The Book Of Todd


By David Christensen

'Bennie and the Jets' -- my favorite song! -- came on while I was playing Truth or Dare with the J twins, Brett and Brent Johansson. It was Saturday night, and I was sleeping over in the basement rec room at their house in North Salt Lake. When I turned up the volume Brett pinched out his T-shirt to make boobies. 'How can you rock,' he sang in a weird, high voice, 'if you ain't seen it yet?'

'It's 'Say, Candie and Ronnie, have you seen them yet?'' I explained (I know all the words), 'and that's not a girl singing. That's Elton.'

'Well,' said Brent, 'he has a girl voice.'

'No, he doesn't.'

'You have a girl voice,' Brett told me.

'I hear he's a pre-vert,' said Brent. 'Like you, Todd.' Then both twins snickered. I just ignored them. They're always saying dumb junk like that.

Elton's not a pervert. He's from England. His real name's Reginald Dwight and he lives in an all-white mansion. I've read about him in magazines. His Greatest Hits album's propped up on my dresser like a painting on an easel. I can see it even when I'm in bed. On the cover there's a picture of him sitting on his piano bench in a white suit, a white hat, pink sunglasses, and a bow tie. A figurine of a boy is pinned to his jacket. The boy's looking down like he's shy, or sad. Elton's legs are apart, and right where his pants bunch up at his crotch there's a bulge. I can almost see his dink.

'Hey,' I said, 'I'll bet you each an Almond Joy that 'Bennie' will be number 1 tomorrow on American Top 40.' It's the best. Just last week I tried three different times to play those huge chords Elton plays in it, but my hands are too small. Dad likes to hear me try, though. He likes to listen to me do 'Prelude in A' by Chopin, too.

'No way,' said Brett. ' 'Band on the Run' is gonna win.'

Brent said 'Billy, Don't Be a Hero' would.

'It's a bet.'

'Your turn, Todd. Truth or Dare?'

'I'll take Truth,' I said. On my first turn I'd chosen Dare. They made me go upstairs and sing part of 'Bennie and the Jets' for Bishop Johansson, their dad. He just looked up from the church book he was reading and said, 'Sounds like a lady!' Then on my second turn I chose Truth, and they asked me what my favorite thing to do when I'm home alone is. I told them I go into the bathroom I share with my big sisters, shut the door till it clicks (it doesn't lock'Dad says he doesn't believe in locks), and make a 'batch.' That's a cup of Tammi's baby powder mixed with half a cup of Donna's rose-petal lotion. I dump the ingredients into the tub and stir them together with my fingers until they make a gooey dough. Then I break up the dough, pat the pieces into a dozen pink cookies, and frost them with lilac air freshener sprayed so close it foams. It's fun. I bet Elton does stuff like that when he's alone in his mansion.

'OK,' said Brett. 'Truth: Tell us a secret about yourself that nobody knows, not even your parents.'

Something my parents don't know? I wondered. Now that the twins knew about my batches, I didn't have anything else to say. I sure couldn't tell them what I'd tried to do to the Avon bottle. Mom buys this Avon bubble bath. It comes in a pink plastic bottle that's all ripply, like the model of the large intestine at my doctor's office. I like playing with the suds when I bathe. I scoop up a handful and pretend it's a hamster. (Dad won't let us have real animals in the house.) I pet it, then blow hard and watch it go splat against the wall. Last Sunday I tried to put my dink in that bottle, but the hole was too small and the edges scratched my skin.

'That's not fair!' I pleaded. 'I tell my parents everything.'

'Yeah,' Brent agreed, 'let him tell something his parents know, as long as no one else does.'

'Oh, alright,' Brett said, but he didn't look too happy.

I could only think of one thing to say: I'm not circumcised. Dad doesn't believe in that, either -- they don't circumcise boys on the ranch where he was born. He says I have to stretch the skin back every day or it might grow together and close off the tip. Then I'd have to have an operation to go to the bathroom. Dad checks up on me sometimes when I'm bathing. I tell him I skin it back every day, but I never do. The encyclopedia says boys don't get circumcised in places like England, and they don't have to have operations to go to the bathroom.

'OK, you guys. I'll tell. But you have to swear on The Book of Mormon you won't spread it around.'

'What is it?' they asked together.

'I'm not circumcised.'

'Huh?' asked Brett. He looked angry.

'I'm not circumcised,' I said again, slower.

Brett looked over at Brent. 'What's that mean?'

'Oh, c'mon, Brett. You know. He says his woody has a hoody.'

'His woody has a hoody -- ha!' They both roared.

'I don't have a woo-'' I started to say.

Brent pointed at the front of my pants. 'I don't believe you,' he said. 'Prove it.'

'Yeah,' said Brett. 'Whip it out.'