Jesus and I were pretty good friends. And after he disappeared from our neighborhood and all those TV reporters started showing up on our street, I was a pretty hot property. My mom would freak out and call them vultures when they tried to ask me questions. But I’d try and chill her out. “Be cool,” I’d say. And it wasn’t just that I liked being on TV, I truly liked talking about Jesus. I still do. And to this day, people are always asking me to tell them everything I know about him.
Jesus and I were in sixth grade when we first met. Back then, not everyone was allowed to hang out with me. A part of the reason was the way I dressed. I was the only girl in class who had a pair of high heels. And for my birthday, my mother bought me a ton of black bracelets with studs on them. Other people’s parents said I looked like a whore and they didn’t want their kids to get my whore cooties or something. But my attitude has always been just to be who you got to be. A part of this way of thinking comes from me. But a good part of it also comes from the stuff that Jesus taught me. But more on that later.
Jesus first showed up in the middle of the school year and sat in the back of the class. On that first day, when our chemistry teacher put on this movie about molecules, Jesus held up his hands in front of the projector and made a shadow puppet of a dove. That’s how I first noticed him. It was about a week later when everybody started to notice Jesus.
In ethics class we had to give a presentation on a social concern. And Jesus did his on world hunger. He went up to the front of the classroom without a loose-leaf paper or anything and started going on about how there wasn’t such a thing as world hunger, which as well as being a downright weird thing to say was also factually incorrect. We’d all seen pictures of Ethiopia on the news. And those poor kids were definitely hungry. Jesus said that if God fed the sparrows and butterflies, then he would also feed humans. The teacher pointed out that a lot of animals had gone extinct because the environment hadn’t provided for them. But Jesus shrugged and went back to his seat. So we just figured he was really stupid.
Since Jesus and I lived on the same block, we’d walk home from school together. One day on our way home he invited me over to his house to play with his Ouija board. As we walked to his house, Jesus told me that his father didn’t really love his mother, and didn’t believe that Jesus was his child. He told me that while swinging his lunch pail. He told me that the same way you’d tell someone that you liked apples. When someone tells you something like that—all casual—it sort of takes the pressure off. You don’t have to start rocking them in your arms and stuff. I appreciated Jesus for going easy on me like that, since we’ve all got our own troubles.
His family lived in a building that had a huge billboard advertising beer on the roof. And there were dogs walking around in the stairwell like they owned the place. We went into his room, closed off all the lights, and set up the Ouija board. As soon as we touched the marker, it started zipping around like a cockroach high on roach poison. I’d never seen such a thing before. Jesus and I took our fingers off the marker, but it kept sliding around just the same. It spelled out: “I am with you Jesus.”
Jesus and I screamed our heads off. We jumped off the couch and ran right into the apartment hallway. Under the stairwell, I let Jesus put his hand against my T-shirt to see how hard my heart was beating.
Jesus continued to get into trouble for ridiculous things at school, like photocopying his head in a copier in the library and giving himself a haircut in art class. He wore his ski mask one day—even though it was April already—and impersonated Gollum’s voice underneath it. I told my mom about it and she said he might be schizophrenic. But she changed her mind about him when she met him.
One really warm spring day, Jesus showed up at my apartment. I never invited people over. So I was a little put off having Jesus in our house. Once I had Georgie over and he said he found our apartment depressing.
“I like your place,” Jesus said, leaning against my bedroom window pane. “You have a great view from here, right out onto the record store. It probably helps you dream of music. We have the best neighborhood.”
“Wouldn’t you rather we lived in Westmount?” I asked. Westmount was the fanciest neighborhood in the city. And my mother was always going on about how if she won the Lucky Seven she’d set fire to the building and move us there in a smoke cloud of glory.
“Being rich is stupid,” he said. “It’s way better to have less. It makes you cooler. No one from a rich background can ever really be cool.” He said all of this just the way he dropped the news about his dad, very matter of fact. Maybe that was why I bought it. It seemed to just make sense, like he was saying something that I had already thought myself, but I’d never actually gotten around to putting into complete sentences. Jesus’s words made me feel like no matter how much there was something deep down wrong with you, there really wasn’t anything wrong with you at all.