Hey Bookworms! Family drama really is the worst huh? Tense holidays where everybody has too much wine and inevitably gets into a full on family smackdown. Christmas trees ripped from their stands and whipped side long onto the yard during an overly intense decorating session. Questions around the dinner table that are so passive aggressive that even Hannibal Lecter would be uncomfortable.
Would therapy even exist if people were able to coexist with their parents in an emotionally healthy way? Maybe it would. But the Jersey Devil aka The Leeds Child aka The Hoodle Doodle Bird certainly would not. That’s right kids, the Jersey Devil isn’t just a hockey team mascot, he’s a real live being from a large dysfunctional family that’s just trying to do his thing in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. He’s like a Springsteen song come to life.
The poor kid has real mother issues. See, before he was born his parents already had twelve kids. Maybe his folks were hoping that things like small pox and roving bears would trim down their herd, but the family remained in bafflingly good health. When Mother Leeds found out that she was pregnant with yet another child she was super frustrated. How was she going to continue to feed and clothe all of her miraculously healthy offspring? Now she was going to have another one to worry about? Nope. No, ma’am. She was sick of it. “Let this one be a devil!” she shouted.
That was a terrible idea. I don’t know if it was because she was pregnant with her unlucky thirteenth child or if there was some sort of astrological phenomenon at work when she made that wish. Who knows why but her curse worked. When her bouncing bundle of joy was born it had a long goat/horse like head, bat wings, horns, cloven hooves, and it’s whole body was covered in coarse fur. Good job, mom. After it was born it stretched it’s adorable little wings and the midwife screamed so JD panicked and ate her which caused Mother Leeds and the other children to scream. It was a real hot mess up in there and JD could tell that this was not going to be a nurturing environment so he swallowed the last bite of midwife and flew up through the chimney and out of the house.
He decided to set up in a thick forest called the Pine Barrens and JD did alright for himself. Every once in a while though, he would get this craving to connect with his family so he would fly out to the Leeds cabin and sit on the porch rail waiting for his mother to come out. He thought maybe they could reconnect but she would just walk out with a broom and shoo him away as she told him that he needed a haircut and asked why he couldn’t be a blacksmith like his brother Walt. Parents just don’t understand.
JD would get mad and figure that if his mom was so ashamed of him he would give her something to be ashamed about and then he would attack a farm or a town festival.
Sometimes he ate livestock but if Mother Leeds really got under his skin he would snack on a kid. Hurt people hurt people, you know? JD’s negative outbursts did not win him any fans. The townsfolk started leading hunting parties through the woods but they never could find JD. I mean, the dude can fly; they obviously weren’t going to catch him. He would get irritated that they were acting like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and eat some more of their cows and then they would hunt for him again. It was a cycle of unhealthy behavior that continued for a couple hundred years but it seems like JD has really been working on himself for the last eighty years or so, his attacks have pretty much ceased and people still spot him on occasion while they’re out walking in the woods but they live to tell the tale.
People still hunt him but now they mostly bring cameras instead of guns. JD has really become a beloved figure in New Jersey history and I’m so proud of him. I like to think he’s out there in the woods right now sharing what he’s learned with forest creatures or stranded hikers that need it. So, the next time you’re at a Thanksgiving dinner that may break out into a physical fight think about our buddy the Jersey Devil. Put your little cousin Stevie down. Eating him won’t solve anything. Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are bigger than this situation. Be patient and love yourselves Bookworms! I’ll catch you on the flippity flop.