Sunday, June 04, 2006

This much was certain.
She had cooties,
and because of it,
no one would sit next to her.

Now if you asked them what cooties were,
that was sorta hard to define, but…
they weren’t stupid.
They knew that if
you had cooties it was bad
and by golly, Sherry
had allot of cooties.

Oh yea… and she was mentally retarded too.
I figure it’s fairly important
to let that be known.

I suppose that, for them,
cooties kind of came hand in hand with
mental retardation.
I’m not exactly sure
how they came by such logic,
but I think this
would be a good place to
define the word ‘stupid’.
It might just be instructive.

Was it stupid for me to not know that
mental retardation and cooties went together,
or adversely,
stupid for some
to make that connection
a little too easily?

Was Sherry a girl of special needs?
Well yes, of course.
And here we should define
“special needs”.

Other than Sherry,
there were the special needs of
everyone else on that bus.
They needed the other;
the outsider;
the lesser;
the substandard.

The most ultimate of that
which they were not.
And what with the presence of Sherry,
it was pretty easy to score high on the
bell curve of intellect.

And so… okay.
Maybe I can understand the
need for Sherry’s existence in this
ever expanding universe;
on this spinning Earth;
on this one particular traveling bus.
People want to be seen as smart
and how can you ascertain
level of intelligence
without some lower benchmark to base it on?

So if I put you on the spot…
If just now I asked you to
define mental retardation, could you
do that for me?

Substandard intelligence
relative to what?
Did Sherry possess that which was
substandard compared to say…
the family dog?
Was Sherry smarter than
the smartest dog that ever existed?
Well yes. That’s obvious.
And yet Sherry could not and would
never be able to do calculus;
never understand complex astrophysics;
never comprehend quantum mechanics.
But then… What the fuck?
Neither can I.
So Sherry and I have this in common, and
though both of us know how to tie shoelaces,
we will never master higher math, so...
I guess graded on the bell curve,
the both of us fall into
the lesser class of mental retardation.

Having said that,
I didn’t always have
Not yet anyway.

But of course there was that one day,
so many years ago,
when I climbed onto the bus,
made my way down the aisle,
and of all those empty seats,
took the one
next to Sherry.

And from the back of the bus
there came an imediate chant:
“Jack’s got cooties!
Jack’s got cooties!”

Yes. Perhaps I did, but
let’s just call it what it was.
An inoculation.

You see,
it could be that cooties
are very much like a virus
and once you’re exposed to them,
you’re inoculated from further infection.
A lifetime inoculation
not against being retarded, but rather,
against that which existed
at the back of the bus.

Something of which even I of
limited mental capacity,
could easily define not as that of
superior intelligence,
but rather that which fell
under the simple nomenclature of
“absolute idiots”.

©06 Jack Hubbell


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