The Cool Thing To Do

So, I’ve been reading a book of short stories by B.J. Novak. It’s called One More Thing. I’d never heard of the guy before I picked up his book in one of the free library boxes in my neighborhood. Turns out, he wrote, directed and produced The Office, which I’ve never actually watched. I’ve been enjoying his stories, though. Well, most of them anyway. A few have had me scratching my head thinking, “Huh?” My favorites have made me laugh out loud. Julie and the Warlord, was funny. It was a different story that really got me thinking.

This one is about the mathematician who came up with a story problem about trains that was then used in every math book in every math class all over the country. Math is not my favorite subject, by any means, but the idea of the story is that most everyone is known for something in their lifetime. According to the author, it really is only one, or maybe two things in our life. For some reason this made me think of a girl I went to grade school with. Her name was Jackie Crapser. She was an ordinary looking girl with blonde hair. We weren’t close friends and if it wasn’t for the ‘one thing’ she did, I doubt I’d remember her at all. (Though such an unfortunate last name is hard for a child to forget.)

This was back in the days when the kids who were differently abled or mentally challenged, were all thrown into a class and labeled simply as, retarded. On the playground, these children either went off alone or stuck together. They had to, as they were either targeted for teasing and tormenting or else, simply ignored. One day, by the tetherball, Jackie changed everything. She started a game of tag with the kids from the special class. It was a daring move, or so I believed at the time. Wasn’t she afraid the other kids would make fun or her? Obviously, she wasn’t. It didn’t take long for others to see that Jackie was having a good time. Pretty soon, other kids joined in. Our playground, for a time, became a place where inclusion, rather than exclusion, was the ‘cool’ thing to do. All because one little girl dared to be kind.

That’s how I remember it anyway.

If you’re still out there somewhere Jackie, I want you to know that at least one person remembers you for something positive. (I sincerely hope you are alive and well, and will be remembered for many other good things.)

As for me, I’m writing about a schoolyard bully who grew up to be a sociopath and is seeking revenge on his favorite victims— the ones who once dared to fight back. Now, I’d better get back to torturing my imaginary friends… um, I meant writing.