Public Radio led me to the picture. Several musicians created a "uniquely collaborative album" -"Dark Night of the Soul." Lynch conjured the images in his photographs while listening to the album. I conjured John Goodman's head from the second of the pictures in the NPR piece.

Now the head in Lynch's photograph is not John Goodman's head, but it reminded me of John Goodman. That, the children, and Aunt Ruth in her apron, got me pondering the power of apple pie. A story beckoned.

And so, without further ado, I give you:

John Goodman’s Head

The children looked so small standing beside John Goodman’s head. Aunt Ruth put the head on the dinner table because she didn’t know what else to do with it. Just the day before, so the story goes, John Goodman called Aunt Ruth. He heard tales told about her apple pie.

Now Aunt Ruth’s apple pie is no ordinary apple pie. Nuh-uh! Aunt Ruth’s apple pie, when eaten under the right conditions makes wishes come true. About now you are probably wondering just what those conditions are. So I’m gonna tell you.

But before I do, you need to know what a blue moon is. Do you know what a blue moon is? Just in case you don't---a blue moon is the second full moon that graces the night sky in a single calendar month.

In our case, Aunt Ruth’s apple pie makes your wishes come true if you eat it under a blue moon in October.

Unfortunately for him, John Goodman called Aunt Ruth the night before this October’s blue moon. He told her that he wanted that apple pie. He told her that he wanted that apple pie more than he’d ever wanted anything in his entire life.

Now Aunt Ruth isn’t one to judge people. If someone wants her apple pie she makes it for them. People come to her sometimes by the dozens, sometimes none come at all. There's power in her pies. John Goodman was Aunt Ruth’s first celebrity. Maybe she shoulda smelt trouble. But he was her only request for apple pie this year, and Aunt Ruth loved baking on blue moons. She’d been doing it as far back as she could remember. Blue moons in October don't come that often--that’s why we say stuff like this only happens once in a blue moon. (Now ain’t that the truth!)

Anyway. the entire time Aunt Ruth made that pie, she wondered what John Goodman would wish for. She just couldn’t wrap her mind around it. Aunt Ruth manifest all the yearning she could and put it right in that pie. She wanted to supercharge John Goodman’s wish. If he wanted to fly, she wanted him to fly! (that wish had only been manifest once before, it ended badly for the wisher) If he “Wanted to be a Millionaire” she manifest doubling it. Whatever it was that John Goodman wished for, went into that pie. Aunt Ruth isn’t sure how it works, she only knows THAT it works. Oh Aunt Ruth was feeling smug all right. She knew she’d whipped up one of her most powerful blue moon apple pies ever. She could feel its strength as she worked..

John Goodman arrived at Aunt Ruth’s house as the blue moon rose. She seated him at the old Ma Bell spool table under the oak tree out back and handed him a bib. “Nothing like moonlight and apple pie, I always say.” Aunt Ruth said.

“Bony Aphrodite, that’s what I always say,” John Goodman said as he raised his fork. Aunt Ruth laughed. “Wait,” she said. “The wish. After I go inside the house, stand up and say your wish out loud, wiggle your hips side to side three times, and no it don’t matter what direction you start,(ya wouldn’t believe the number of times I get that question) Say your wish out loud, Swing them hips a yours three times, just like this. Clap once, then sit down and eat. Eat every last bite. No ala mode, no cheddar cheese, nada.”
“Cheddar cheese, EW.” John Goodman wrinkled his nose.
“I know, right?” Aunt Ruth said with a laugh. “Well as you say, Bony Aphrodite.” Aunt Ruth turned and walked back toward the house, thinking about John Goodman’s wish.
Before she closed the door she heard John Goodman say, “Bony Aphrodite, indeed.”

About twenty minutes passed, and Aunt Ruth heard nothing. Then a gawd awful wailing started up outside. Followed by a “Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit.”

Aunt Ruth hurried outside. John Goodman had grown a good four feet. She thought he was a big man before, but now he was friggin huge! His head was as tall as the trees.

“This is not what I meant.” John Goodman said. “Life is one BIG fucking joke.” He threw his hands up in the air, knocked a branch down, then grabbed his forearm. “Ouch, Fuck!” He rubbed his arm. “Fuck!”

Aunt Ruth approached John Goodman. “Just exactly what did you wish for, Mr. Goodman?”

“I wanted to be “big”, real big, not just some type cast, flash in the pan, second fiddle, small-time loser nobody. Shit. I’m big now. I’m big now.” He threw his hands in the air, turned and stomped off toward the barn.

There he was, John Goodman throwing a fit in Aunt Ruth’s backyard. Aunt Ruth stifled her laughter while he was going on and on, then she remembered something horrible….. “Oh shit! Stop! Oh Mr. Goodman, stop!”

It was too late. John Goodman stormed through the 12 foot barn doors. Just two days ago, Aunt Ruth and her husband’s cousin Joe stretched a piece of razor wire from one loft to the other across the barn. They video- taped themselves throwing all kinds of things at that razor wire, from watermelons to tin cans, thinking that they’d make it onto America’s Funniest Home videos. Thinking they’d hit the big time. Thinking they stood a chance.

They hit the big time all right, just like John Goodman’s head hit the floor.

The family stood at the table stunned.

“I didn’t know what else to do with it,” Aunt Ruth said. “It just didn’t feel right leaving John Goodman’s head out there in the barn.”

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