Tonton Jim

Tonton Jim was born in a faraway little seaport on the Pacific Coast, closer to the equator than the North Pole. I can say with 99% certainty that it’s a faraway little seaport, because it’s 99% certain that no matter where you, the reader, happen to live on this planet, you don’t live near there. The certainty just works out that way; it has more to do with math than geography.

His sisters report – he has no memory of this – that he delighted in breaking eggs he found in the jungle. They might’ve been iguana eggs or perhaps a neighbor had a chicken farm in the jungle.

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Tonton’s older brother, Marvin. Casitas Street, Santa Barbara.

Eventually his family moved to California, and brought him along – much to his sisters’ dismay. How they traveled such a distance is unrecorded, but Tonton Jim swears he has a black-and-white photo of his sisters and him sitting in an ox cart. He also claims to have pictures of the equator and of the North Pole. Be that as it may (and it probably isn’t), the little fellow and his family settled down in a typical southern California town named after a lady saint much adored by cannoneers. As he grew in height and intellect, he fell in love with cars, cartoons, comic books, and the puns Walt Kelly told in Pogo. Despite this resume of slightly ridiculous likes and loves, he vowed to become a serious man or perhaps a seriously cool man. But he failed – a failure he recognized after only a few decades and the onset of old age.

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Tonton’s sisters with Mrs. Benny: Cathy in arms, Lucy in hat, Helen showing off skirt.

Even though he knows he came up short in his quest to obtain gravitas, most people who first meet him still judge him to be a man of great seriousness, most likely because he seldom smiles. But behind that serious expression, people who know him well, well know that he is a very whimsical fellow indeed. Behind that veneer of gravitas is a mind not working like a warm-blooded calculating machine, but more like a happy little amusement park.

And in that amusement park of the mind he recalls and reflects upon some of the children’s books he read, especially the books featuring talking animals: Peter RabbitWinnie the Pooh, and The Wind in the Willows. All of which had created very friendly and delightful worlds – though The Wind and the Willows had a dark side to it. Better, thought Tonton Jim, to have an animal world without prisons or the need for them; an animal world without meat eating animals; just a friendly, whimsical place where good friends can have adventures.

So it was related to me,

signed: The Unpaid Scribner for T.J.

 

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