Captain John Smith sits on my desk. To be more precise, he stands there. I found him a while back, tucked in a closet corner, forgotten. I picked him up and assessed his condition. He was missing some accessories–his helmet and one leg protector were gone, and the sword I dimly recalled was nowhere in sight–but overall, he seemed to be in fighting condition. He must have fallen out of some haphazardly packed box of my son’s childhood ephemera. I carried him downstairs to place him on my desk.
On our journey downstairs, I idly wondered about the original historic John Smith. What did he really look like? Was he tall, blond and muscular? Did he have all his teeth? What did Pocahontas see in him? I imagined the real man was probably vastly different than this bold Disney-ified version.
It’s been a couple of weeks since then, and John Smith is still standing on my desk. I like him there. He strikes an interesting note amidst the writerly clutter, and I stop and look at him from time to time. I never did google him. I don’t wonder about his appearance or his life now. I don’t think about his story. Instead, when I look at him, I always think about my son. I remember him playing with this treasured figure, and oh-so-many others, devising elaborate scenarios of derring-do and rescue. I remember his small hand clutching John Smith about his trim waist, moving him to and fro and his young voice artificially deepening to create his version of an adult masculine voice. It never fails to make me smile.
Note: I saw my son this past weekend. He’s 25 now, almost 26, and I mentioned to him that I’d found his John Smith figure. He immediately grinned. I could feel the sands of time shift for him as well.