The Formula for Why I Am Like I Am, in a Few Section Breaks

Joshua Bohnsack

First, I lay out a moment of innocence that my audience realizes is a moment of naivety from my childhood that changed my trajectory, which I use to blame for the reasons why I am unhappy without blaming it.

Now, a hint about how my life has gone. Maybe I don’t have a job, or my wife left me. Maybe I have those things in my life, but they don’t appreciate me, or I them. But I don’t come on too strong. I make it kind of funny, so you think I’m not a totally miserable person. Hit that sweet spot of pity and empathy. It’s my childhood’s fault remember?

Back to my childhood, when I met that man who ruined things. It’s definitely a man, and even if it were not, I wouldn’t say it wasn’t a man, because it’s easier to hate a man who wrongs a child. I don’t blame my audience. I hate him too. And now you know why.

Skip a little bit of time, to where I’m growing up, and the thing the man has done has impacted my life. I probably wouldn’t have made the basketball team anyway, but how am I to know, now? I was good at school before the man, and his presence happened to coincide with long division. I want you to feel sorry for me, because it’s more rewarding than feeling sorry for myself, and I do plenty of that.

Sometimes the man isn’t a man. Sometimes it’s a bite from a rabid animal. Sometimes it’s the death of a relative. Sometimes it isn’t a man, but men, and it’s not me their wronging, but society, represented through my perspective. So, when I tell you I never stood a chance in this world, you believe me, at least for a little while.

Joshua Bohnsack is the author of Shift Drink (Spork Press) and his work has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, Maudlin House, and others. He is an editor for TriQuarterly and Long Day Press. He grew up on a farm and moved to Chicago.