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Thunder Pie | Scroll Of Jawns: Episode 2

So I’ve been reading a lot lately about the Black Death…

jawn /jôn/ noun – (chiefly in the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area) used to refer to a thing, place, person, or event that one need not or cannot give a specific name to. Jawn is a neutral, all-purpose noun used to reference any person, place, situation, or object. In casual conversation, it takes the place of the word ‘thing’. Example: “These jawns are very inexpensive.”

jawn one.

A couple days ago, Blake, my oldest kid who was born 15 years ago with the name Violet, fell asleep on the bed between me and Arle. This never happens. Blake is pretty private and digs their space, which isn’t easy to do in a house with seven people and two dogs and at least one ghost all jammed up in it. But we’d gone to a Night Pop-Up Market where Arle was set up selling her art and the evening had been sweltering and I could see Blake’s eyes drooping at times while they sat there in the camping chair, leaned up against Arle’s van, eating cheesesteak egg rolls as the gloaming rolled in and the lightning bugs began to show off. By the time we made it home, I’d made a deal with my firstborn to grab us some M&M’s (their current favorite is peanut butter/ mine is just plain) at the gas station and lay on my bed in the AC with them to watch some vintage M&M’s TV commercials on YouTube. Which must have led to them drifting off at some point. Under the covers: like they ain’t getting up again til morning. Arle smiled at them and me so I knew we were on the same wavelength: let the kid sleep. For me, this was magic, you see, because Blake, who is on the autistic spectrum, doesn’t really roll like that. For them to have been able to adjust their routine, even unconsciously, to a plane of existence where they lay sleeping beside their dad was just remarkable. I felt certain they would awake at any moment and hustle off to their room, but it never happened. I sipped some wine and watched their sleepy face and I saw myself in them/ my features/ my past/ my thrills and my pain/ and it was more immense than any balancing act I think I’ve ever managed. I slept so solid that night, man. I slept like I was a baby. Like I was happy and alright and so fucking free from all that worrying that brings you down.

jawn two.

So I’ve been reading a lot lately about the Black Death. It’s fascinating to me on a lot of levels, but a surprise discovery has been just how much the social structure of things was shaken and challenged in the wake of things back then, especially (according to John Hatcher’s excellent book, The Black Death: A Personal History), in England. Let’s talk sociology in layman’s terms though, okay? The Black Death swept across Europe and killed a lot of people between 1345-1350 AD. Up until then, most working-class folks were known more or less as peasants and were strictly seen by both upper crust money people and clergy alike as being born to serve. Serve God’s Earthly plan, they’d tell you, by working hard on the land you have been leased (for life) by a very rich landowner. And don’t forget that you owe them two of your best cows and a bushel of wheat from your meager crops just because they said so! Then came the devastation of the unstoppable pandemic and more than half of the working class people were suddenly gone. Which meant that their required service at harvest time (bringing in their landlord’s crops for low, low pay) went unfulfilled. Landlords were freaking out and guess what? The peasantry suddenly found themselves in the unlikely situation of being able to say, literally, Uhhmmm, no, we’d rather not. Unless you pay us more! And throw in a loaf of bread and a hunk of cheese and a jug of ale to sweeten the deal! As you might expect, all the rich people straight up to the King himself lost their shit. But vital seeds had been planted by the very hand of Death herself.

jawn three.

Somehow, I lost my Instagram account of over 10 years. It had a fair amount of followers for an unknown no one (maybe 2,000), but more importantly, of course, it was a treasured storehouse of so many memories and moments from my own life. I can’t explain to you what happened other than this. One Friday, when I was picking up my stepkid, Rosinante, from school, I casually opened my Instagram app on my phone like I’d done a billion times before just sitting there waiting in the parking lot. But instead of the same old deal, this time I saw a flash of a message from Instagram saying that my account had violated their content agreement or something. I couldn’t digest it more because within a few seconds it was gone and there was only a strange cyber loop left for me to live inside. Where all my photos and words had once been, I now saw something that told me my account had been “disabled”. I thought surely I would be able to fix this blatant mistake. I’d never posted anything even remotely offensive and I’d never been banned or warned or anything before. All I needed to do was delve into the backstage area of my account, I figured, and connect with the Department of We Fucked Up at Meta and everything would be resolved. Maybe they would even give me a free Amazon gift card for my troubles. But no. There is no place to unravel the mess. The loss, it seems, is as certain as the coughing up blood that once meant that your body was infested with Black Death and you were done for. The account, I am starting to comprehend, is more or less gone. It may in fact exist somewhere in the back channels of the internet solar system, mind you, but the likelihood of me ever crossing paths with it again and unlocking it from the deep dark chains that bind it is astronomically wee. So that’s that then, I guess. I haven’t spent much time fretting over it because I’m already a fella who is struggling with where to aim his energy at any given time. So I can’t even give a damn in the end. If someone sabotaged my account on purpose, I hope they know that I am asking the universe to riddle them with Black Death. And I think it will happen. I really do. If it was just Instagram being dumb, then what can I do? Nothing. I’m switched to another account. It’s like I died and came back as someone else. It’s quite strange. I kind of dig it.

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Serge Bielanko lives in small-town Pennsylvania with an amazing wife who’s out of his league and a passel of exceptional kids who still love him even when he’s a lot. Every week, he shares his thoughts on life, relationships, parenting, baseball, music, mental health, the Civil War and whatever else is rattling around his noggin.