You always wanted to be Betty Rubble.
Betty was the cool one, the one whose giggle said “FUN!” and who always seemed to know the score. If you couldn’t be her, then you wanted to be her best friend. And if it wasn’t Betty Rubble, then it was MaryAnn or Jeannie, Denise or Victoria Barkley or Wonder Woman or any one of a zillion other TV characters whose shows you couldn’t possibly watch enough.
When he was a kid, author Eric Poole wanted to be like Endora on Bewitched, and in his new book “Where’s My Wand?” he conjures up his story.
And the story starts on a muggy St. Louis night in 1969.
Eight-year-old Eric Poole had just left his sister’s bedroom, where the two had huddled, listening to their mother scream at their father.
There was nothing new about that, but everything else was so up-in-the-air that night. The family had just moved to St. Louis and Eric had gotten a “gift-with-purchase” at his new school, in the form of a bully named Tim who, together with the third-grade teacher, “conspired to inflict as much emotional damage as was possible… obviously assuming there were prizes involved.” That was bad enough – but then Eric’s father stormed out of the house.
Something had to be done. Eric admits that he “worshipped the TV show Bewitched”; in particular, the show’s scheming matriarch, Endora. She, of course, wore wonderfully voluminous gowns and waved her arms as she cast her Bewitching spells. And if Endora could do it….
Eric found an old white chenille bedspread. He draped it over his body and hocus-pocus’ed. The next evening, his father was home. A parental truce was declared. The spell obviously worked.
Such potent potions weren’t needed often, but Eric was secure in the knowledge that they were available in a pinch. But as he grew, he discovered that the powers didn’t come from him. As a good church-going Baptist, he learned that God was all-powerful, liking other boys “that way” was a mortal sin, and that sometimes, a bedspread cape was just a bedspread. His illusions dashed and his social life a mess, Eric stopped believing in almost everything.
But then, just as he was about to lose his beloved sister to adulthood, Eric Poole discovered faith and a strong sense of belief – and they came from a very surprising place.
Using gently droll sarcasm and large amounts of an imagination that obviously got a workout over the years, author Eric Poole tells the story of every human, gay or straight, who ever experienced the Great Trifecta of Misfortunes: social unpopularity, familial quirkiness, and chronic geekdom.
There’s humor in “Where’s My Wand?” and for sure, plenty of charm. I loved the way Poole breaks his readers’ hearts, then elbow-nudges us into laughing about it. Without spoiling the ending, I loved the closure he allows us.
If an enchanting memoir is in your cards, you’ll be captivated by this one. Grab “Where’s My Wand?” and sit a spell this summer.
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with two dogs and more than 9,500 books.