When I Grow Up, by

       When I grow up, I want to be a warlock.  It runs in our family 
Not my dad.  He's a pharmaceuticals salesman.  Mom calls him a drug
dealer, but he sells things like Tylenol Plus and constipation aids to doctors and medical centers.  Granddad says magic skips a Dee every few generations. 
        But me-I've got the warlock genes. Granddad says I've got the 
I.mickey," too. That sounds too much like Disney for me. I think he means I've got the spunk, the spark, the guts for it. 
         The dictionary says a warlock is a male witch or a man practicing the black arts.  But Granddad has given me a list of names to memorize and I like those much better.  The list is almost like a poem.
          He says there are many other names, some of them not to be said in front of women or the faint-hearted.  I think he means they are swears, but I am not sure. 
          When I get older I will wear a long black robe with a neat pointy hood.  I'll be allowed to tie the robe with a special belt, just like they do in karate.  Only the warlock belt is more like a rope with special medals on it, for the spells and things.  Granddad!s got thirteen different ones, including a cat in silver, a circle with an X in it in gold, and something that looks like three legs running, which is sort of weird but also sort of neat.  The medals are awarded as you get better at your spells, a little like Boy Scout badges, I guess, only more important since it's your life's work.
          There's an oath, too, only I am not allowed to write it down.  For one, it would scorch the very paper, and for another, people who are not warlocks aren't supposed to hear it.  But it's all about honesty and loyalty to the community and doing good and following the healer's art.
           I will be my granddad's apprentice for seven years and then a journeyman for seven more before becoming a high mage or a master warlock.  That sounds like a long time, I know, but Granddad says if I start now, when I am seventeen I will be a journeyman, and a master at twenty-four. T hat's about when someone learning to be a doctor would just first be getting his or her hands on a patient.  And I can still go to college at the same time.  Or be a rock star, which is the otber thing I
want to be. 
           Now the bad things.  I will have a lot to memorize, like the words of spells and the right way to summon a demon or angel.  You have to get it right, or - oh, boy!  I had a great-uncle who got the words reversed on one summons, my granddad said, and called a rain demon when he really wanted to summon a drain demon to fix the kitchen sink.  You've heard of the Johnstown Flood?  Well, that was my greatuncle Paul's doing.
           And then there are the plants.  Do you know how many plants there are?  Even here in Westchester County?  Not only do I have to know the names - common, technical (that means Latin!), and magical, I also have to know when they grow, where they grow, and all about the uses of root, leaf, bud, flower, stamen, and pistil. (I used to think Granddad meant a pistol, like a gun, and wondered which flowers had those.) In fact, I will probably have to major in botany in college just to get it all right. Dad insists that his pharmaceuticals can do everything that plants do and more.  He and Granddad get into arguments about it every time Granddad comes to dinner.  Mom calls it our own private drug war.
           Also, I have to know the difference between the Good Arts and the Bad Arts (not black arts, as people who don't know any better call them). The problem is, the Bad Arts are really more fun to do, like turning people into newts and toilet-papering the top of a church tower.  I have to know the difference, and know how to do them all. nd then NOT do the Bad Arts.  Granddad explained that in order to know what to avoid, I have to learn the bad stuff as thoroughly as the good.  Mom doesn't let me practice any of it at home.  She says it all smells funny, and maybe it does.  When you are working with spells, though, you don't smell it yourself.
           So every day after school, and after baseball practice, I spend an
    hour at Granddad's house practicing my spelling.  And I have a lesson
    every Saturday morning and a test on things once a month, usually on
    the thirteenth, because numbers are real important, too.
      That's all I can think to write about What I Want to Be When I
    Grow Up.  I hope this is what you wanted.  And I hope you believe me
    and don't think I am making this up, like Mrs. Cassiday did last year
    when she gave us the same assignment.  Being a newt, even for just a
    few minutes, is really very uncomfortable.  If you ask her directly, she
    will probably tell you.

                                     Michael Dee



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