informal: a dull or socially inept person.
We all know him. He lived next door or just up the street. He didn’t grow up in the neighborhood. I don’t even know where he grew up, he just moved in. He was a big talker with a lot of bluster.
I still don’t know where he went to school, it must have been one of those backwards places. He always was talking about traveling all over the country and visiting all 57 or 60 states.
Whenever we had to “Jump Start” his car you always had to explain, “Red to positive, black to negative.”
Most of us were into football or baseball. He was tall and thin and liked basketball. Always talked about “Hoops.” Always showing off telling us who was going to win each game, the playoffs and the championship.
It was Easter, everyone was hanging around at the park. He was talking “Hoops.” One of the little guys tossed him a basketball, it was 14 shots before he put the first one in. Overall he got two out of 22. At one point he gave the ball to one of the little kids; in on the first layup.
In Ms. Jones history class he started talking about the bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor and nuclear annihilation. No one said anything but the nuclear bomb fell on Japan at the end of the war. Pearl Harbor was attacked and bombed but not with the nuclear bomb. Ms. Jones never corrected him in the classroom and I don’t know if she did it later. I think she felt sorry for him.
The Memorial Day Parade always ended at the American Legion Hall. The old soldiers who were in the parade, The Flag at half-staff. They had speeches the Honor Guard would fire their rifles, the bugler would play taps and the Flag was raised to the top of the flagpole.
He started telling us how great it was that we were honoring our fallen heroes and that so many of them were here at the ceremony. Somehow it did not connect that the guys that lived through the war were honoring the guys who didn’t.
He hung out with another strange guy, Joe. Joe also had a habit confusing facts. One day we were talking about the Great Depression. He started telling Ms. Jones about the stock market crash in 1929 and how FDR went on TV and talked to the people directly. Ms. Jones explained that Mr. Hoover was President and that television, as we know it did not exist until the 1940s.
Joe also had a problem with English. The teacher asked for a three letter word that began with “J”. He replied “Jobs”. She asked if he was sure and he replied,
“J – O – B – S”. They were a pair, Joe and Barry.
One of the guys about two years ahead of me joined the Navy after High School. He became a corpsman, that is a medic attached to the Marine Corps. He was home for a week, Barry kept saying he was a corpse man in the Marine corpse. I could never figure out where he learned English.
One summer I found a job for a couple of us, a few hours up north clearing land for a new state park. We were gone all summer and back in time for school. When we got back I heard Barry was bullying and manhandling some smaller foreign kids in the neighborhood. The one kid was named Omar or something like that. Word was that it was getting out of hand when the headman of the rough gang from east side of town stepped in. It was a stare down. No battle, no fight, a few overt words and everyone went home. No one hassled the little foreign kids after that.
In speech class we had to give a three-minute talk on a hero. I was torn between John Wayne and General George Patton. It was a hot day so the class was outside on the athletic field. It started to rain, not hard, just a drizzle. We sat under an overhang but the speaker was exposed in the rain. The class agreed to finish up in the drizzle. Someone else did John Wayne so I talked about General Patton. Barry was next. He was upset about the rain and demanded someone hold an umbrella for him while he spoke. One of the girls had an umbrella, it was white with purple pansies on it. Joe stood behind Barry and kept him dry. Only a Dork would have to have an umbrella.
I sat in the drizzle looking at Barry, his hero was some guy named Frank Marshall Davis. Never heard of him. My mind wandered, my imagination took over, it was depraved, blasphemy, looking at Barry and thinking of the immortal John Wayne, standing in the rain with Joe holding a dorkie umbrella with purple pansies over him.