Pinned

Jim Olivo left a note behind for me
many summer camps ago–pinned
to a pine–that reads:

“If you want the recipe for that turkey sandwich from mess hall, you’ll have to pry it from the clutches of none other than Neander The Articulate. Born with almost-exclusively neanderthal blood, his scrawniness prevented him from competing with his peers on a physical level, leaving him alone with his thoughts on a regular basis. Over the years, this ostracized fella developed a peculiarly sharp wit, mainly due to his constant observation of the individuals he would have considered his peers (if they would ever let him). Little by little he started sneaking tiny esoteric quips in edgewise–mainly in passing–that befuddled the muscly alphas and intrigued the blossoming females.”

It goes on like that
for a couple more pages.
I think Jim was working out
some kind of material on me,
because I couldn’t ever find
a turkey sandwich recipe
or a local neanderthal
for the life of me.
Maybe he was talking about
the camp across the lake.

DFM

Enter our eternal and infernal friend,
Deflatermouse–
careful about the point he makes when scrimmying across the kitchen floor in a fairly affluent suburban subdivision that would otherwise say it’s been treated well by the rodents and mongrels of the world. Only DFM (as the folks in the know have referred to him) gets a pass–you know, for sheer name novelty that has nothing to do with his aptitude for deflating himself (or others) and everything to do with occupying the (then) hovel of Fretful Fred, a beleaguered baritone at the peak of malaise and circumspection.

“Well hello there, little fella.” DFM pauses, startled to be addressed in such a cordial way.

“You’re the first visitor I’ve had in quite some time!” DFM appears to be intently listening to Fred, if only to take in the sonorous quality of his voice.

“Take a load off, friend! I don’t have much of anything to offer, but I’m sure you’re fairly adept at fending for yourself at this point.” DFM then immediately proceeds to scrimmy away, marking the exact moment in which his fabled moniker first graced Fred’s consciousness.

Fretful Fred considers himself a bit of a wordsmith, in addition to his accomplishments of the stage and screen. It took about two to three seconds to formulate the nickname, during which time there were numerous cognitive connections taking place, not at all dissimilar to the series of adjustments that a world-class athlete must make while performing the repetitive tasks that put them in that spotlight in the first place.

Our tiny rodent companion lit the fuse that led to a lightning-quick series of self-deprecating blasts. Every moment neglecting my life’s passions seems to just fuel the bonfire of self-hindrance, perpetuating a “woe is me” mentality that only spirals as the moments compile. My pesky new pal graced me with his presence at the intersection of doubt and fear, giving me the semblance of camaraderie, no matter how fleeting. But, just as all moments ever experienced by we, the mortal folk charged with hoisting the weight of the cosmos (whether or not weight is an accurate measurement), our fledgling friendship seems to have vanished as suddenly as it appeared.

“You’re a real Deflatermouse, you know that?” Freddy knew that an intellectual connection couldn’t be made, now or ever, but he continued to consciously deny the existence of a language barrier for the sake of infusing any wonder into his underwhelming existence.