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Ol' Possible
by Tony R. Lindsay

The truth is, sixty-something years ago, I was a precocious and exceptionally good-looking boy. My mother said her only child was the cutest kid she had ever laid eyes on. And smart, too. Her baby had blond curls, big brown eyes, and the most radiant smile in the neighborhood. According to Momma, no family had a child so lovely and clever as her little darling. 

One of Momma’s favorite stories involved me running up to her babbling about the activity of my little kitten. “Hurry Momma, come see what the cat’s got.”

“I’m busy. Can’t you just tell me?”

“The cat’s got your fat holder.”

Momma followed me to the back porch to find my kitten tussling with her lacy new bra.

“See? I told you.”

During my pre-school years, I continued to be brighter than any of my playmates. Jokes that passed over the heads of my friends were not lost on me. Our aging neighbor, Mrs. Webb, told Momma that she almost fell while taking a bath. Momma urged the feeble senior to be careful and inquired as to how she went about taking a bath.

“I simply wash up as far as possible, and then I wash down as far as possible. Then, I wash possible.”

Momma and Mrs. Webb guffawed. I sniggered too. Mrs. Webb said, “Don’t worry, Ethel. That boy is too young to understand what we’re laughing about.”

I spouted, “It’s good to know that after all these years, Ol’ Possible still gets a good soaping now and again.”


“Yes, Momma?”

“Shut up.”

My first-grade teacher failed to notice my advanced mental abilities. In fact, she told anyone who would listen that I would never progress beyond elementary school. Arithmetic was my best subject. I was a whiz at adding single-digit numbers, but adding double-digit numbers befuddled me. When I could no longer add with the aid of my fingers, I resorted to guessing at the answers. The teacher was no help. She said something like, “When adding numbers above ten, you have to record your nominal number and transport your dual digit to the left.”

“Say what?”

Spelling was my real downfall. I tried to remember that when spelling “cat,” the “t” follows the “a” which is preceded by “c.”  I got a lot of low marks and would have been discouraged, but Momma would engulf me in a warm hug. “Don’t worry, son. You’re almost a genius and cute as a Beagle puppy.”

School was a drag, but I enjoyed wide-ranging discussions with Momma. She mentioned the effects of wind blowing across bent grass and holding kites aloft. Momma gazed into the distance. “I wonder where the wind comes from and where it goes.”

I stared at her earnestly. “Momma, even I don’t know that.”

Momma passed away many years ago, and I still miss her. When I struggle to balance the checkbook or consult with Spell Check after every paragraph, I know Momma would understand.

A person can get through life with a rudimentary aptitude for math and abysmal spelling skills. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.