Old Fert Crossing Event Boundaries
Among Homo sapiens, stress and anxiety rise and emotional stability and confidence fall as one crosses an ‘event boundary’ — a significant, potentially life-altering occasion, such as a job change, divorce, injury, etc. Well, here before us today is Old Fert, the clueless dude that occupies that avocado bungalow down near the end of the block (the one with the ratty and stunted cherry tree in the side yard?). Seems that day by day, year upon year, Old Fert has done nothing so much as cross one trying event boundary after another.
Old Fert first gained residence upon this orb on March 16, 1948, during the worst flood ever seen in Brampton, Ontario, as his mother gave birth atop a makeshift gurney in a peanut warehouse on the outskirts of town, under the glow of kerosene lamps.
May 25th, 1950: Just 26 months old, wee Fert — with loaded diaper — squalls for hours as the entire family of nine is confined to their claustrophobic Ford ‘woodie’ station wagon in the gridlock of the grand opening of New York’s Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. (Fert’s family had a knack for poor timing, particularly that of vacations.)
As a skinny six-year-old, Fert is excited, one might say ecstatic. He has been chosen as one of only 32 children to be on hand on the main floor of Dingle’s Jingle Town & Toy Emporium for the debut of the Scrabble board game on January 19, 1955. Unfortunately, in the mad scramble of tiny hands and legs flailing to acquire their souvenir sample of the game, a tower of unopened crates collapses on poor Fert, sending him to the ER for prompt medical attention.
It was December 2, 1956. Six years have passed since the tunnel-station wagon-diaper incident. The family warily decides to take only their second trip to the New York City area, hoping to see the city alight with Christmas decorations and a dusting of snow. They attend Brooklyn’s Paramount Theater that evening, just in time for Fert and his younger brother Bert to be injured (thankfully, not severely) by the explosion of a pipe bomb planted by Gotham’s Mad Bomber, George Meteskey.
And so it continues for hapless Fert.
January, 1958: while watching a young Bobby Fischer win the U. S. Chess Championship, Fert almost chokes on a checker.
March, 1963: 15-year-old Fert buys a copy of Tales of Suspense #39 featuring the debut of Marvel Comics’ Iron Man. His older sister Gert promptly swaps it, along with the rest of Fert’s comic collection, for a newly pressed vinyl of The Beatles’ Please Please Me.
April, 1969: The 21-year-old student is arrested along with members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) occupying Harvard University’s Administration Building, though in fact, he is simply delivering three large pepperoni and black olive pizzas, extra cheese, ordered by some of the instigators. His cool red bicycle with the Jimi Hendrix sticker on the front fender is never recovered.
May, 1979: A decade later, journeyman electrician Fert is called to the Florida State Prison in Starke, FL, to correct some troublesome short circuiting. The following day, his work contributes to the (relatively) seamless execution of convicted killer John Spenkelink.
Yup. Seems Old Fert has been destined to experience just about every trauma one can endure: lost puppy, dead goldfish, lunch money relinquished to Biff Belden repeatedly, chipped incisors, 17 days of consecutive third-grade detention, another dead goldfish, constipation, allowance sacrificed to replace neighbor’s window, Thanksgiving food poisoning, baseball card collection tossed as ‘junk’ by mother, broken collarbone, yet another dead goldfish, stood up for Junior Prom, drafted, Dear John letters (2), wallet stolen in Ensenada, backtalking children, passed over for promotion, diabetes diagnosis, swindled in charity scam, luggage lost on way to Buffalo, chronic psoriasis, divorce, failing eyesight, blown head gasket, and so it goes.
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