Jude Hardin

Author, Drummer, Turtle Whisperer

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Location: United States

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Friday

When I was seven, I wanted a Hot Wheels racetrack, and had been begging my stepfather for months to buy me one. Maybe for Christmas, he said, between gulps of whiskey. I ripped a picture of that racetrack from the Sears catalog and taped it to the refrigerator door. No mistake about which one I wanted. In the picture, the cars were neck and neck at the finish line, with a blurry trail of color behind them. That’s how fast those damn Hot Wheels went on that damn track. Engines roaring, crowd cheering, rubber burning. I thought about that racetrack every night before going to sleep. I thought about it for months.

On Christmas morning, there was a big package under the tree with my name on it. This was it! I was going to be the envy of every boy in the second grade. The anticipation was overwhelming. I almost peed my pants as I tore the shiny red paper and revealed...

A plain white box. I had seen the racetrack I wanted in the store, and it did not come in a plain white box. It came in a box with a picture of cars neck and neck at the finish line. Blurry trail of color...crowd cheering...rubber burning...

There must have been some mistake. Someone had put my name on the wrong present.

“Go ahead and open it,” my stepfather said. He always needed a shave and stunk of booze, even on Christmas. Especially on Christmas, truth be known.

I opened the package. It was a set of gray pajamas, pocked with pictures of blue Indy cars. Something a little kid would wear to bed, not a big second grader. I started bawling. I couldn’t help myself. I knew he would make me wear those PJs until they were threadbare and busting at the seams, and I knew I would never ever get that Hot Wheels racetrack as long as I lived.

When he saw my grief, he called me a spoiled brat and stomped away to fix himself another highball. I never forgave him, and things were never the same between us. We hated each other until he blew his brains out when I was fifteen. Now I always tell people with kids to buy them what they really want, even if you have to go in hock to do it.

I pulled a Parrish here. This is an excerpt from my work in progress. Still, as you go out shopping tomorrow, try to remember that your gifts just might affect the recipients for the rest of their lives. Especially the little ones.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Best Anti-Depressant Ever

I received this email yesterday, out of the blue, from someone I don't know:

Dear Jude,

It's been a long time, years probably, since I read a poem -- the best poem I've ever read -- a truly inspired piece, and all I can recall is that I thought it was written by someone named Jude, and it was the only thing on a website when his name was clicked on from Miss Snark's blog. Was it yours? If so, would you show me where to find it so I may read it again, and again?

She was talking about this, the very first entry on my blog, a poem I wrote the day after my dear aunt passed away.

This is the kind of thing writers live for. Thank you, Email Sender, for making my day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Need a Drink

How depressing is this?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes

I heard her for the first time on NPR last week. She's really something special, I think.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Makes a Book a Work of Art?

What makes one author an artist and another a hack? Are there objective criteria we can apply to literature, or is art entirely subjective? If it is entirely subjective, is one opinion more valid than another?

Ready, set, discuss!