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Ducking Wilder Responds:
Whatever happened to T&J?

Dear Mr. Wilder,

Whatever happened to T&J? Were they a flash in the pan, a one trick pony? Where did they go? What was the matter with them in the first place? These questions gnaw at me like a dog gnawing a bone. Please answer quickly. I can't sleep nights wondering.

Norm Norman

Hello, Norm,

You have a unique name. I do not recall ever having been acquainted with a Norm Norman. Are you from Oregon? I would expect the name is quite common in Oregon though it is uncommon elsewhere. I have never visited Oregon, but I have heard, through various sources, a substantial portion of the Beaver State population possesses the name.

I have pondered your questions seriously, and because of my serious pondering, I have not answered you "quickly." I determined you would prefer a few extra "sleepless nights" to a hasty and incomplete reply. You see there are many angles to your questions. The answers they provoke are multi-faceted and complex. So in order to allow for multiple facets without facetiousness, I ignored your dilemma of insomnia in order to provide the fullest explanation.

You apparently have some ideas of your own. Phrases like "flash in the pan" and "one trick pony" suggest you have been privy to unsubstantiated rumors leading you to a premature supposition. If so, you are to be commended for seeking the facts.

T&J exist as they always have existed - in reasonable stability, esteemed members of our alphabet, albeit separated by 1/5th of the vowels and almost the consonants. Their usefulness remains highly regarded by writers in various Indo-European languages. In English, the two letters do not exist side by side in the context of a single word. However, and this is particularly interesting, in a small, Russian Orthodox chapel in what was once and again known as St. Petersburg (between the years of the Russian Revolution and 1991, the city was known as Leningrad), a large glass vessel containing a hodgepodge of saintly relics, when translated from the Cyrillic, is known simple as The Tjar. This is the only instance of the two acting in conjunction to form a word.

However, as I have said, the questions you pose insist upon different answers. There is another T&J, or was, or always will be. Allow me to explain.

The story begins in St. Louis, in the late portion of the first half of the last century. Two boys, twin sons of different mothers, loners except for their friendship, embarked on a journey which would deliver them into the maw of online literary magazines in the later years of the past millennium. The story is long and tedious. You can imagine, as it spans several decades. I will summarize by presenting you with a few highlights:

  • An open boxcar
  • A torn five-dollar bill
  • A work shed filled with pump handles
  • A whore or, perhaps, several
  • Calamine lotion
  • Pirates

    You get the picture. Has there been an end to this illustrious association? Rest assured, the answer is no. They endure. They endure in our memory like Martin and Lewis, Rick and Renault, Hitler and Goering. Their achievements will continue to influence long after you have fallen asleep. No, T&J's association cannot be said to have ended, nor their feats considered one trick or pan-flash. The surreality into which they twisted the thinking minds of a generation will ensure no end comes of T&J.

    Where are they now? I have it on the QT, T&J are, even as you begin to drift into slumber, leaping into an open boxcar, a five-dollar bill and one bottle of calamine lotion between them, running from a work shed full of pump handles, looking for a whore, perhaps several, jick-jacking the pretentious and consorting with pirates, being pirates themselves.

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