Friday, April 2, 2010
Some people are born successful. They’ve got everything. Some people are born with a frog’s chance in snowball hell. My friend was born without a head. Unkind people would give him hats for his birthday. Or ties. Or sunglasses. But he was pretty philosophical about it.
When we were kids, he used to get teased a lot. They would say, “So what are you going to be when you grow up? The head of a big corporation.?” And then they would all laugh. My friend just ignored them.
When he got older, he started saving his money for a wooden head. He finally ordered one from the Philippines, but it never looked quite right. Actually it looked a lot like one of those monkey heads they carve out of coconuts. And the straps chafed his armpits. I think he was pretty disappointed, seeing how he had saved for years for that head. But it was better than nothing.
I always tried to be a good friend to him and went out of my way to avoid certain phrases, like “heads up,” “well, I guess I’ll be headin’ home” and “put a head on this.” It wasn’t much, I know, it was the least I could do. I think he appreciated it.
Naturally Halloween was his favorite time of the year. He would put a big coat on and carry his Filipino monkey head under his arm and everyone would say, “Great costume.” Of course the next day he would just be that guy without a head again.
But my friend was determined not to let his handicap keep him from living a normal life. He got a job at an elegant French restaurant as head waiter, but people just couldn’t get used to him putting the tray on top of his shoulders, even though it was every efficient and made perfectly good sense. Next he tried opening a headshop, but he freaked all of his customers out and sent most of them into recovery. It was at this time I lost track of him.
Several years later I got an unexpected package with a Jamaican postmark. Inside was a letter and something wrapped in newspaper. I opened the letter. Seems my friend had finally succeeded at being normal and was living the good life as headmaster of an exclusive school for the blind in Ocho Rios. He was married and had two lovely children, both born with heads, something he was quite pleased about. He sent me a picture of himself and the family and I was was happy to see that his wife was not only very pretty, but also had a head. He said she loved him for his mind and the fact that he had no head to keep it in didn’t bother her one little bit. She was considerate as well and never used the excuse, “Not tonight, I have a headache.” In deference to his condition but amazingly, to his great delight, she always acknowledged him as “the head of the household.” Women like that are hard to find. You bet.
I guess it just goes to show that anyone can fit it, even if they have to go all the way to Jamaica to do it. I miss my friend and plan to go for a visit during the Spring break. I think about him all the time now. Oh yeah, that thing wrapped in newspaper was the wooden Filipino monkey head thing. I’ve got it on my mantelpiece, so it’s kind of hard not to think about him all the time. He had a note attached to it: “Won’t be needing this anymore. You keep it. Or give to some needy headless person. Or use is as a doorstop. I don’t care. Thank for avoiding the “H” word all those years.
Your friend, Hedly.
--as told to Irene’s Mustache by Kona Lowell
Posted by theo at 1:36 PM