Jasper

The lad considered himself fat, ugly and stupid. Jasper was five years old at he time.

He tried to play with the other boys in his neighborhood, but it was all for naught. More times than not, they made fun of him. A favorite game they liked to play was Spy … on Jasper. “They’re only spying, Jasp,” his mother said lovingly. “They are the ones being stupid, not you. Stop your crying, now.” It made him feel better in a way, but Jasper still felt alone.

As time went on, Jasper invented a friend called Tom. He was no bigger than anyone’s thumb. He had the greatest conversations with Tom. Tom listened to everything Jasper said and was sincerely entertained.

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As he grew up, he figured things out and was less sensitive about people and the way they treated him. He accepted the way people were. He blended in with different crowds, had different friends depending on his moods.

He went to a school that the neighborhood kids didn’t go to. He was totally accepted there with no one giving him a hard time of who or what he was. But, there were the teachers. Strict, always wanting to strike the fear of God into you by threatening you to smack the back of your hand with a one-inch steel ruler. He saw one teacher strike a student for “general purposes” so she said before hitting him. SMACK! Right in the shoulder blade. The next subject that came up was how Jesus loves us and always forgives our wrong-doing.

In Jasper’s fifth year at school, his mother noticed that he never smiled. “Jasp, is there anything wrong?”

“No, Mom,” he said sadly.

“Are you sure? Are the kids mean to you?”

“No. I get along fine with Barry and Blaze. Jim and Carl are good friends of mine.”

“Good, baby.” Mother pondered for a moment. “Do you mind if I call your teacher and have a chat with her?”

Jasper’s face blanched in fright. His eyes welled up and a lump formed in his throat.

“Whoa,” his mother thought. “How about I call the principal?” Jasper made no change in his attitude. “Never mind son. Just go out to play and forget about this.”

Jasper tore into his bedroom and held his pillow tightly to his chest and rocked.

Mother wasted no time getting on the phone.

“Sister Agnes, seeing how you are the principal of the school, I thought I’d ask you first. What is going on in your school that my son never seems to be enjoying himself? And when I ask him about it, he gives me quick answers sounding very nervous?”

Sister Agnes and Mother had quite the conversation about Jasper’s habits and attitude and nobody could find fault with him socially. Mother asked to talk to his teacher.

Sister Mary Bea was posed the same question.

“I don’t believe for a second that your son will ever graduate from high school much less eighth grade. He is by far the most stupid student I have ever had in any of my classes…”

The conversation went to hell in a handbasket from there.

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Jasper went back to the school he went to kindergarten in. And was ignored again like in kindergarten.

As Jasper grew, he made lots of friends. He did okay in sports trying to be the chick magnet he wanted to be. And sometimes he got lucky. Had dreams of being a CEO for a major corporation some day. As a matter of fact, he married a beauty queen from the town next door. But that ended in disaster. He saw it as a good thing after a couple years of looking at it from different points of view. Meeting new faces in his travels, he saw where he and his ex-wife had no business be together. Now he had the freedom he starved for during his marriage.

But. alas, Jasper is older now. Got grandbabies. Five of them, as a matter of fact. He works alone in his apartment still working on being that someone special he dreamed of being and knows that one day soon he will be the magnanimous person he dreamed of most his life.

He remembers Tom. But is too old for all that now. Now, he’s grateful for walls.

 

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