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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CHAPTER 7 – SCHOOL FOR GIFTED CHILDREN – Excerpt from the novel Johnny Oops

Just when you think you have life by the cajones, fate grabs hold and squeezes the complacency out of you. It’s my own fault. I sold my father such a bill of goods on our fishing trip he decided to go all out to assure that I have a bright future. Who asked him? Anyway, he used his muscle at Yale to get me into an experimental Junior High School for gifted children; Yale it seems has some input in the school’s curriculum. Now I’m going to be surrounded by other would be geniuses. This is the pits. I don’t need peers. I need a flock to appreciate my wisdom.

I decided to separate myself from the other kids by evidencing my obvious superiority even to this august group of wanna bees. So I invented a new religion. I call it Dialectic Spiritualism. It meets the needs of the time we live in. The short form definition of it is that it allows people to practice a reasoned logical belief in a universal entity that has overall control over our lives -- a Supreme Being, the one God. Belonging to an organized religion is neither a requirement nor a deterrent to the ‘practice’. All you really have to do is believe that there is a reason for everything even if you’re too stupid to understand it. That’s what I’m here for. I am the interpreter. I am the Messenger. The ‘practice’ involves an acceptance of the fact that we humans are weak, frail, scared, insecure, and desperately in need of believing in a Supreme Being that will keep us safe and out of harms way. Once you accept this doctrine you are automatically a member of the club. We don’t have actual churches in Dialectic Spiritualism. Our faith is based on need, want, and fear for our very lives. No other symbols are required. To be a successful convert you simply have to believe. In other words, you have to have Faith.

Like most leaders of a new religious movement, I am meeting some resistance from the uninformed who consider my views not secular enough for them. This Dialectic Spiritualism stuff is definitely not for the Atheists in the school. Don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid of getting burned at the stake or anything -- this is the twenty-first century. It is more like I am being shunned. I don’t mind. I am used to being alone. Even when I had Billy for a friend I was alone. I notice I’m not the only kid here who is alone. Traveling through the halls in groups of one seems to be the schools dress code.

“If you are uncertain about the future, if you are unhappy, if you are in need, come with me. All that is required is a reasoned faith in the Almighty.” That’s what I tell my flock in my sermons in the hallowed halls of the Esperanza School. I can tell they are listening because they stop milling around. The nervous tapping of feet stops, crotch scratching stops, hair primping stops and best of all the various nervous ticks and twitches of these pseudo intellects seem to come to rest. That’s the only recognition I get that they are listening to the Messenger.

“Don’t be afraid I tell them. You are the chosen ones. You have been selected by nature in Gods good wisdom to lead this country out of fear and complacency. You are the ones. Only you and I can make a difference. We are special. We have promise. It’s preordained.”

The third time I gave my sermon I observed no change in reaction by my flock. I was beginning to get disillusioned. Then an event occurred that was to be a major epiphany in my life. A girl came over to me after my speech and introduced herself. She told me how much she enjoyed my sermon. She told me I had given her faith. She now believed in the righteousness of Dialectic Spiritualism. She told me her name was Alice. For the first time in my life I was speechless. She was kind. Alice understood my shyness. She gave me time to compose myself. I was so grateful.

Alice has good words. In fact everything about her is terrific. She has shiny brown hair, really deep dark sparkling brown eyes, the clearest skin I ever saw -- I am getting that teenage scourge called acne -- and the most beautiful sympathetic smile you could ever imagine. When she smiles at me I melt inside. I feel all warm and prickly. I don’t know what’s happening to me. I think I’m in love. Can you believe it? Me the philosopher genius am in love and with a girl.

