Mark Twain Senior was born in 1591 to Chinese-Scottish parents in the still smoldering remains of the original Roanoke colony. He would be the ripe age of 280 before he would father the boy that history remembers as Mark Twain, a son whose fame would eventually swallow that of his father like a catfish swallowing a Christmas ornament.
But the multi-centennial life MTS, or "Mitsy" as he was later know in riverboat pirating circles, is worth a deeper consideration because it offers a fascinating glimpse into the unkillable, Nosferatu-like nature of the American Spirit.
As we've said, Mitsy's parents were Scottish-Chinese crossbreeds bred in the lowest of the Scottish Highlands for use in experimental rice-filled haggis factories. Hearing tales of the discovery and settling of a "new world" on the other side of the globe, the couple, McTao and O'Xi Senior, embarked upon a project to tunnel through the earth's mantle to a new land where they could be free to fill sheep's stomachs with rice at their own goddamned pace.
Several geometrical miscalculations and a six-month siege by the Rock Creatures of the Second Circle delayed the voyage long enough that the Dutch colonists had already succumbed to their smallpox enema addiction. Squatting astride the blackened remains of a cooper's workshop, the Lady Senior gave birth to her first and only son, whom they named Mark, after the sound made by the thousands of carrion birds feasting upon the corpses all around them.
Young Mark "Twain" Senior proved uniquely suited to life on the harsh worlds of pre- and post-colonial America, due mostly to his mother's diet of powdered granite and magma while he was in utero. He grew to seven feet tall by his twelfth birthday, and then began shrinking down to an average five-foot-9 by the time he finished puberty. Stories from the time claim he could skip a stone fifteen times across Lake Marion before he was off the teat, and his hair was so oily that he sold it to the Cherokee Indians for use in lanterns.
When the Revolution came, young Mark Senior, though only 184, did his part for independence by inventing the USO. He toured a primitive burlesque show from encampment to encampment, performing under his showbusiness persona "Madame Raunchy LeBreast". He told jokes, performed the newly invented art of "the strippe tease", and did what we would now call close-up magic, using handkerchiefs, 2-pounder cannonballs, and his audience's wide variety of festering wounds.
He worked his way north through the war, often playing forests and mud dugouts where the rebel soldiers would take shots at the redcoats throughout the entirety of his act. Eventually he reached Pennsylvania where he had the honor of performing for General Washington and his officers. The soon-to-be president recorded in his diary that the show "made up in enthusiasm what it lacked in intelligibility", but that the stripping was "bonerific".
Due to young Mark's success, after the Independence he briefly considered a life in the theatre. But his intelligence and his inherited half-breed rock-crushing wanderlust were just too strong to allow to him to be tied to the east coast. So he struck out for the West, saying, according to one account, that he was "looking for a patch of land and a woman sturdy enough to bear me a litter or two", not understanding until twenty years later that humans usually give birth singly.
Here we will leave our aged, oily hero as he strides across the Mississippi with a canoe strapped to his back and his pancreas full of hope. Until next time, this has been
THE FORGOTTEN LIFE OF MARK TWAIN SENIOR