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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bluto, parts 3448 - 3451

 3448. But no, the entire burden fell on those who were destined to be good in math and science, and I pictured to my self the fame they would acquire in the future when they would manage to create bombs sufficient to kill everybody, and not just the Russians. 

 3449. Perhaps you suspect that what I am saying is imbued with a touch of sarcasm, and I am not being sincere. That is the problem with telling you about my childhood. It is impossible to even think of my childhood except in terms that appear to be sarcastic. 

 3450. Saturday came and I had to work for Bluto again, we were going to get a load of copper pipe from an old warehouse on Broad Street. Bluto explained that the owner of the warehouse wanted to replace the old copper pipe with the newer plastic pipe.

3451. I was not positive that Bluto was not doing something dishonest but I did not consider it to be my problem. I was just a kid and the helper, what did I know about copper pipe? Nothing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bluto, parts 3444 - 3447

 3444. I wish I had copies of my report cards from back then, because even just at a glance you would be able to ascertain the predicament I was in. My grades in math and science were never very good but over the past year, under the guidance of Mrs. Hagner, I had progressed from C, through the D’s to arrive at the F’s.

 3445. Although all my classmates were guilty of not excelling enough in math and science, I was particularly remiss. My report card declared, along with the mound of newspapers from my failed paper route, abandoned behind the barn, that I was bringing the country down.

 3446. It was not that I was failing everything. There were bright spots on my report card and I had been getting consistently, A+ in the subjects of Art and Music, which, for some reason, were listed separately from the other subjects.

3447. If only, I thought to myself, painting pictures and singing songs were the things that would save the country from destruction then I would be in a good position to do my share.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bluto, parts 3440 - 3443

 3440. I was well aware of the importance of math and science to Mrs. Hagner. She was convinced that the future of civilization rested on the shoulders of her students and their ability to master math and science. This was a fact that must have kept the poor woman awake many a night, because the Russians had launched a satellite, and so we in America were falling hopelessly behind.

 3441. For about five years previous to the launching of the satellite we had been told every day, especially after crawling out from under our desks after the air raids, that the Russians would never be able to catch up to us in math and science. The reason they were never going to catch up was because they had no freedom in Russia, and without freedom you can’t possible master math and science.

 3442. We children had an uneasy feeling about the lack of ability of the Russians, as we thought about them while lying on the floor under out desks during the air raids drills. Although they were hopelessly backward and living in the dark ages over there, they had, never the less, created the atomic bomb somehow.

3443. We had been shown movies of the terrible destruction the bomb caused, and how buildings had all their walls blown down for miles around and everything went up in a ball of flame. We pictured ourselves in mid air under our desks, as the school disappeared in a hurricane of glass, bricks, and flame. We hoped somehow we and our desks would survive but we couldn’t imagine how since we were on the third floor.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bluto, parts 3436 - 3439

 3436. I sat down and everyone filed out of the classroom. Out of the corner of my eye I could see all the kids fan out across the playground, some walking and some on bicycles. Finally they were all gone and yet still Mrs. Hagner said nothing to me, as if she had forgotten I was still in the room.

 3437. Finally she delivered this lecture, never looking at me directly. 

 3438. “Albert, I have thought long and hard about what to do about you. You have been a constant problem and have disrupted my class constantly from the first day. I am going to recommend that you repeat the 7th grade. Perhaps the second time around you will learn to behave yourself.”

3439. But I will give you this opportunity, if you score above 90 on the math and science exams I will recommend you go on to the 8th. I would like to see you spend a little time on your studies and so not have as much time to disrupt my class.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bluto, parts 3432 - 3435

 3432. All this time, as almost a minute went by with me helpless in her grasp, I imagine she was probably trying to decide what to do with me and unable to arrive at any plan, like a cat that walks around absentmindedly with a mouse in its jaws. Finally she began shaking me very violently back and forth, but then after a while she let go. 

 3433. Then she turned and walked away from me without saying anything, and the bell rang for us to go to homeroom.

 3434. But Mrs. Hagner had not finished with me and I could see all day that she was thinking about some appropriate way to punish me. I knew she was not going to try to find out about the telescope; she was an old teacher and she knew all of our tricks. If I took responsibility for her broken mirror, she knew it was because I would adamantly deny any knowledge of the telescope.

