We're The Happiest of Families

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Just in time for Thanksgiving, fifteen-year-old Lloyd talks about his family, how much they mean to him, and how they spend their days together.

We're The Happiest of Families

 

I am Lloyd.

I've been Lloyd for as long as I can remember, and I believe I shall be Lloyd until the sun itself fades from the sky.

I don't live alone.

Do I wish I did?

I won't lie; sometimes the thought does cross my mind.

But I guess at the end of the day, I really do like to be around other brains.

The brains I'm talking about belong to my maw and father, two individuals who are as nice as they come if we spell nice as o-d-d and u-n-f-i-t.

Maw is like a grandma, with her old-fashioned, stuttering voice and square box head. Does she know about anything? I don't know. Her hair is done in whirls of curls, so blond it's almost white, and sometimes I get confused – is she old, or just cute?

She's fifty-two. Fifty years and two days. Or years. I ain't exactly sure.

Then of course, my dad. He's sweet. I guess. Sweet as in sweet n' sour. He's tall. Very tall. And broad-shouldered, with eyes like Matt Dillon. Or whatever that guy's name is.

My Dad looks very tough. Mean, sometimes. He yells at me sometimes. I haven't been able yet to figure out why. He's younger than my mother. By about ten or twelve years.

Then there's a brain who's so young, I don't know if it should be considered a full brain.

I guess it can. It belongs to my baby brother. His name's Gregory.

He's squeaky clean and very cuddly. His belly is like a pillow, his cheeks are like piles of cream, and on the rare chance I get to change his diaper, he spills urine all over my face like water.

I hate him when that happens. But then I kiss him because I'm such a good older brother.

I think Gregory is too old to be in diapers, incidentally. I think he's almost three. He walks and even talks a little. But he's still in diapers.

It's ridiculous and sad. But kind of cute, too. I don't think I'd find him nearly as adorable if he were in big boy pants.

*

What do we do together as a family?

Do families do things together?

Should they?

Togetherness is not a big deal in our family.

We're together when we're together, and when we're not, we're not. Isn't that the way it ought to be?

I don't know. I haven't figured out much for myself because I can't seize a thought long enough to really see what's in it.

Mondays through Fridays, I eat breakfast on the floor of my bedroom.

My father brings it in to me, or I catch it outside my window with a fish-hook.

One time, I fished a hamburger. I thought it was just good luck, but it belonged to some guy, a bald-headed guy who looks like a homeless person, but I think he's our neighbor.

If we have neighbors. He was really mad, too; he shook his fist up at me for a long time, screaming “Who stole my food? You did, ya thief!”

I thought it was very funny. Do I live in a cartoon? It's such a colorful street we live on.

Some days I'm lucky, and at the end of the morning I'm so full I want to vomit.

But on other days, I just eat garbage and get so sick I can't stand.

Sunday is the day my brother and I sit at the table for breakfast.

One of these Sundays, Mom fed us all pancakes and eggs. I had the feeling slugs and worms were crawling over mine.

Usually, I don't tell anyone when I get these feelings, because no one believes me. My mom just cradles her head in her hands, and gets that “poor boy” look in her eyes, and she says: “You're on drugs.”

And my dad just snorts and tells me I'm crazy. But that Sunday I had to voice my fears because I felt it so strongly. I told them there was something crawling in my food.

And they did exactly what I figured they would, rocking back and forth and saying I was high as a kite. Then my father loomed over me until I ate everything on my plate, and then my mother told me she'd have to cut me out of Sunday breakfast, too, if I couldn't behave myself.

I guess I kind of snapped at that moment. Not 'cos of what they said, but 'cos I was thinking of all those worms and slugs running around in my stomach.

I ran upstairs and I lay down and I tried to forget it. I couldn't, though, and I got very sick. I had a fever. They had to take me to the hospital and pump my stomach out. I didn't have slugs and worms, but I had a tinier version of them.

Their tiny cousins, I guess. The doctor called them bacteria.

*

What else happens during the week?

Oh yeah, I go to school.

