Going to my uncle’s house is fun. He’s twenty-seven, my mother’s younger brother. He wears sweatshirts and is tall and thin like his dad, my Gramps. My uncle has Nagel and Picasso prints on his walls and Eurythmics playing on his stereo. He also has a dart board. And because I am six, this makes his house one of the more interesting ones I get to visit. I may be in the first grade, but I know that Nagel is sexy.
I love throwing the darts as hard as I can. They almost never land correctly, rarely sticking to the dartboard or even the cork board around the dart board. Instead they usually stick from the carpet beneath the dart board, like lawn darts. After I finish throwing, I snatch the red darts from the carpet and stab them into the bullseye. I always leave the darts in the bullseye when I’m done, as though I’m a six-year-old sharpshooter. I know how the West was won.
When my uncle has his friends over, I get to perform and impress his friends. Performing is my favorite. Most adults don’t care for performance, they just care that kids have good grades and look pretty. But, some adults LOVE performance. They want us to sing or dance or put on a play, mostly so they can laugh. But that’s why I love to perform–to make people laugh. Win-Win.
Performances at my uncle’s house are different, though. They are more like game shows than rehearsed shows. They always start with me casually walking into the room to see if there are snacks.
“Kelly, what did you do in school today?” my Uncle asks, in front of his friends who I’d love to impress.
“I worked on word processing on an IBM.” The men react. I smile a slow, knowing smile. I’m a nerd with nerd glasses and big teeth and men love nerdy kids.
“You have computers at your school?” the short, blonde one asks.
“We have a computer lab at my school.”
“What’s your favorite thing about Star Wars?” asks the one with wire glasses.
I pause and suck my cheek, spinning the rolodex in my brain. “The lightsaber. Crazy hot. Lava sticks, basically. Lasers.”
My uncle says, “Kelly, you know what a laser is!? You’re a genius.”
My uncle never failed to communicate that my most important quality was my intelligence, which was an incredible gift for a six-year-old girl. He introduced me to the Filet-O-Fish. He was my godfather. Nagels will always remind me of him. So many things will happen that will remind me of him. He died on Thursday. I am sad he is gone. I’d like to make him laugh again.