We spend all our time together in between classes now. Alice tells me I am really brilliant. She says one day the world will come to appreciate my theories and words of wisdom. I walk her home after school. We hold hands. I feel all sweaty in a good kind of way. I forgot to mention Alice has a great figure. She is two inches shorter than me and has the smallest waist. I can put my hands around it. She is starting to grow really nice breasts. They are small, upturned, and firm, and her nipples show through her sweater. Sorry I shouldn’t lie. I haven’t felt her breasts yet, but I want to. I’m sure they’re firm and delicious. What is happening to me? I am starting to want her in a carnal way. Boy have I changed. Is this what love is all about? How could I have been so dumb? I can’t believe what I’ve been missing. No wonder people get married. I can’t believe what a stupid head I’ve been. Wait till I tell Dad. He has been so worried about me. Nah, he’ll want to teach me about that protection stuff. Alice and I aren’t ready for that yet. We want to take things slow, at least I do. We haven’t even kissed yet. I should ask Alice what her timetable is on kissing. Her opinion is very important to me. I want to be sure I please her. I never cared about making someone else happy before. If this is what it feels like to care for someone I’m all for this scenario. It actually does make you feel better -- this giving pleasure stuff. It pays to believe in your own words. By the way I know the good Lord is looking out for me because Alice is nothing like my mother. She never nags me and when she looks in my eyes it’s with love in her heart. We share deep thoughts together. It is truly wonderful. Life is wonderful. I can’t believe how happy I am.

I have been looking in the mirror lately and I don’t like what I see. First of all I have three damn pimples replete with whiteheads on my forehead and one big one right under my nose. It’s disgusting. Secondly, I am starting to get this red stubble like hair growing on my face and coming right through my freckles. I look ridiculous. My cloths are really grungy: black frayed tee shirts, worn out jeans, and a western cowboy belt. I look like a throwback to Howdy Doody. The worst is my red hair. It seems to go in all directions at the same time. I don’t know how Alice puts up with me. She hasn’t said anything, but I know she cares. I need a makeover.

“Mom, can I talk to you? I think I need some new cloths. The other kids in my new school don’t dress like this. I need some real pants, shirts with sleeves and buttons on them, a pair of loafers, and a new narrow, natural leather belt. Can you take me shopping?”

Anne Wilbert was thrilled. She was pleased the new school was having a positive effect on Johnny and that he was becoming aware of his surroundings. She said, “I am happy to take you shopping if you promise to throw those dungarees out. They have reached a point where I think they can stand up by themselves. We’ll go shopping after school today.”

“One other thing Mom. Do you think the drug store has something to help me get rid of these pimples? It’s embarrassing.”

“I’m sure they do Johnny, we’ll stop by and ask Mr. Katz at the drug store on the way to the Gap.”

“The Gap, I was thinking more in terms of Banana Republic Mom.”

“That’s a little too old for you Johnny. Let’s start with the Gap.”

“OK, but I want real pants -- no more dungarees.”

That’s good old Mom, always trying to keep me from growing up. To bad Mom, I am going to do it anyway.

“Dad, can I talk to you in the bathroom?"

"No, nothing is wrong. I just wanted your opinion on whether I have to start shaving yet, and if so what do I do for a razor?”

“What do you mean once I start I will have to do it everyday? I was planning on once a week.”
“It doesn’t work like that? This is the pits. Oh okay, can you get me a razor, blades and shaving cream?”

“Thanks Dad, this growing up thing is hell.”

“So Alice, what do you think of the new me?”

“I really like it Johnny. You look great. What happened to your face?”

“I cut myself shaving. It’s no big deal. Listen Alice I wanted to ask your opinion on something. We have been going together for almost two weeks now, and I wondered when you think it would be appropriate for us to kiss?”

“Right now would be fine Johnny.”

And so it began. We kissed and entered each other’s mouths and mixed juices and saliva, and only occasionally got caught on invisible braces. It was wonderful. It was the beginning of a whole new way of life. It awakened in me a depth of passion I didn’t know I possessed. You know the funny part. I didn’t have to say oops once. I guess my clumsy stage is coming to an end, at least with Alice it is I hope.

“Watch out world, Johnny Oops is growing up and there is no oops about it.”

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