Monday, June 29, 2015

Dungeon Dragon Owner’s Manual by Jennifer Porter


So, your gourmet apricot jam is just not lasting as long as it used to and you know you left two bottles of IPA in the fridge but now they’re gone. You hear ghostly footprints through the house, especially between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. There are clothes in the dryer, and they’re not yours. An intrepid explorer, you make your way into the household crypt and, lo and behold, curled into a corner with smoke exuding from his nostrils that smells strikingly of Gummi worms, is your very own dungeon dragon.

Don’t panic! The first step in dungeon dragon removal is to own up to his presence in your life. As a New Age parent this can be the most difficult step. This act of denial can drag on until your dragon appears one day to rummage through your cupboard for jalapeño-flavored nacho chips and you notice he is balding and growing a paunch.

First, identify which sort of dragon you possess.

One sort can’t decide what he wants to be when he grows up despite having been grown-up for a number of years. He refuses to declare a major. This is the dragon New Age parents have the most difficulty extricating from the basement. They feel sorry for him because he works hard at his minimum wage job and the economy does suck. He’s helpful around the house, washes his own clothes and often yours too, pays his bills (except lair rent) and is generally invisible.

The other sort earned a degree in useless but culturally-important information. This Bachelor of Forget Adulthood graduate is finely versed in the art of poetry or ceramics or maybe even theater. He entrances the ladies with his flighty displays of wing-power, enchanting even his parents, thrilled with their progeny until they all hop into the same car at the end of the evening’s performance and drive to the same house as they have been, for the last twenty-nine years.

I know what you’re asking yourself. Why didn’t you have a come to Jesus talk with your dragon when he was bright-eyed and chomping at the bit, fresh out of high school, ready to take on the world with his flame-throwing prowess? Instead of a dungeon dragon, he could’ve been an accountant, a computer software programmer, even a teacher; why, he could’ve been an engineer, as tight-cheeked as engineers are. Instead of hiding in his lair all the live-long day, he could have had a decent job.

Some nearly useless pieces of advice in the eternal war against dragonitis:

No allowance! Do not give your dragon money. They cannot hide in their lairs forever and without a car, cannot go clubbing with other dungeon dragons. Clubbing is a powerful force; use it to your advantage. Simply explain that if he wants to hang with Betsey, he’s going to have to take that minimum-wage job at McDonald’s.

After several months of working a mindless, greasy, low-wage job, your dungeon dragon will wake up and yearn to be a highly-qualified professional. You must, however, strike when this iron gets hot. Once the dragon gets acclimated to the blue-collar life, he has everything he needs to be content in his lair without the full load of responsibilities that come with owning his own castle. Lurking in his dungeon is far easier than ruling the kingdom.

No feeding! Do not feed your dragon. Home-cooked meals are to these dragons what rotting carcasses in the desert sun are to vultures. Ramen noodles, cardboard-flavored pizza, and powdery-orange mac and cheese can wear the soul so thin, your dragon may just decide to become an electrical engineer after all.

Frequently buy expensive electronic devices that your dragon cannot afford (make sure you point this out) and make him teach you how to work them. Spend the entire teaching-session with a confused expression on your face and mess up the device a number of times, which he will have to fix and show you again. Mumble about having to buy more Depends and how much money he will save you when his father needs in-home care due to a chronic loosening of the bowels.

Finally, and most importantly, stop telling your dungeon dragon how much you love him. You don’t have to be his cheerleader, his soft place to land, his back-up plan. So what if your own cruel and heartless parents threw you to the Orcs when you were eighteen. So, you had to pay for your own college, live in a seven-hundred square foot mobile tornado trap, and work full-time in a hydraulic hose factory, shoving hoses in a crimping machine all day. Hey, at least you can equip your castle with the latest and greatest electronic devices.

Remember, the last thing you want in your basement is a dungeon dragon.

Jennifer Porter lives in metropolitan-Detroit. Her fiction has appeared in journals such as Ray’s Road Review, The Dos Passos Review, Jet Fuel Review, Sling Magazine and Apeiron Review. A memoir essay recently appeared in Revolution John. She earned her MFA at the Bennington Writing Seminars. 

Street art by London Kaye.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.

Montreal-based TOPS released their sophomore album in April 2015. "Sleeptalker" is perfect amounts sleepy and spooky. 

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