This is Chapter One of my latest writing. It is currently a work in progress. I hope you enjoy it!
Sometimes, Ben just liked to sit down and think about things. And wonder.
You know how a person might wonder, sometimes.
Like, What is life? and Why do ants live in little tiny holes in the ground? It can’t be very comfortable, coming home from work every day to the same old hole in the ground. No couch to lay down on, not even an easy chair to lean back in.
Must be hard to get a good night’s sleep too, lying on huge grains of sand, all scrunched up. It’d be like a human trying to sleep on a pile of big rocks.
He felt so sorry for the ants, he got up and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for them, and put it outside, near an ant hole. He even left it open-faced, so the ants wouldn’t have to burrow through a lot of bread, to get to the good stuff. Ben could be big-hearted, sometimes.
Yesterday, he wondered why he had never become a theoretical physicist. No one had ever asked him if he wanted to. It would be a simple question to answer, if someone had only asked. He could have answered either yes, or no.
Of course, if someone had asked “What would you like to be?” It would be a lot harder, because ‘theoretical physicist’ is not the easiest thing to say.
Then, he figured that the toughest part of that job would be answering the question about what he does for a living, and he’d have to answer without getting his tongue all in a dither. Then, Ben realized that perhaps, he really was a theoretical physicist, though he had never been schooled in it. Was Leonardo Da Vinci schooled in all the stuff he knew? Of course not, Ben thought. Leonardo’s thoughts were created by wonderings far in advance of any teacher of the day. Ben then began wondering if perhaps, he really was a theoretical physicist. A self-taught one. A renaissance man, like Da Vinci. Perhaps he was. Because new questions would always enter his mind.
It seemed nearly impossible to just sit and relax, without another perplexing question arising.
Like, his wife Verna had asked, “Ben, how come you never learned to tango?”
He had been sitting there, contemplating the boundaries of the universe, and she had to ask a question like that!
“You are picking on me again, Verna.”
“I ain’t picking on you, I just asked a simple question.”
“You’re always pointing out things I can’t do. You never compliment me on stuff I’m good at.”
“It was just a simple question, Ben. You could just answer it, without making such a fuss.”
“It ain’t a simple question!”
“Well, how simple does a question have to be, before you’d call it simple?”
“You could have asked, ‘Ben, did you ever learn to dance the tango?’ that’d be simple.”
“Then, what would you say?”
“Hmmmph,” Verna said.
“But you always have to ask why, or some other complicated thing, and that leads to deeply philosophical contemplation, and stuff.”
“You never had a deeply philosophical thought in your life, and you know it, Ben.”
“How can you say such a thing?”
“Hmmph,” Ben said, “I don’t tell you all my serious thoughts.”
“And, why do I always have to keep telling you to take the garbage out?”
“See, you can’t ask a question that can be answered yes or no. You have to get all wound up in motivations, and all that stuff.”
“Ben, will you take the garbage out?”
“See,” said Verna, “a simple request like that and you refuse. That is why I search for motivations.”
“I’ll tell you my motivation, Verna. It’s because after I’ve taken the garbage out for all these years, you never once have complimented me on it.”
Verna looked amazed, and shook her head. “You mean, you expect me to say, hey Ben, you sure did a good job of taking the garbage out?”
“After I make your supper every night, and sometimes even bake you a cake?”
“That wasn’t MY cake, it was for the both of us, and your Mother ate most of it.”
“Now, don’t you start picking on my Mother again, Lord knows you can’t say a word without complaining.”
“I was sitting here, minding my own business, thinking philosophical stuff, before you interrupted.”
“That’d be the day!”
“Verna, have you ever heard of a theoretical physicist?”
“You ain’t gonna get me to say that again. Somebody’s at the door.”
“Well, answer it.”
“You answer it, you’re closer.”
“Sheesh,” Verna said, opening the door. “Well, hello, Mother!”
Mother walked into the room, and sat in an easy chair. She was wearing one shoe, and carrying the other. She shook the shoe at Verna, and said, “Just look at this damn mess!”
Verna looked. “What you got all over your shoe, Mama?”
“Some damn fool left a peanut butter and jelly sandwich right in the middle of your sidewalk, and I stepped in it!”
“I can’t imagine who might have done that,” said Verna, “let me clean it off for you.” Verna got some paper towel from the kitchen, and began wiping Mama’s shoe.
Ben just sat there in his chair, looking innocent. The way he did that is to look up at the ceiling, with his mouth hanging open just a little. If any unprejudiced person saw him that way, they’d probably think, “Now, there is an innocent man.”
“I see your no-good husband Ben is still sittin’ in the same damn spot, “she said.
It’s a good thing they didn’t know that Ben had fed the ants. Some things are better left secret. It was kind of like giving money to charity without expecting any credit for it. “Your name, sir?” asked the charity person. “Just say, it’s from a friend,” answered Ben.
“He’s contemplating learning the tango,” said Verna.
“Hmmph”, said Mother, “He’d have to stand up to do that.”
Ben turned toward Verna. “Tell your Mother I won the 100 yard dash one time, I was so fast.”
“Tell her yourself.”
“Whatever I tell her goes in one damn ear and out the other.”
“Tell your husband, if he had anything to say worth listening to, I’d listen, said Mama, pulling on her cleaned shoe.
“Hmmph,” said Ben.
“But you been married twelve years, and it ain’t happened yet, so I just gave up.”
“Tell her,” said Ben, “She probably won’t see me around here much longer, anyway.”
“Why not?” asked Verna.
“I’ve been seriously considering career choices, and…”
“Career choices? At your age?”
“Yes, I’ve just decided, and my first choice would require me to leave town.”
“Tell your husband he has a hard time even leaving his chair, without leaving town.”
“Tell your Mother I hope she never gets to see one of my movies.”
“Movies?” asked Verna.
Ben stood up. “I’ve had enough insults! I am on my way to Hollywood. Maybe I’ll send you a card, Verna.”
“And, what do you intend to do in Hollywood?” asked Verna.
“I have given it a lot of thought.”
“And I have discovered that Hollywood lost a great star when their chief sex-symbol died, in 1926.
“Who was that?”
“Tell your husband that Valentino was such a big deal that his first wife locked him out of their hotel room on their wedding night.”
“Did you hear that, Ben?” asked Verna.
“No, that is a disgusting rumor. Don’t try to talk me out of this, because I now know what I’d like to do with my life. Women fainted when Valentino came on the screen.
“Well, they’d faint for other reasons if Ben came on the screen,” said Mother.”
Ben walked to the door, and stood in the open doorway. ” That does it! I’ve decided to go to Hollywood, and become a sex-symbol.”
“Well, don’t forget your toothbrush,” said Verna.
“Yeah,” added Mother, “anything a woman hates, it’s a sex symbol with bad breath.”