The Grumpiest Grumbles Of All
I suppose the best way to start is to describe Obidyjah Grumbles to you. It is almost as if they had waited to see what sort of a person he would turn out to be before they named him. 'Grumbles" ...that was his last name and he sure did his best to live up to it! He griped, he complained and he grumbled about everything!
He complained about his food even though he cooked it himself, he complained about where he lived even though it was ideal for what he liked to do best, which was fishing. He complained about people, about prices, about the weather . . . well, you get the idea: Obidyjha Grumbles was a World Class grump, and an even bigger grumbler!
No one knows exactly how Obidyjha came to be so grumpy. One thing everyone can agree on, however, is that the grumpy gene came to Obidyjha honest and well travelled, across many generations of grumpy Grumbles. There was his father Thimbote Grumbles, and his father Farley Grumbles, and his father Eidelhad Grumbles, and his Aunt on his mother's side Ebelyne Grumbles, and grumpy Grumble children from near and far, spreading meanness and badness and grumpiness across the land. They shared their grumpiness with each other, if they were still speaking (which chances are they were not!), with neighbors, with the few sorry sots whom they could call friends, and with whomever else in the world they encountered.
Still, not everyone had it so bad. Obidyjha's mother, Jacquiline Grumbles, a kindly woman with a big smile and a big heart, had nothing but love for her son.
"What did you learn in school today, Obidyjha?" she would ask him, as he slumped into the kitchen after school with his head down and his book bag dragging on the ground.
"Oh, but surely you must have learned something."
"I didn't learn nothin'."
"Oh, I see," Jacquiline Grumbles said to her gloomy son, "you must have sat around a hole all day and stared into the pit. Is that what you did?"
And would Obidyjha give his mother a little smile for her to see? Would he laugh at his mother's little joke? Did he enjoy this sarcasm of hers to tease and tickle him into a good mood? No, he did not. "Nothin'" is all he would say, and “Nothin’” is all he would think, for many many years.
Miserable Days At Indian Pass
Obidyjah lived at the Indian Pass Apartments. He had an apartment on the ground floor, which suited him just fine even though he grumbled about it. The Indian Pass Apartments consist of rows and rows of apartments. Each row rises to a height of two stories and it resembles the way many motels are constructed. The apartments are small but very comfortable and clean—all except for one particular apartment owned by Obidyjah Grumbles. And all the buildings, all the rows of apartments, are colored a bright pink and trimmed in white.
Obidyjah liked his apartment for one reason and one reason only. As we said, he was a fisherman. He would spend the whole day fishing all by himself. Of course, as a fisherman he had lots of things to grumble about: the weather was rotten, his bait was no good, the fish he caught were not the silver streaked makrel he liked to catch, or they were miserable sting rays, or they were too small, or too large. And, worst of all, he couldn't catch as many silver streaked makrel as those lucky ones who could go out in the deeper waters in their fancy fishing boats. Obidyjah himself had no fishing boat because he was too stingy and too lazy. Boats shouldn’t cost more than a hundred dollars, he’d say, to anyone who cared to listen. And it’s too much hard work anyway, he would grumble, keeping the boats clean and seaworthy. But secretly, beneath all his grumbling, the real thing he was always belly-aching about was not having one. He hated not having a boat in the worst way, for he was never satisfied with conditions as they were and-oh how he longed to have a boat to do his fishing from!
He had selected the Indian Pass Apartments because when he was ready to go fishing all he had to do was to walk out his scuffed up front door, cross the street, walk about a hundred feet on the Public Beach Access, and there he was on the beach! No hassles, no membership cards to show, no bus rides to take, no gates, no barriers...it was all right there!
By now you know enough about Obidyjah to know that he would grumble about that, too! He wished it was a little closer to the long pier he liked to do his fishing from, since he had no boat, so he wouldn't have to walk so far.
A Most Uninvited Intrusion
The best thing he liked about the pier was the large wooden sign staked into the ground at the entranceway. And the best thing he liked about the large wooden sign was the prevalence of the word “No!”
NO CELL PHONES!
