Some years ago, because I’m an asshole, I created a phony blog called Hell Is For Children. Ostensibly written by an imaginary teenager by the name of Pendel Haight, I wanted to see how many strangers I fool into believing in him and his various plights. I did this because I have absolutely no consideration for other people and only want what is best for myself and my sense of entertainment.
I labored over Pendel’s posts. I mined my own memories of painful, burgeoning adulthood. I poured over Google Maps to find the roads upon which he might travel. I studied death metal bands so he could speak of them with believability. I tried to let myself go completely and become this young man. To not worry about words the way Jose worries about words, and to just let Pendel ramble in any damn way he wanted. And then I would tear through it again and obsess over the words. And then I would realize how much better it was before I f**ked with it and I would change it back…with a few minor tweaks.
The response was extraordinarily gratifying. At one point during Pendel’s active posting, he had 250 regular followers (give or take a few), which FAR exceeded the number of people following my legit blog. I found this amazing for numerous reasons, including:
- The kind of trouble in which Pendel eventually involved himself became increasingly unlikely
- The average length of a post was around 1200 words, with some of the more involved entries pushing 2500 words—unthinkable for a blog
- Not many teenagers write like an overly grandiloquent 40-year-old
- The kid’s name is Pendel, for the love of Christ
I’d love it if everyone immediately stopped what they’re doing and read the entire blog from beginning to end and loved it and admired it and then called their ex-lovers at HBO and told them about the wonderful discovery they stumbled across. I would then like to become the creative head of a raw and unflinching HBO series about Pendel Haight and start a new life as a human of worth. However, if you’re like me and hate helping people do anything, by all means jump straight to one of my favorite entries and read it for thirty seconds before you get completely bored and go back to staring at the Below Deck marathon on Bravo for the next 13 hours:
- Taco Night
- Golf Won’t Save Me
- Poor Little Fellah
- The Way-Fucked Circle of Life
- Charlie Can’t Feel His Face
- Light A Fire
People responded to this kid because his life was a mess and he seemed powerless to turn it around; indeed, he often inexplicably and willingly drove himself deeper into trouble with every step he took. He found fault with nearly everything, and his only defense against the many spears and sticks raised against him was self-destruction. I think everyone has tried this futile tactic at some point in their life. Maybe some of you are doing it now. If this sounds like you, please stop. It’s a very silly way to behave and you’re only making things worse for yourself and everyone close to you. Life is better when we purge negativity, but humans like Pendel are helplessly drawn to the dark side. He was not an evil soul, and therefore could not thrive upon shadow, but the tragedy of Pendel lies in his inability to avoid it nonetheless.
I loved working on this project. Though so deeply flawed in so many ways, it’s also some of my best writing. Never a week goes by where I don’t think about picking back up the pen and writing Pendel’s next post, finding himself older yet no wiser, finding life no more gratifying than he did when he took the actions that landed him in minimum security.
Click here and read it. Or some of it. Or even just a sentence. And then feel free to tell me what you think in the comments section below.