I Grow Up, by
When I grow up, I want to be a warlock. It runs in our family
Not my dad. He's a pharmaceuticals
salesman. Mom calls him a drug
dealer, but he sells things like
Tylenol Plus and constipation aids to doctors and medical centers.
Granddad says magic skips a Dee every few generations.
But me-I've got the warlock genes. Granddad says I've got the
I.mickey," too. That sounds too
much like Disney for me. I think he means I've got the spunk, the spark,
the guts for it.
The dictionary says a warlock is a male witch or a man practicing the black
arts. But Granddad has given me a list of names to memorize and I
like those much better. The list is almost like a poem.
He says there are many other names, some of them not to be said in front
of women or the faint-hearted. I think he means they are swears,
but I am not sure.
When I get older I will wear a long black robe with a neat pointy hood.
I'll be allowed to tie the robe with a special belt, just like they do
in karate. Only the warlock belt is more like a rope with special
medals on it, for the spells and things. Granddad!s got thirteen
different ones, including a cat in silver, a circle with an X in it in
gold, and something that looks like three legs running, which is sort of
weird but also sort of neat. The medals are awarded as you get better
at your spells, a little like Boy Scout badges, I guess, only more important
since it's your life's work.
There's an oath, too, only I am not allowed to write it down. For
one, it would scorch the very paper, and for another, people who are not
warlocks aren't supposed to hear it. But it's all about honesty and
loyalty to the community and doing good and following the healer's art.
I will be my granddad's apprentice for seven years and then a journeyman
for seven more before becoming a high mage or a master warlock. That
sounds like a long time, I know, but Granddad says if I start now, when
I am seventeen I will be a journeyman, and a master at twenty-four. T hat's
about when someone learning to be a doctor would just first be getting
his or her hands on a patient. And I can still go to college at the
same time. Or be a rock star, which is the otber thing I
want to be.
Now the bad things. I will have a lot to memorize, like the words
of spells and the right way to summon a demon or angel. You have
to get it right, or - oh, boy! I had a great-uncle who got the words
reversed on one summons, my granddad said, and called a rain demon when
he really wanted to summon a drain demon to fix the kitchen sink.
You've heard of the Johnstown Flood? Well, that was my greatuncle
And then there are the plants. Do you know how many plants there
are? Even here in Westchester County? Not only do I have to
know the names - common, technical (that means Latin!), and magical, I
also have to know when they grow, where they grow, and all about the uses
of root, leaf, bud, flower, stamen, and pistil. (I used to think Granddad
meant a pistol, like a gun, and wondered which flowers had those.) In fact,
I will probably have to major in botany in college just to get it all right.
Dad insists that his pharmaceuticals can do everything that plants do and
more. He and Granddad get into arguments about it every time Granddad
comes to dinner. Mom calls it our own private drug war.
Also, I have to know the difference between the Good Arts and the Bad Arts
(not black arts, as people who don't know any better call them). The problem
is, the Bad Arts are really more fun to do, like turning people into newts
and toilet-papering the top of a church tower. I have to know the
difference, and know how to do them all. nd then NOT do the Bad Arts.
Granddad explained that in order to know what to avoid, I have to learn
the bad stuff as thoroughly as the good. Mom doesn't let me practice
any of it at home. She says it all smells funny, and maybe it does.
When you are working with spells, though, you don't smell it yourself.
So every day after school, and after baseball practice, I spend an
hour at Granddad's
house practicing my spelling. And I have a lesson
morning and a test on things once a month, usually on
because numbers are real important, too.
That's all I can think to write about What I Want to Be When I
I hope this is what you wanted. And I hope you believe me
think I am making this up, like Mrs. Cassiday did last year
when she gave
us the same assignment. Being a newt, even for just a
is really very uncomfortable. If you ask her directly, she