My name is Martin Schmidt. At least it is now. I live in a nice house in Minneapolis at 73 Marpel St, at the end of a cul-de-sac which the government now says is too expensive to make more of. Too bad, I got mine. Maybe I’ll think differently next year, but for now, that’s how I feel. I have a degree in chemical engineering and I deserve my cul-de-sac.
I’m a good guy. I have two kids and a lovely wife, Carol, three years my junior. I pay taxes. I go to work. My kids eat three squares a day and have their own i-Pods. My thirteen year old son, Jason, is a skateboarder with purple hair who thinks he’s a punk. He doesn’t know a punk from a hole in the ground, but he thinks he does. Purple hair doesn’t make you a punk. A gun makes you a punk. Killing people makes you a punk, or at least telling stories of how you could does. My son’s not a punk, but I let him think he is, and that’s enough for both of us. My daughter, Mary-Beth, is a Christian and a virgin — which is a good thing to be at age twelve, I guess. Until my wife, I never met anybody that was still a virgin at age twelve. Then again, I never knew anybody who was a “Christian” like they mean it here until my wife, either. But here’s my daughter and her mother — twelve and a virgin. So it is and so it was.
But that’s how it is here, now. In the other dimension, the one I grew up in, it’s Massachusetts – a town called Wareham. People there have names like Lopez and like Jay-Z playing really loud on their car stereos. They have jobs, too – some of ‘em have jobs in the factory but most don’t anymore. My brother does. My cousins – Marco and Jimmy – have jobs, too, but theirs pay more. Marco’s a collector and Jimmy’s a dealer. Jimmy deals anything – used cars, drugs, high-interest loans – whatever makes him the most money. Marco collects the same thing, no matter what: moolah, cash, green, scratch. It’s all the same to him. If you don’t have that, he’ll take your lawn mower or your kid sister or various body parts, but then he gets the moolah with no problem. My kids don’t know Jimmy or Marco, but I do. If one of us has to, I’d rather it be me.
Jimmy and Marco have kids the same age as mine, thirteen and twelve, respectively, but their names are Jimmy and Marco, Jr. They’ll probably go into the family businesses if they know their old men. They probably have clothes that look like my kids’ and see the same movies my kids do. The difference is that my kids see them at the movies and their kids see ‘em sold door-to-door the day before they come out. The door-to-door ones are darker and sound like they’re underwater, but it’s the same movie. Their sneakers cost a lot of money and shine. My kids’ sneakers cost a lot of money and look roughed up when you buy them — tattered Scottish plaid isn’t all that scary to me, but Calvin Klein says its punk, so I guess it is. It goes with the purple hair.
In that other dimension, my name is “Zinny” Zannetti or, as the Sisters used to say, “Mah-tin”.