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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Jonathan Messinger


I am a young boy mourning the loss of my Digimon Wash Mitt. It died on me a week ago today and I've worn black ever since. The story of how my Digimon Wash Mitt passed away is a tearjerker, like the first part of Bambi with no second part.



My Digimon Wash Mitt and I would shower together, but I never put him to work because he was always too busy talking to me. I'd hang him from the suction cup hook my mom uses in the shower -- for her loufa -- and he'd look at me with those hideous green eyes and tell me how to live my life. He was the best friend a young boy could have.

There was one time when I got out of the shower and I started air drumming all over the place because I had this song from my neighbor's radio stuck in my head and I was dancing and my hands were like birds trying to fly away from my body and the Digimon Wash Mitt called out from the shower tile:

"Hey! Slow down there, buddy! That's not how a drummer drums. First of all, you gotta stop looking at yourself in the mirror. It's vain and disgusting. Second, sit yourself down on the toilet. We're going to talk about positioning."


I am a young boy who loved to play his Digimon Collectible Card Game. I was one of the first in my school to make the transition from Magic the Gathering to the Digimon Collectible Card Game, and let me tell you, it was no smooth transition. It was like at snack time going from Fruit-Roll-Ups to Fruit-by-the-Foot. But I liked the drawings better and I liked the attack rows. I mean attack rows. It's like taking fighting and doing -- well, you just have to play it.


I am a young boy who loved to play his Digimon Collectible Card Game, but I've put my decks away now beneath my dresser where they're hard to reach and only dust bunnies can play with them. I wear my blackest black t-shirt -- what I call grief black -- because nothing seems right anymore.


My neighbor, the one who plays the radio loud, told me girls don't like boys who wear black because they lost a toy. I am a young boy who isn't allowed to leave his room because he has been deemed not in control of his emotions and he lashes out and punches -- perhaps a few too many times -- radio-playing neighbors who say terrible things.


I am a young boy who is -- if my neighbor and pretty much every friggin kid in the friggin school is to be believed -- a little pudgy. My mom and dad haven't seen me naked since the first grade because I don't like being vulnerable. The only time I don't wear clothes is when I'm in the shower and the only person who ever saw me then was my Digimon Wash Mitt. He'd say:

"There was a time, not just because of the diet of their time or preconceived notions of wealth, that people with weight on their hips were considered attractive. Look in a museum at all the naked women there and how when they lay on their sides and their bellies would hang from their ribs like giant egg yolks. That's a standard of beauty I'd like to scrub."

And I'd tell him to cut talking about ladies or whatever or I'd make him face the wall, but really, all that talk would make me feel less vulnerable.


I am a young boy who doesn't leave his room not because he is not in control of his emotions or because he has body issues but because his Digimon Wash Mitt is dead and, at least incidentally, my neighbor killed him.


I am a young boy chased home from school who never learned to just weave between parked cars if someone was after me on a bike. My neighbor came up behind me and hit me in the head, and when I fell a Digimon Collectible Card Game deck flung from my pocket. He picked it up and started tossing the cards out into the street the way you skip stones so they were ricocheting all over the place and even if it wasn't wet on the ground I don't think I could have gotten them all.

"Digimon is just a Pokemon ripoff!" said the neighbor standing by my front door.

"Whatever, I don't even care," I said, hoping he'd just stop.

"Digimon is just a Pokemon ripoff!" he said again.

"I know it is, whatever." And I went inside my house and sat down on my bed and maybe would have cried but instead I had to get up to take a pee.


I am a young boy witness to a heinous sight not meant for young eyes. I went into the bathroom and it was all steamed like someone had taken a shower even though no one was home. There was this terrifying chickenscratch in the condensed fog on the mirror, a message to me. It said:

"Hey there buddy. Don't blame yourself. It was time we stopped all of this. I know you need to talk to someone real -- someone who isn't me -- about everything. And I know the Anime aesthetic from which I sprung is maybe a little insidious in how it portrays all men as clear-skinned, dark-haired, large-eyed superathletes and all women as clear-skinned, dark-haired, large-eyed madonnas. And I'm sorry for that."

The writing continued on the top of the toilet tank:

"But listen, let it be known that I am no one's ripoff. I may have been conceived in the same spirit as Pokemon, but I am my own being and just because someone perceives you some way doesn't mean anything about who you really are."

The writing moved onto the hard plastic shower door:

"So call it in the streets. Tell it to the world: I am not a Pokemon ripoff. Saying that is like saying that sherbet is an ice-cream ripoff. Or, John Mellencamp is a ripoff of John Cougar Mellencamp. We're all the same."

And I threw open the shower door and like a thousand marshmallow Peeps had exploded there was neon streaks everywhere, thick gobs of day-glo blood all over the place and the smell was awful. And there, impaled on the loufa hook, his hideous eyes half shut and his mouth twisted in pain, was my Digimon Wash Mitt.


I am a young boy whose imaginary friend killed himself. You tell me, why should I be in control of my emotions?

Illustration by Reno