Back to being 12 again
BOBBY Osgood woke up one October morning and he was twelve years old again. ‘This is crazy,’ he thought, upon finding himself back in his kid-size bed, in the little white house where he’d grown up. ‘I’m 32. I live in New York. I work in a bank.’
He didn’t have much time to ponder this absurd situation. His mother yelled from the kitchen downstairs that breakfast was ready and if he didn’t shake a leg he was going to be late for school and he had a big maths test today, remember?
‘Ah, so that’s it’, Bobby thought, and closed his eyes once more. ‘This is one of those anxiety nightmares, caused by stress, which I am often under, at my job. In this bad dream, I’ll be back at my old school. I will have to take a test, and of course I won’t know any of the answers. Also, I will have forgotten to wear pants.’
‘But then I’ll wake up and it will all have been merely a dream.’ He pulled the Cowboys n’ Indians blanket over his head and waited for reality to resume control of the airwaves.
The half-naked test nightmare had never included Bobby’s mother Doris coming upstairs and pulling off the covers, falling on the bed and holding him down and tickling him all over until he was totally wideawake and laughing like a clown.
‘Mom!’ Bobby looked at her. She was smiling bright, giggling like a girl. She looked young again, and so pretty. ‘I never noticed how pretty Mom was,’ Bobby thought. So he did something he hadn’t done too terribly often when he really was a kid. He put his arms around his mother’s neck, planted a kiss on her cheek, and told her she was beautiful.
She hugged him back as though she never wanted to let go. Bobby sort of never wanted her to, either.
‘What’s gotten into you today, mister? You aren’t trying to sweetstuff your way out of going to school, are you? ‘Cause it ain’t going to work.’
‘No, Mom. It’s just...’
‘Get dressed, then. Put on your blue shirt. I ironed it for you. And speaking of irons, I’ve got waffles ready downstairs.’
Was she going to watch him get dressed? Bobby remembered she used to do that, sometimes. How embarrassing. ‘Uh...Mom, do you mind?’
‘All right, Mr. Grown-up. Better hurry, though.’
He went downstairs for the best waffles in the world. Bobby’s mother Doris told him to eat a banana, too. Brain-fuel for the maths test. So Bobby ate waffles and sliced banana with butter and maple syrup.
‘Thanks Mama, that was delicious. You were...I mean, you are the best cook ever. And so gorgeous, on top of it.’ He couldn’t help repeating that she was beautiful again, because it was true, she was.
‘Flattery won’t get you out of no exam, buster. But it’s sweet of you to say so. You sure you’re feeling OK?’
Bobby Osgood said I love you Mom and kissed her again before he went outside to wait for the school bus. He hadn’t kissed his mother much back when he was a kid, he remembered. Not nearly enough, anyway. Mama Doris shot him a puzzled look, blew him a kiss and waved when he boarded the bus. Bobby felt like crying as he watched her go back in the house.
Of course, he couldn’t start boo-hoo-hooing on the bus. Not in front of everybody. There was Mrs. Thompson, the bus driver.
‘Good morning, Mrs. Thompson. Thanks for picking me up.’
Mrs. Thompson shot him a funny look. It occurred to Bobby that he’d never thanked her for bringing him to school all those years, even though she was a safe driver, always on time, and not unfriendly. Isn’t that why people say thank you?
Mrs. Thompson smiled. ‘Hey, thank you, Bobby. You’re a good kid. Now go sit down!’