Friday, May 11, 2012

What is Rugby?

I guess they all can't be winners. This is one of the first stories I ever wrote. I was twenty, and I had no idea what rugby was. Back then, simply not knowing the definition of a word was enough to make me write a story.
"Boy!" shouted Henry's father, "to-day, you shall be a rugby player. You will be the finest rugby player the world has ever known, and you will play rugby with a concentration and skill that no one else has. You will learn to love and hate rugby, and you will play rugby viciously. You will be a rugby God!"

Henry listened to this speech with, at first, surprise and delight, and then dull boredom. He stared blankly at his father's yammering mouth and wondered to himself, "What is Rugby, now?" After the long speech, he excused himself from the breakfast table and got ready for school. He slowly walked to the bathroom and snatched up his toothbrush. He put some toothpaste on the toothbrush and then rubbed his teeth with the toothbrush. He washed his face and hands and put on a lovely perfume. He did these things exactly three times each, because he had obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Henry went to the bedroom, opened his window, and jumped out, landing two stories below. He then walked to school. He did not like to use the front door, because his father said that the front door was for girls and sissies. He was neither. "I wonder if rugby is like dancing," he thought to himself.

Henry trudged to school and pulled his backpack on the ground, scraping it all up. His backpack was going to wear out soon if he kept this nonsense up. Maybe he should stop it, because he was going through something like three backpacks a year and how would his poor mother keep up with all of it? Meanwhile, something snapped and growled at the back of his mind, trying to tell him something. What was it? Oh. He remembered. Then he forgot again, and kept walking."Err... Rugby," his mind went on. "What is it? Rugby. Isn't that a horrid looking person? Er, no. That's ugly. Duckling?" He continued in the same manner for a while, and anyone who was trapped inside his mind would have screamed in anguish long before.

When he got to his school, he sat next to his best pal Edmund. "Edmund," he leaned over and asked, "what is rugby?"
"Quiet," snapped the teacher. "No talking during class."
"Rugby," explained Edmund, "is when one salmon likes another salmon, and they go off to the mating grounds."
"No," replied Henry, "I think that's spawning. Dad says he wants me to take up rugby."
"Does it have anything to do with tubas?" asked Edmund, a spark appearing in his eye. Edmund was wild for anything having to do with tubas.
"No," admitted Henry. "I don't think so."
"Please, Henry and Edmund, hush!" exclaimed the teacher.

Henry stopped at the bakery on the way home and bought a donut. He tried to ask the local bakery shop owner what rugby was, but he was too busy counting his money exactly three times before handing it over. He ate the donut rather quickly and had a tummy ache.

Finally, Henry got home. His dad was in the easy chair, passed out, a bottle of whiskey in one hand. "Dad, dad, wake up," said Henry. He shook his father. "Wake up, dad." "Whaadyya want," mumbled Henry's dad. "I toljda I DIDN'T FINISH THE REPORTS BOB, SO Y'CAN SHOVE IT."
"Aren't I supposed to play rugby, father?" asked Henry. "Aren't I supposed to be a rugby hero?"
At this, his father woke up, glaring angrily at his son. "Yes, you are! Where did you hear that?"
"From you!" yelped Henry.
"Oh, that's right," said his father.
"Well," asked Henry, "can I ask you what rugby is?"
"Son, I don't know," admitted his father. "Let's play cards!" And they did.

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