Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Legend of Wayworm

Some of you have wondered why I named my Blog Wayworm. So, read on. The story is true...well...mostly. Give or take a little dialogue. My head isn't really half empty. Just doesn't work right on one side. I fell down a flight of stairs when I was two. Maybe that did it. Or not. I was correct about the importance of math and softball in my life. Okay, that's all the background you need to know. Ta.

The Legend of Wayworm

Once upon a time, long ago, in the green and hilly state of Pennsylvania-- which lies north of the great Mason Dixon Divide-- there lived a little blonde girl who always wanted her name to be Ann with an 'e' but who was stuck with the simple moniker of Nancy. Now, this golden child loved three things: to walk in the dark forest that began just the other side of her bedroom window past the old wild apple tree that great Aunt Bertha claimed was planted by Johnny Appleseed, dogs of all size and varieties, and reading books about princesses and fairies and evil witches and epic deeds done by great heroes in the distant past.

She had learned to read at an early age, having been taught by her learned grandfather, Master Arthur of Mt Lebanon, the burgh just the other side of Nancy's town of Upper St Clair. There was no Lower St Clair. Nancy supposed that maybe since everything in their neck of the woods either slanted upwards or downwards that perhaps Lower St Clair (if it ever existed at all) had slipped down a particularly steep hill into one of the three nearby rivers: the Ohio, the Alllegheny, or the impossible to spell Youghiogheny. She decided that it most likely lay at the muddy bottom of the Youghioheny or perhaps had washed all the way downriver into the mighty Mississippi, where it became the refuge of river pirates and the fierce Indians whose discarded flinty arrow heads she often found in the woods near her little white house.

As you have no doubt surmised by now, Nancy, who would much rather have been named Ann with an 'e', was a very imaginative child. Although she lived happily with her solidly middle class parents, Mr and Mrs William Wayman, in the little white house besides the woods, she imagined herself to be a princess in hiding whose real parents (the King and Queen of something or other) would one day send for her when it was time to grow up and rule all of Pennsylvania and maybe England which was somewhere to the east beyond a great ocean. This never happened. Nancy decided it was okay when she learned two important things about princesses: they often lose their heads in senseless wars and political upheavals and they have to work entirely too hard at ruling countries and making laws. For a golden child, roaming the woods with a dog at her side and reading books about princesses was much to be preferred.

Now, while Nancy loved to read books, walk in the woods, and play with dogs, there were two things she truly hated: spiders and going to school. We shall not talk about spiders here. School was awful enough for the poor Wayman child. She could not make sense of arithmetic no matter how hard she tried for while she was in some ways gifted, she was born with no left brain at all. Fortunately, this did not show under all of her shining hair.

She got into trouble on a regular basis with her teachers for raising her hand and saying,” I don't understand. Why is such and such that way?” The teachers frequently locked Nancy in the supply room closet when they couldn't bear any more questions and interruptions. She did not mind this since there were no spiders in the closet and it released her from math class.

Furthermore, as far as Nancy was concerned, there were entirely too many rules in school. Rules that didn't make sense --any more than the boring old fact that six times twelve is...uh...about seventy two. In any case, princesses do not like rules any more than Tiggers like haycorns! Everyone knows that princesses and heroes make up their own rules as they go along just like Dorothy did on her way to the Emerald City and Robin Hood did when robbing the rich and helping the poor.

Physical education was another nightmare for Nancy. Despite the fact that she was a marvelous skier, could run like the wind itself, swim like a dolphin, and was acknowledged the best tree climber in all of Upper St Clair, she could not climb a bull rope, bowl a ball, hit a home run, or shoot a basket—all of which were important if a girl didn't want an 'Incomplete' in PE.

Early in her school career, Nancy decided that the only good things about school were the vacations from it and the library full of books. Is it any wonder then, that to escape the mysteries of math and jeers of jocks, she retreated as often as possible into the magical worlds and fabled lands found inside of the covers of dusty books? In fact, it would not be inappropriate to call Nancy a book worm, since she burrowed into a book at every opportunity.

Nancy's best friend during these long ago days of childhood was a lively lass named Betty B. This girl lived in a house that might have been found inside of one of Nancy's favorite books: it was two centuries old and nestled into the woods along an ancient roadway. The walls were of stone and as thick as a grown man's arm was long. There was an old barn and a stone spring house behind the main house with holes in the wall where pioneers with Pennsylvania long rifles shot at the Indians whose long discarded arrowheads were still found in the woods.

One June day, soon after another hated school year was over, the girls had just finished frightening the chickens in Betty's father's barn and playing with the new tri-colored Collie puppies.

“Let's go in the spring house to cool off,” suggested Betty. Once inside, after pulling the string to turn on the lone electric light bulb, Betty turned to her friend. “Did you get your report card yet?” she asked.

“Nope,” answered Nancy, settling herself on the cool stone floor next to where the spring ran through the building. “I'm not in any hurry either. I know I got an incomplete in PE again.”

“Do you think you passed math this time?”

“Dunno,” answered Nancy. “I think I got a D on the final.”

“Well, maybe if you did your own homework instead of getting one of the boys to do it for you it might help you learn the stuff.”

“I doubt it,” Nancy snorted, running her hand through the icy spring water. “I do try, but it doesn't make sense. Tutoring doesn't help, either. The tutors get mad when I ask too many questions just like the teachers do” She shrugged. “It's like the stuff I can't do in PE. Doesn't matter how long I work at it, it just doesn't go right. So why try?”

“You need to learn those things.”


“Well...because you have to, that's why. You never know when knowing math and hitting balls will come in handy.”

Nancy frowned. "I happen to know for a fact that math and softball will never be anything I need.”

“Well,” said Betty. “It makes sense to me.”

“That may be 'cause you have a left brain and I don't,” replied Nancy.

“What do you mean? Everybody has a left brain.”

“I don't,” said Nancy, lifting up her hair on the left side of her head. “I'm different."

“You're joking,” Betty said. “Everybody has a left brain.”

Nancy laughed. That's what you think. C'mon here, look in my ear.”

Frowning, Betty crossed the room and leaned down to peer into her friend's ear. “Oh my!” she exclaimed, jumping back. “There's nothing in there at all. There really isn't. Not on the left anyway. I didn't know that was possible.”

Nancy smiled. “The impossible is always possible. I read it someplace.”

Betty took a deep breath. “Let me see in your right ear.”

Obligingly, Nancy lifted her golden hair away from the right ear as her friend peered inside.“Whew, that's a relief,” Betty said. “The right side is absolutely crammed full of brains.”

Nancy nodded. “Right brained people are the poets and the writers n stuff. It's probably why I like to read so much. Since I can't be a princess, I'm going to be a writer. ”

"I thought you were going to be a famous movie star and win an Oscar."

"That was last year."

"Oh, said Betty. “Well, you really are a bookworm. Nobody I know reads as much as you do. And you remember what you read, too.”

Nancy laughed. “Its a good thing, since I don't like to study. I'm not a busy little industrious beetle like you when it comes to school.”

Betty laughed, too. “Its summer anyway. We won't have to worry 'bout school and grades until fall and that's forever away.”

“That's the attitude, my not so industrious little beetle,” chuckled Nancy, flicking droplets of cold spring water at her friend.

“Hey, quit that.”

“You know what,” said Nancy, “that's sorta a good a good nickname for you....Betty ...Beetle.”

“Okay, you...bookworm...uh...wayworm,” retorted Betty. “Let's ride bikes.”

And now you know. That's where Beetle and Wayworm got their names.

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