Saturday Morning Short Story: Fitting

November 26, 2012
Here’s another “Saturday Morning Short Story…” posted on Monday Morning.  But I had a wonderful week. Our newest Granddaughter Kate was born to son Daniel and his wife Lindsay. She’s very cute and looks like Lindsay. (Pictures soon!)
We also enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday at the Bowers’ of Broken Arrow. Daughter Tricia is engaged to Walt Bowers III and we had a wonderful time getting to know Walt’s family and working on Walt’s fixer-upper real estate purchase. I got the Christmas decorations up, too. Happy times!!
My youngest son also got his driver’s license. That means that I’ll have about an hour and a half more free time each school day!  Hence, I took time to write a new story.  I hope you like “Fitting”.

Fitting

Billy was fat. Not pleasingly plump, not fluffy, just plain fat. He came by it naturally. He weighed in at 12 pounds 4 oz at birth and had multiplied that number by ten by the time he was seven. But those were the days when his generous proportions troubled only his doctor.

There had been a time, when he was a ‘little’ boy, that he believed his fatness to be an advantage. When he was three, his Mommykins had to put her Billykins into the Learn and Grow Daycare Center. There, he met many children with runny noses and lonely eyes and instantly became the most popular boy at ‘mat time.’ The teacher gathered the children around to read to them and naturally the prize seats were beside the soft, warm boy. They leaned on him or rested their heads on his round, welcoming shoulders and remembered the safety of their mothers’ breasts.

When a kid was sick, they soon learned to ask Billy to let them rest their head on his cushioned lap. Billy Bodkins stroked their hair and sung patiently as they napped away their fevers. He never caught the germs, either. His immune system was as formidable as his increasing volume.

And Billy Bodkins was as large of mind as he was body. Larger even.

He learned to read by his mother reading the street signs to him as he rode in his super-sized car seat. For his fourth birthday, his parents gave him a full set of children’s Classics. He took them to school and took over story time, sometimes explaining the archaic idioms in The Secret Garden or David Copperfield to his teachers. He read in such interesting and varied voices that the little tots got the gist of many of the great literary works of the civilized world.  

 When Angie, a new Spanish-speaking student, came to Learn and Grow, she quickly learned the pleasures of snuggling around Billy during story time.  Angie was very sorry to be separated from her mother, too, and stayed close in Billy’s generous shadow on the playground. Within a month, Billy learned to speak Spanish from Angie. He would ask her how to say something and when she told him, he never forgot and could even say it without a gringo accent. He soon incorporated Spanish lessons in with Story time. But he changed the name of ‘story time’ to ‘Literature hour’.

His father taught him algebra and geometry on a whim one Saturday afternoon. When his teachers let him ‘look over’ the financial records of Learn and Grow, he calculated the precise amount needed to raise  rates in order to give the teachers a 5% pay raise. He augmented the pay, also by suggesting streamlined methods of maintenance and more cost effective procurement procedures.

A little Japanese boy came to Learn and Grow and Billy asked him to teach him Japanese. The ornery little boy was ashamed to speak a different language and had a good command of English, too, so he refused. Mommykins borrowed a Japanese learning CD from the public library for Billy to listen to in the car. In a couple of months, Billy and Mommykins both spoke better Japanese than the ornery little wart that wouldn’t help. When Billy spoke to the Wart in his native tongue, he taught Billy how to say “Fatso” in Japanese. This didn’t bother Billy. Anyone with eyes could see that he was fat. And anyone with ears could hear that the Japanese boy was an ornery little Wart.

He had his fifth birthday after two years at Learn and Grow. Mommykins made a cake with Einstein’s theory of relativity on it. Billy carried the cake into Learn and Grow with a solid frown. It wasn’t because he wanted a Carz or BUGZ or Toy Story theme, it was just that E=MC squared was an outdated idea when viewed in the light of string theory or a flexible understanding of distance. And it assumed the speed of light as the ceiling for velocity, which made no sense at all to Billy. Why establish one property of existence as the governing concept for matter? He laughed at the idea! What about the fourth and fifth and infinite more dimensions beyond our little E=MC Squared universe? But he shared large slices of the double-chocolate-cream-filled sponge Cake with all of his friends and teachers and bore his chagrin about the Einstein model with great aplomb.

Before Kindergarten, Mommykins signed up Billy to take the ACT. She told Billy that Bonnyville Elementary had an entrance exam. Since all of his friends at Learn and Grow planned to obtain a higher education at Bonnyville Elementary, he studied hard for the exam. He also practiced his handwriting and spelling. How embarrassing would it be to misspell ‘dessert’ as ‘desert’ or chose to spell “their” as “there” or write “their” when he meant “they’re”? Handwriting was his weakest suite. Mommykins bought him some gel pens and high quality pencils to make it easier, and he bravely forged ahead.

The test astonished him. Anyone could Ace it! First, it was written all in English. Considering their location in Texas, he expected at least sometesting on use of Spanish grammar.

There were a few questions on signs and cosigns and plains and graphs, but only a little trigonometry that took a few seconds of thought. He stumbled for a moment when asked to read a short passage and then answer a few questions about what he had just read. The writer of the test had misplaced a comma and when there was no reference to the mistake in the questions, he thought it must be a trick. But luckily, he remembered that the comma and the period are next to each other on the keyboard and it would not have been difficult for the autocorrect to have mistakenly substituted the comma. It was, no doubt, a case of poor proof reading. Well, nobody’s perfect.

The ACT test results came before the first day of school. Mommykins and Dad looked at the results and scratched their heads and frowned at each and then at him. His stomach quailed. He staggered to them dazedly and glanced over their shoulders. He had scored a 36. A catastrophe! Only 36! He had hoped to be in the 95 range, and now this!