3435. When the last bell of the day rang out she allowed me to get almost through the door before she called me back and had me sit down. I knew she was not going to let me out that afternoon, but why she let me think I might possible escape was most likely just a spiteful trick she had perfected over the years.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bluto, parts 3428 - 3431

 3428. In order to be kind I have left out the blotched skin and the discolorations, random unexpected patches of hair and her tendency to spit over her dentures when she talked, squinting all the time, and looking off to the side.

 3429. First she put her bony hands on both my shoulders and turned me so that my back was to the hallway wall so that we were face to breasts. I was about eye lever with her caramel colored broach. Then, for several seconds nothing happened and she stood in front of me still holding me in place near the wall with her arms outstretched. 

 3430. Then she took a step forward and I staggered back a step, like the first steps of a tango where the man is completely inept. 

3431. I dropped the mirror, the glass of which shattered into fragments. She then took another step toward me and her shoes began to grind into the glass fragments. Finally she pushed me right up against the wall and my head hit the bricks.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bluto, parts 3424 - 3427

 3424. When I saw they were coming for me I stopped in the middle of the hall and sort of held out the mirror in my trembling hand and tried to look as much like a Cocker Spaniel as a person can look. But The Hagner was not having any of my forthrightness.

 3425. Before I tell you what she did, I would like to take a moment and tell you what Mrs. Hagner looked like, and with it put off for a moment telling you about the thrashing I would get.  But there is a difficulty in describing The Hagner. There are people who have one overwhelming characteristic, and that trait obliterates so much else that you can hardly notice the rest of the picture. A wart on the end of the nose is one such sort of trait. With Mrs. Hagner it was the lower part of her face.

 3426. The majority of her face was below her nose; actually below her lips. Directly under her lower lip was a huge quantity of wrinkled soft flesh that looked like a big flesh color balloon had almost entirely deflated. It was that flesh under her chin that made it impossible to notice her cat’s eye glasses with their fake diamonds, or her hair that looked like a varnished wasp’s nest. 

3427. It was easy to see that The Hagner was in a rage because her deflated balloon was trembling and quivering in a sickening way. Now you may think that it is just meanness on my part to draw such an ugly portrait of the woman, but you would be wrong, my picture is flattering, the reality is much worse, but I don’t have the skills to make it realistic for you.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bluto, parts 3420 - 3423

 3420. I expected to get all of the blame, and I had seen Mrs. Hagner and Mrs. Bowlbey watching us from the third floor windows so I knew I was caught anyway. They were going to want to know all about the telescope. I was prepared to take all the blame for the mirror, but about the telescope I was going to deny any knowledge.

 3421. Holding the mirror in my hand I headed for the entrance door, even though there was a few minutes left before the second bell. I was planning to go directly to Mrs. Hagner and show her the mirror, apologize, and offer to replace it. I imagined that she was going to be impressed with my honesty and forthrightness.

 3422. Honesty, forthrightness and stick-to-it-iveness; these were all the things she was always talking about that had made the country great and that we students were entirely lacking in. Holding the mirror in my hand, with my arm sort of stretched out as an offering, I felt that she would see that I was doing my part to stop the terrible corruption of the country that she was so profoundly upset about.

3423. But coming right at me down the hall were the twins, that is to say: Mrs. Hagner, and the Bowlbey right beside her and even from a distance it was easy to see they were in a terrific and implacable rage. This was not mirror breaking anger, this was pornography telescope anger.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bluto, parts 3416 - 3419

 3416. The telescope was about three inches long. When you held it up to your eye and pointed it toward the light you could see a man in a barbershop getting his hair cut. The barber was a woman and she was naked. The barber had long breasts that hung down over the man’s shoulders and stretched out over his chest. Everyone wanted their chance to have a look at it. 

 3417. When I got a hold of it I was unable to look through it because everyone was jumping all over me trying to get it away from me before the bell rang, which was any second. I ran away from them trying to get far enough away to get a second to hold it up to my eye. I ran around the back end of Mrs. Hagner’s old brown Hudson and up between her car and Mr. Roach’s Buick and I banged into the Hagner’s rear view mirror and it snapped off and fell on the ground at my feet.

 3418. Everyone froze, and then the bell rang. It was a disaster that could have many outcomes and all of them bad. About ten of us were involved and we could all be to blame because of the telescope, or just I could be to blame because of the mirror.

