One more to close out the school year! Yesterday the sixth-graders at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Kankakee, Illinois, voted on the character interview they’d most like to see, after Shelly, Bender, and Igor. This time the vote went to
JAY THOMAS PASTERNAK III
What’s your favorite color?
Blue and silver. Go, Cowboys!
What do you consider to be your strongest quality?
Setting a goal and sticking to it.
In what area of your life would you most like to improve?
Life’s pretty good right now; I’d be almost afraid to “improve” it. Or me.
Okay, I guess there’s one thing. I freak a little too easily. It may not look like it, especially compared to Spencer, but like for instance. When I started going nearsighted, I didn’t want to admit it. It went on for a long time—even last year I started noticing, but I kept hoping it would get better on its own. Nobody in my family wear glasses. Peppy still has eyes like a hawk; he told me so. He just uses reading glasses sometimes. Even my dad. So I didn’t mention it to anybody for a whole year, even when I started missing Poppy’s throws. He brought it up himself: how’s your eyes lately? It wasn’t until early this year that I had to say something, because I was writing the wrong assignment pages down from the smart board. Just admitting it made it seem like the end of the world for a while. I know that’s stupid, but it took some attitude adjustment. All the time I was thinking I should be able to take it more in stride. NFL players get injured all the time. And I see it in the movies; star runner gets body-slammed, the doc says he’ll never be able to play again but he sucks it up and . . . Forget the sucking-up, I just don’t want anything like that to happen in the first place. I have to be extra careful.
Who had or has the most influence on you? How and/or why?
That’s easy. Without Poppy I never would’ve been able to develop my talent to this level, or get as much fun out of it. My dad’s a good dad, but he’s just not into the whole pigskin thing. I would have grown up watching the History Channel and not have a clue until I got to high school, maybe, about a whole big side of my life.
What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Happy, friendly, fun.
What do others not understand about you?
Whoa, dude. I’m not sure what there is to understand. I mean, I’m pretty much out there all the time, you know?
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I’ll be in the top ten contenders for the Heisman Trophy and talking to pro sports agents. I’d really like for both Cowboys and Steelers to be bidding for me, but I’d settle for one or the other, plus at least one more club showing a strong interest. Maybe an expansion team, like the Titans or Panthers. I could live with that.
What was the happiest moment of your life?
I don’t know if I would pick a happy moment. But a happy time would be winter. You’d probably guess my favorite time of the year is the fall, but actually it’s between Christmas and Super Bowl, when the playoffs are going on. On Monday and Sunday nights, I run across the commons after dinner—Mom always yells, “Is your homework done?” and I always say Yes. It usually is. Cold air freezing my ears as I sprint through the woods, dodging trees like they were defensive blocks, leap onto the patio like I’m clearing the goal posts, chest-bump the grill, knock on the glass door. Geemaw slides it open, hot dry air rubs my face (they’re always arguing about where to set the thermostat). She says, “Come on in out of the cold, Trey! You want some spice tea?” I love her spice tea—she loads it up with extra sugar and Tang and puts in a cinnamon stick to stir it with. Poppy won’t touch the stuff, calls it warm syrup. He’s already set up in his Lay Z Boy with a can of beer and a bowl of Doritoes or popcorn, with the platform rocker pulled up for me. That’s Geemaw’s chair, but she never watches the game so she doesn’t mind Poppy moving it as he puts it back. Which he never does anymore, so I do it myself just before going home, so they’ll have one less thing to fight about. The fighting doesn’t really bother me, since it doesn’t seem to bother them. I’d just rather they wouldn’t, especially if it’s got anything to do with me. Anyway, those few minutes before the game starts, when I’m stirring my spice tea with the cinnamon stick and we’re talking over our picks and he’s threatening to trounce me on the averages again, and we don’t kind what kind of surprises the game is going to have for us . . . I don’t remember being any happier than that.
What is your greatest fear?
Do we have to talk about fear again? Okay: knees. Then calves. Then shoulders. I just have to be careful.
If you died tomorrow, what would your ideal epitaph be?
Uh-uh. I’m not going there. No way.