Luckily, the Bonnyville Elementary school was a public establishment and had to take him. He was very nervous for his first day of school, to say the least.

It was horrible. Some of the kids he didn’t know called him ‘Fatso’ in English and weren’t even interested when he tried to tell them how to say it in Japanese or Spanish. When Angie snuggled up to him at ‘story time’, the other children pointed and scoffed until she was shamed into sitting upright.

But the lessons were the worst. The lesson on light spectrums was woefully incomplete and Billy was uncertain if he understood it properly. The teacher held up a red card and the children were supposed to identify items of clothing worn that day that matched. Then she gave them a coloring sheet full of typically red things. But she said nothing of wavelength or how frequency affects visual perceptions and Billy had some difficulty figuring it all out on his own. He turned his sheet over and did some algebraic calculations on the back of his sheet and listed the frequencies his calculations based on varied wavelengths produced, beside the items.

The next day, his teacher called him up and asked him to explain the numbers. His face was as red as the fire truck! He stammered out a weak excuse that he had to guess at the blue wavelength in order to ascertain what the red might be, but if he guessed wrong at the blue, of course his other calculations would be exponentially off. The relationship between wavelength and frequency was the essential thing!

                The Ornery Wart overheard the teacher talking to him and he laughed and pointed his finger. “Stupid and Fat,” the Wart whispered later when they waited in line to wash their hands before snacks. Soon there was a murmured chant. OH, how those words cut. Until that day he had been proud of his generous proportions. He wondered if he would have to be ornery if he was as skinny as the Wart.

Some of the children moved away from him at circle time. Nobody snuggled. Angie wouldn’t speak Spanish to him. It was an English-only school.

Story time was a few minutes with a picture book and some twaddle about pokey puppies or kittens and mittens. On the playground, he couldn’t run as fast as the Ornery Wart and when the children played tag, nobody would tag him because he couldn’t catch anyone.

But with all that, the blue miscalculation must have been a serious mistake. Later that week, the District psychologist came to speak to him. Billy tried to explain how he arrived at the supposition about the blue wavelength/frequency relationship governing the taller waves of light, and how if someone would just tell him the true number for blue, he could make it all right. He promised to fix it. But the teacher wouldn’t tell him.

After a week of misery, the school psychologist, Billy’s teacher, Mommykins and Dad held a conference. They told Billy to play in the play corner while they talked. He knew it was rude to eavesdrop, so he set up a twelve point chain reaction using legos,  wooden blocks and a marble maze. Then he reprogramed his teacher’s computer to calculate physics. He had been off on the frequency range! The two sums must equal the speed of light, of course. Oh, he really was stupid. But he comforted himself that the equations for predicting the other color’s wavelength/frequency relationships worked properly and with the correct blue number, all the others fell into line exactly.

He moved closer to the knot of adults to explain and try to justify the mistake. To his horror, he saw that Mommykins had his ACT test results. The psychologist looked at his ‘36’ and shook her head and looked at him, very troubled. His teacher showed his parents his blue light wave length calculations. It was hardly fair, he thought, when nobody would tell him the true number. It was hopeless to explain.

They kicked Billy out of Kindergarten. Mommykins and Dad told him the news when they tucked him into bed that night. They said that the school would provide him with a tutor. Billy couldn’t help himself. He cried. He cried and cried and cried.

Mommykins snuggled with him and sang patiently as she rocked him.

But the hard lesson stood him in good stead. Never again did Billy go into a classroom with only a vague knowledge of quantum physics. When he was seven, as he wrote computer programming for airport control towers online, he never guessed at a number. He made certain. Same thing with the genetic sequencing program. He never guessed, he made sure he knew exactly which protein lined up and double checked the other dropouts’ research correlations between function and position. He got along, the best he could.

But they would never let him back into Bonnyville Elementary. With his online earnings from the airport controls programs, he sponsored a soccer team and made them let him play. He felt like a bully, but he was just too lonely! They made him the goalie. But at team meetings, nobody snuggled. He got thinner and thinner and thinner. He was too worried and lonely to eat. And he ran a lot in the soccer league.

Then, for no reason at all, when he was eight and already the square-root-of-his-age tall, kids started to like him again. He was quick on the soccer field. He wasn’t much good for a snuggle, as thin as he was, but someone invited him to a birthday party. The cake was a chic frosting version of Sponge Bob. He enjoyed himself and soon after, he went to another party.

At last, when he was about to turn nine, he invited all the kids from his soccer team to his birthday party. They played all the same inane games he’d learned at other birthday parties. He handed out Nerf dart guns for the kids to keep. They all seemed to be having a good time.  But he anticipated the birthday cake, kept hidden for a surprise, with some dread. Not E=MC squared again, he hoped!

He closed his eyes as his teammates sang “Happy Birthday toooooo YOOOOOOU!”

The cake was frosted with bright blue icing. AHHH, there it was. He breathed a sigh of relief:  λ = 3.0 x 10^8 / 6.67 x 10^14 λ = 450 x 10^-9 m or 450 nm. Nothing stupid this time. Just the exact frequency for blue light when the wavelength is 450nm. He’d given up on snuggles. But now, perhaps, Billy could fit in.
 
PS to my readers. The advertising that appears on my website is matched to the content of my blog automatically. It sometimes makes me laugh to see what the cyber-god matches up. I benefit when people click through the advertising links on my blog, so feel free. The more often you visit my blog, the higher it posts in a search, too, so I like lots of hits! 

  

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