Sometimes.

Only if I feel like it.

I'm big and gawky there. All the kids say I'm in the way. They hate me.

I don't know how I feel about them 'cos I don't care enough.

But I know they hate me because they kick me and write “LOSER” on my locker.

And then they took the time to explain that “loser” is an insult because I didn't know that before.

You see, I play a little sports for P.E. (physical education or penile erection, I've never been sure which), and before I fall asleep on the bench, I try to listen to what the coach says.

In basketball, we had a really fat dude with long hair and shades for a coach.

And he was always talking about being “good losers” and that “how you lose is even more important than how you win."

And while looking back on it, I'm sure he was being theoretical and rhetorical, at the time I thought he meant it all as clean-cut fact.

Speaking of basketball, on a basketball team, a boy like me seems more useful.

Instead of long legs and arms being grotesque, they're quite celebrated.

There are a lot of tall guys on our team. I'm still the tallest by a great deal.

By two feet to be exact. And I really don't want to discuss it any further.

In our regular education class, for the three Rs (recreation, racket, and rhetoric), we have three teachers, Mr. George, Mrs. Aimes, and Mr. Thanker.

Mr. Thanker is the math teacher. He's my least favorite 'cos he's like some strict teacher from a '50s movie.

A B-movie from the '50s.

He wants to get on our case and make us follow all these rules.

And there are too many rules. We can't live our lives like they're math problems.

There are more than ten fingers on my hands, for instance. I can count to twelve because I have six fingers on each hand. So couldn't I learn the decimal system that is based on twelve?

No, says Mr. Thanker, 'cos it's against the rules. Well, bend the rules, you idiot.

I say that all the time. I shouldn't; I should use some finesse and maybe he'd listen. But it's the little cretin in me; I can't fight him when he has his fists in my mouth.

Mr. Thanker even looks like some '50s teacher. Pearl necklace and red lipstick and the gray pencil skirt, and his hair in brown curls.

The school board has gotten on him time and time about this attire.

I can't see why. It's all right for a teacher. In fact, it's beneath complaining about, it's so perfect and boring.

*

The cafeteria is one great thing about school. Some schools have a terrible caf with terrible food, at least my dad says so, but at my school the food's great.

They let you have anything: breakfast foods, fast food, steaks and french fries and stews, cakes and sugary things, sundaes and chocolates.

I fill a whole bag and take it outside and eat it.

Early recess, I call it, and I get away with it most of the time.

After lunch, I don't generally come back. I run off and with a big mask on my head there's no way anyone knows it's me.

I don't take off the mask 'til I get to Main Street. Then it's fine. I go off to the park and sit on the edge of the big fountain, and look at my reflection waving and distorting. It makes me happy.

But sometimes I don't even go to school for lunch. I just act like I'm going, and then I go somewhere else.

I might go to the library and read old picture books, from the 1800s or early 1900s. Even advertisements were works of art back then. But it can get awfully boring.

So sometimes I go somewhere else, where I can jump around and be loud and do whatever I want.

I like to bang my head into things.

I once went to this convenience store – The Wollar General – and banged my head into everything. Pinwheels blew and windchimes rattled, all 'cos of me.

The guy at the counter – a short shaggy dude – asked me what my name was, and I told him.

I went into the store a week later, and “LLOYD IS A HEADBANGER” was written on a big white sign right on the counter for everyone to see.

Turned out that short shaggy dude was actually the manager. And they know me around there now.

*

Now, the weekends are a bit different.

On Saturday, we go out to eat. It's a great day, because if I play my cards right, I can get some money to buy the latest “Comics Kill Ya” magazine, and I sit there at the table, thumping my brother on the back so he can get his humps out, and flipping through page after page of whatever's in.

Just yesterday I was looking at one of the old mags I got last month, and I found they used the word “nefarious” seventy-six times, and the word “hilarity” twenty-two times. But there's more funny stuff than bad stuff happening, so I don't know why that is.

