#787 Abou Ben…. Norman… (with thanks to James Hunt) 8-5-18

Abu Ben
Norman,
may his tribe increase,
awoke one…
day
in the deep, safe, niche of rapier sarcasm
he had honed on the hides of the bullies
who had abused him in middle-school
with taunts and shoves in the halls
and soakings in the gym locker-room-showers
while that bastard
“Coach”
chuckled in his office
at the screams coming from a drenched Norman.

“Chubs”,
they nick-named him.
The only child of parents
who took the disappointments
from their own obese lives
out on their son
who needed some defense
against them and the rest of his world
so he created his
hysterical-fat-boy-wit-persona
to lacerate his foes at every opportunity
becoming a more dangerous bully
than any of the stupid jocks and handsome hunks
foolish enough to attempt to hurt him.

Norman developed a hide
thicker than any flesh
around his heart and mind
and lived,

isolated,

in the crowded halls and bus
while his wounds festered
or,
sometimes,
healed
and he waited,

“en guarde”

poised to lash out again,
even when he was barely threatened by,
maybe,
a remark,
even a hint of a remark,
a rejoinder
to some other comment not aimed at him
but felt like it was
so he slashed out
and more blood would spill
until
he separated

himself

from even those who would be his friends,
quasi-allies
in that most dangerous of war-zones,

a high-school

and that’s how he felt:

self-protected,

until,

one day,

one

ordinary, miraculous day,

Norman mumbled something

and that damn-English-Teacher
heard Norman’s mumble,
an answer
to an answer
to an answer
and his mumble
was a good one
so the damn-teacher said,

“Wait a second!
I heard that!
Norman?
Did that come from you?
Say it loud and say it proud, Norman.
It’s a good thought and not a slam,
so,
Norman,
what did you say?
Norman?
Norman?
What did you say?
Come on, Norman.
What have you got to lose?
No one’s gonna take you on,
not here in my room!
So say what you have to say about…”

(And here I have to point out:
it doesn’t matter
what book
or what theme
or anti-hero
or golden boy
or who said what
to whom.

What mattered was,

Norman’s armor
split,
just a thin seam in the iron plates.)

And he spoke
sympathetically,
even gently,
perceptively,
about something,

(Who knows why
that day?
Who cares why!
They’re kids for Christ’s sake!
Hormones!)

and the others in the class said,

“Ah.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s right!”

“Cool idea!”

“…. Norman?”.

But the bell rang.
But no one moved
And the Damn-Teacher asked,

“Norman?
Do you have anything else to give us?”

and Norman said

“Yes.”

But the door opened
and other students,
dumb-assed freshman,
oblivious to the universe!
were stumbling into the room
for the Damn-Teachers next class
so the Damn-Teacher said,

“Hay! Brats!
Wait outside a second.
We’re having a moment here,
aren’t we Kiddies?”

and the seated Kiddies said

“Yeah.”

And the Brats backed out,
and

everyone

waited

for Norman to finish
what he wanted to say

and the Damn-Teacher said,
“You may not know it now, Norman,
but this is a pivot in your life.
Speak to us.”

And Norman spoke
and then
Norman was done.

And one of the students got up to leave.
As he passed Norman in the aisle,
he high-fived Norman
and

Norman

high-fived him back

and the moment was over

and the Damn-Teacher said,

“Tune in tomorrow for the next
Thrill-Packed-Episode-Of-
The-Danger-Zone…!”

and Norman said,
but,
with a new tone,

“Damn!
Mr. Teacher!
Can’t you leave a tender moment alone?”

And everyone laughed.

And the whole world

smiled with Norman

…and the book of gold was open
and his name was there.

About Ken Greenman

Married and Happy. Retired and busy. Living in NC. 71 and counting. December 12, 2020 and it's 72! ... I would love some written comments, critiques, adulation or kind suggestions.... If you have the time and or inclination, please feel free! Not in fear but by faith. We will see. See you later! If you ever want to talk for real, email me and I will send you my cell number.... I am enjoying this!
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