That last rule, “No Fun”—that wasn’t actually a rule. Some smart aleck had graffitied it on the bottom of the sign with black spray paint. Obidyjah was no fan of graffiti or the young kids who would paint graffiti--Delinquents! He’d call them when he was in a good mood. Young punks, he would grumble when he was in a bad mood, which he was most of the time—but Obidyjha liked this one particular piece of graffiti pretty well. That’s right, anyone looking to horse around on this pier, on my pier, anyone looking for lots of good fun—well, that sort of person had just better leave! Leave my pier alone, he thought!
He had reached this pier one day and was sitting way out on the very end to do his fishing but he wasn't having any luck. Not a fish had he caught! He didn't know it at the time, but this day was to be unlike any other day in his life. It was to be the turning point--although he resisted this mightily. People would come by in their little fishing boats and wave to him and call out "Having any luck?”
We know, of course, that Obidyjah didn't like people and he didn't think these people were being friendly. He thought they were only trying to make him feel bad because they had a boat and he didn't. That's the kind of a man he was. That's the way he thought. So we aren't surprised, are we, when we learn that he would ignore them and pretend to be searching for something in his tackle box? He wasn't going to be bothered carrying on a conversation, not with people he didn't even know or like! Not him! Not Obidyjah!
But there was one persistent fisherman who would come by in his little aluminum boat and ask "Having any luck?" and would even circle around and come back until he was finally and grudgingly rewarded by seeing Obidyjah shake his head. He would do this most every morning and it irritated Obidyjah but if he had only been able to see the twinkle in Stan's eye...Stan was this man's name....he would have known that Stan was chuckling to himself as he asked him the question. Stan was a very observant man and he could tell that Obidyjah was a grumbler so he was trying to figure out a way to cure him of griping.
He shouldn't have concerned himself though, because, well, let me tell you what happened.
Obidyjah was sitting at the edge of the pier, as we said, way out at the end, having no luck. Not a fish had even nibbled at his bait....nothin’.
"And you won't catch any until you listen to what I have to say!"
Now Obidyjah had not heard a sound-not a footstep, not a creaking board. How in the world had that person got here without his hearing? Not that Obidyjah's hearing was all that good-but he was not so deaf that he couldn't have heard sounds like that. He turned his head this way and that way but not a single person could he see. This puzzled him. Nobody on this whole long pier but himself yet he heard the voice as clearly as could be. Then he began to think about it. "Must be that l’ve been out here in the sun too long,” he thought.
"Oh, no, Obidyjah! That's not it," came the laughing voice again.
"Hey, what is this?" he thought to himself. "Have we got a mind reader here, too?"
"In a way, yes! It is no great trick to read people’s minds.”
This upset Obidyjah more than ever! He looked around carefully. Nobody. He then looked at the water and saw the dark shadow of the pier he was sitting on. Odd colors were swirling around in the waters and then, startled, he looked around once more on the pier. Perhaps he was getting dizzy. He grasped the planks of the pier for security for those same colors were in the air now, turning and twisting and changing. They would eddy and spin and spiral and furl with no pattern, no path that his eye could follow.
"Here I am. Over here. Can't you see me know?"
Obidyjah had never felt this way before. His head was spinning and he felt so unsteady and wobbly.
“Take a deep breath and hold it a moment...you’ll be alright in a minute."
He was in no condition to argue so he did as the voice hid urged him. He took a deep breath and held it. After a bit, things cleared and he felt better. He turned his head in the direction of the voice and this time he could see someone. Never in his life had he seen anyone so lovely, so beautiful! It was very definitely a “Her”. Obidyjah thought she was the most glamorous, the most captivating and charming thing that had ever come his way. She perched herself easily on the railing while she adjusted the gown she was wearing and she smiled a great and beguiling smile at him.
She didn't really CLIMB onto the railing. She sort of floated down on to it, like a feather floating in the air. Her gossamer gown was so silken that it, too, seemed to float in the air about her. The colors were there...all the colors he had just seen in the water, the moving, spiraling, twisting colors that changed with every movement of her body.
“Dad gummit!” he fumed. That's what he said when he was really angry. “Well, what’s this stuff all about?” He was still convinced someone was playing a trick on him.
Yet, she was so lovely she took his breath away! All his fuming and distress at being spoken to, and now at being joined by a, a . . . well, what exactly was she, he wondered.