Another Chicago Magazine

Little Myths

My dad, Zeus, is away fucking farm animals. Again. He thinks they are princesses. He says they are princesses. But that he made them into farm animals.

“Why not keep them as princesses if you are going to have sex with them?” I once asked.

My dad, Zeus, looked at me as if I was a fool. “Your mother,” he said. “Duh.” He put slid a stalk of wheat between his teeth and chewed. “No wonder you came out of my thigh.”

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It’s not that hairdressers won’t take Medusa on as a client. People will do anything these days for a little press. It’s that hair salons are full of mirrors and Medusa will be damned if she looks into one of those again.

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Hercules was strong; only in tenth grade and he’d already been offered six football scholarships. Mr. E didn’t care. Mr. E taught home economics and had sentenced Hercules to twelve afternoons of detention. Twelve! If Hercules didn’t complete all his detentions he wouldn’t pass Mr. E’s class, and if he didn’t pass Mr. E’s class he would never play football. Was Mr. E a monster? No, he was actually a huge softy. He liked baking cupcakes and indulging in long sensual baths while listening to flute music. But given Hercules’s penchant for disruptive classroom behavior, Mr. E had decided to teach him a lesson.

“Scrape all the gum off these desks,” Mr. E told Hercules the first afternoon of detention.

Hercules did.

“Wash the blackboard with a toothbrush,” said Mr. E the second afternoon.

Hercules did.

“Correct all the misspellings in all the graffiti all over the school.”

Hercules did.

“Capture the large rat living in the janitor’s closet.”

Hercules did.

“Unclog the entire school’s plumbing system, which has been subjected to an excessive quantity of toilet paper, as well as an unprecedented number of report cards.”

Hercules did.

“Teach the pigeons living in the ceiling to sniff out illicit marijuana.’”

Hercules did.

“Rewrite the missing books in the library.”

Hercules did.

“Eat an entire cafeteria lunch, including the ‘sloppy joe’ sandwich and the green bean casserole and the month-old carton of 1% milk.”

Hercules did.

“Acquire the rhinestone belt worn on the waist of the hottest PTA mom.”

Hercules did.

“Steal the ‘Principal of the Year’ Trophy from Principal H’s desk.”

Hercules did.

“Bring me the head of Geryon High School’s bull mascot.”

Hercules did. “Am I done yet?” he asked. He wanted to go to football practice.

“No,” said Mr. E, who was also growing weary of these punishments, but who remained no less committed to teaching Hercules a lesson. “I want you to go down into the school’s basement and bring me the immortal flesh-eating three-headed hound that resides there guarding the gates of the underworld.”

Hercules did. He passed Mr. E’s class. To celebrate, he held a three-day pool party.

The football coach cut him from the team for skipping practice.

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All day long Andromeda has been chained to a rock waiting for a sea monster to eat her. What if I taste bad? she thinks. Will the monster spit me back up? Get indigestion? How embarrassing! The whole kingdom is watching!

By the time Perseus shows up, Andromeda is nearly hysterical. “Quick!” she screams to him, “Fetch some barbecue sauce.”

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Dionysus joined my AA chapter. I know we’re supposed to keep membership confidential, but this instance felt different. “Hello my name is Dionysus,” said Dionysus during his first meeting. “I’m an alcoholic.” We all welcomed him in unison. He stank of wine. His teeth were stained purple. He seemed both befuddled and roguishly at ease. “I’ve been drinking for a few centuries now,” he added. “Time flies when you’re enjoying a constant stream of boozy orgies with your best buddies and a contingent of sexy wood nymphs and the occasional celebrity god, not to mention…”

He went on like this for a while. I don’t remember much else, except that all of us woke up in a field the next morning, our fingers sticky and our mouths stained purple, all of us with the sinking feeling that we were happier than we’d ever been.