Sometimes on Saturdays, Dad takes us out bowling or ice-skating or even to the roller derby. He thinks it's good for us to see how much fun you can have without spending a fortune.

And we do have a lot of fun. At least I do. But like I said before, I don't know about my brother. Is he too little to know what's going on, or not? Who knows.

The roller derby is the best. I'd go there every day if I could. We roll around in a big circle, and there's lots of music, and we're all kicking and slamming into each other.

I'm real good at knocking into one guy so that all the other guys fall down like dominoes. And I'm real good at taking knocks and kicks. I don't fall down. And if I do get knocked down, I get right back into it. And the guy who knocked me down never lasts long.

Ice-skating and bowling I don't like as much, but we go ice-skating to please my mother. She wants us to be exposed to the “finer arts.”

We all sit down and watch old people skate. And a few kids, I guess, every once in a while. She tells us what they're doing, or at least what she thinks they're doing.

I sometimes stay awake, and sometimes I don't. If I do watch, it's 'cos I'm hoping one of those old people will make a wrong move and come crashing down on the ice.

And bowling we do mainly to please my father.

It's another one of those boring “sports” that's only fun when you imagine the pins as being mosquitoes or something.

But my father really digs it. He says bowling gives you good hand-eye coordination and intensifies your concentration.

I think that's exactly why I don't like it. I find it very hard to concentrate on anything. My head is like a never-ending ferris wheel of thoughts, spinning around so fast I can't catch hold of 'em.

Trying to focus on where to throw a big black ball is barely within my abilities.

But I don't complain, 'cos I think about the last time I played darts or golf, and tears spring into my eyes 'cos I'm so happy I ain't doing that.

*

Sundays, like I said, we actually eat at the table together, like families in picture books.

It's a very unusual day for lots of other reasons, too.

My mother is into Sunday being the day of rest, because that's the way her mother raised her.

Where that idea comes from, I'm not sure, but I think it's a very ancient concept.

Anyway, we – the kids - have to do nothing on Sunday. Mom just lays in her room with her hands together, praying, or reading a little leather book, the Bible, I think.

My brother gets into the spirit a little, spitting up less and wetting his diapers less and even drinking less milk.

And I don't know what to do, so I do exercises.

Push-ups and sit-ups and stuff. I pretend I'm a dog, and that someone's teaching me to roll over and speak and sit.

I think about the songs I heard on the radio last week, and the record sleeves I saw in the cornerstore. Some of them are really nice, they make you wonder what kind of music is on the record.

But half the time the music doesn't live up to the sleeve, that's what I've learned. You can get a really nice record that has a very average sleeve, and vice versa.

Sometimes I sit cross-legged, put my hand on my cheek, and make believe I'm a philosopher thinking great and profound thoughts.

But I can never remember what I thought about afterwards, because I just don't care enough, I guess.

Or maybe because I start counting stars. I love to look out the window and count the stars.

There are millions of stars in the Universe, and I can see a fraction – a very special fraction - of them from my window.

Isn't that fantastic?

*

I suppose that's all when it comes to my family and our excursions.

I've never really thought about it much before, but I guess we don't have that much going on. We're very un-unusual.

Everything we do is fairly average.

But we're an okay family, I guess.

But sometimes, I have to admit, I wonder what it'd be like if I belonged to another family.

Because you do belong to your family, at least until you get old enough to start your own. Or just leave. Whichever you decide. (I'm gonna do the latter.)

I sometimes imagine belonging to aliens.

Or little people, or elves.

I have a recurring dream that my parents are really, really tiny. But I look at them as if they're giants, because that's what they are in my mind.

I think I'd like to have the two little elves as my parents.

If it turned out it wasn't a dream – if it turned out that my dream was real, and everything else wasn't – I wouldn't be sad. 'Cos they'd be fun for me, I just know it.

And I'd be fun for them. They'd have a son so big he could carry them around on his back. Wouldn't that be fine?

But that's not the way it is, so I guess it's not worth talking about.

Still, we all have dreams. Right?


Submitted: November 18, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Easton Underdog. All rights reserved.

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