To Grandpa Judd
Growing up, I didn't know if he was a nutcase or a genius. He was smart--that much was obvious. Hell, he worked on the Manhattan Project. He had massive amounts of information stored in that huge head, accessible at all times.
But then, he'd do things. Things that made you wonder. He'd handle liquid mercury with bare hands, letting the cool reflective metal pool and slide around inside his palm, like it wasn't one of the most toxic substances on earth. Or you'd be having a conversation with him, and he'd start belting out the old mariner's rime "Bells of The Sea" while you stood awkwardly in front of him, nodding your head, until he delivered the final chorus. DONG! DONG! DONG!
He taught at the local university for must his life, and after leaving academia, he set up shop in his garage. Grandpa Judd spent his golden years tinkering, testing, probing, and giving long, impassioned speeches about his Eureka! moments that would often continue even when his audience had fallen asleep or left the room.
I remember him best hunched over the workbench in his gargage, dressed in his standard uniform: black dress slacks hitched up to his nipples (leaving his ankles exposed), a white button-down, ratty sneakers, and a bright orange beanie.
Retirement provided him with ample opportunity and time to explore theories he'd been mulling over for years: a massive conspiracy concerning a campaign of flouride bombs and the government's incremental disposal of the hazardous material in water and toothpaste (hopefully I don't get flagged by the CIA for mentioning this; he always said I would), a cure for both cancer and the common cold which involved boiling mouthwash and inhaling the fumes, and identifying "toe jam" as the deadliest substance known to man. He covered his house with solar panels before it was trendy, installed a drinking fountain in his hallway to conserve water, and believed that elbow grease was the only effective cure for mental illness.
Entering his home often meant consuming large quantities of vitamin C, forgoing the use of toothpaste, and always, ALWAYS wearing shoes, lest you kill the whole Judd clan with the nefarious bacteria growing between your toes. If you happened to be sick, you could expect to be sought out and herded into the kitchen, where you would be made to huff Listerine fumes until some adult came in and saved you.
After accidentally electrocuting one of my cousins in his tomato garden, Grandpa was forbidden to use us grandkids as test subjects, and so for the last twenty years of his life, he more or less experimented on himself.
Apparently, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree: I've seemed to inherit this tendency of self-experimentation from him. I am very much my own guinea pig.
My studies didn't involve neurotoxins or deadly bacteria, but rather human potential, consciousness, and the phenomenon of suffering. Admittedly, several of my last experiments went a little sideways, and I've wanted to hang up the proverbial labcoat more than a few times. But, like Gramps, I simply cannot resist. There are things I just have to know.
And so, although the dearly departed Gerard Judd was a devout, church-going Mormon, and the sort of man who would likely turn crimson at the mention of the word “vagina”, I would like to dedicate the Wild Woman Diary to him. I like to think that he would be proud.
Also, Grandpa, if you're reading this from a gleaming laboratory in the sky, I just want to say, I'm sorry for making fun of you behind your back for the Fluoride. I'm decalcifying my pineal gland as we speak. :)
The Wild Woman Diary is a multimedia artistic project on several platforms.
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