3419. I could pick up the mirror and take the blame, or kick it under the car and claim ignorance, but what I did was probably a misguided idea of half-hearted devious honesty.  I picked up the mirror, but at the same time I pushed the telescope into the cuff of my jeans where no teacher would ever dream of looking for it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bluto, parts 3412 - 3415

 3412. Meanwhile, at school things went from bad to worse. My plan to alienate Jason by expressing contempt for the cars he loved came to nothing, and I think the reason was that he simple didn’t believe me and assumed I was simply playing a part and acting like Bluto; making up arguments for no reason.

 3413. After all, what normal boy doesn’t love cars?  To not love cars was unthinkable, unless of course I was some sort of freak. In a way I had to agree with Jason about that. What kind of future was there in the modern world for a kid who did not want to drive a car?

 3414. When I ran into Jason on the playground the next morning before the bell ring he acted like nothing had happened. I had expected that morning would hold the solution to my biggest problem in the world but as luck would have it, it was the beginning of a series of unrelated catastrophes that began to strike that very morning without warning, the first of which happened even before the first bell rang.

3415. The start of these troubles was a miniature pink telescope Tom Doctorovitch brought to school that morning.  All the boys were over in the part of the parking lot behind the teacher’s cars where the bicycle rack is, and they were fighting over the telescope and trying to get a view through it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bluto, parts 3408 - 3411

3408. Car makers don’t want people to have accidents. He was putting it that way just to exaggerate the idea all out of proportion. But though it was just a distorted exaggeration, the truth remained with its unmistakable conclusions. 

 3409. Everywhere in New York State the speed limit is fifty miles an hour, and my father’s Pontiac Star Chief could easily go one hundred and twenty miles an hour.  Who ever made that car must read the paper and so must know the consequences of the product.

 3410. It might be an accident but Coke destroyed teeth, cigarettes killed people, these were bad things and it was a simple truth and completely obvious.  Only Bluto noticed it, and only he talked about it. If he had expressed his ideas to anyone other than an ignorant thirteen year old he would have been laughed at, or people would have thought he was crazy. 

3411. Bluto was correct, but the fact that he was passionate about it had nothing to do with the Coca-Cola company and teeth, and everything to do with baseball bats and smashing things up.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bluto, parts 3404 - 3407

 3404. When he said that I had the feeling that I was getting a look at the real Bluto, the one behind the character that was inventing arguments about everyday things just to be contrary. The question of what Bluto really thought bothered me a great deal and sometimes kept me awake at night thinking about it. 

 3405. I wondered if Bluto was just playing a role like a character in a movie. Just because someone loses their temper and yells, screams and bangs the steering wheel with their fist does not mean that they are really upset, and doesn’t even prove that they believe what they are saying. 

 3406. Bluto could have just been acting. But when actors act they do it for many reasons; for an audience, for money, or for fame but for Bluto there was nothing. Why would Bluto choose to act like a deranged political fanatic?  No, I thought, Bluto is not acting; under it all is something real.

3407. The next thing I wondered about was the logic of the arguments.  For example, he was insisting that the Coca Cola Company wanted to damage my teeth. But, obviously he realized that they did not want that to happen.  Cigarette makers don’t want people to get cancer, that is not the purpose of the product; it is an unfortunate side effect.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bluto, parts 3400 - 3403

 3400. Jimmy said, “Lets assume God had to make the dog, since dogs are so much more complicated that a wristwatches, but why don’t the dogs have, ‘Made in heaven by God,’ printed on them someplace. And if God did make the dog, why, after he spent so much time and energy building one, does he let it go out and get run over by a car. It makes no sense.”

 3401. That was my brother’s argument, and I turned it on Bluto’s squirrel argument, and he never expected a retort from a 13 year old. “Look Mr. Sacco,” I said, accidentally using the patronizing and condescend tone my brother always used with me when he wanted me to see how stupid I was.  “Look at that other squirrel over there.” I pointed to a dead one that had been run over by a car.

 3402. “If God took so much time to make the squirrel, and the poor squirrel’s eye is more complicated that a wristwatch, why is it that he doesn’t take care of the little thing, instead of letting it get mashed up in the street by a Buick.”

4303. At that moment, Bluto’s face suddenly became transfigured, and his voice had a tremor in it. He spoke in a way that I could see that he was not putting me on, but really deeply felt the truth of what he was going to say. “God loves the squirrels, every Goddamn one of them, but God hates cars to death, and God hates the Coca Cola Company as well," he said.