The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 2
Being Normal and Being Real
by Greg Wright
Bobby finished his homework early, and then he walked down the street towards Billy's house. Billy, who had no homework that afternoon, walked towards his own house from the opposite direction, but more slowly, since he was munching something brown and shiny.
"What's that?" Bobby asked, as he caught up to Billy.
"Homemade pretzel." Billy managed to mumble with his mouth full. "Here, I'll tear you off a piece."
"Wow, this is really good. Where did you get it?"
"Daniel's house, you know, the new kid. They moved in just below the Terlouws."
"Daniel's mom must be very nice." Bobby said, as he finished his last bite.
"Oh, she is," Billy replied, "but Daniel gave me the pretzel. In fact, he made it."
Bobby stopped walking, mid-stride, and groaned. "Billy, don't you think that's weird!"
"What!" Billy looked surprised.
"It's just not normal." Bobby continued. "Normal guys don't cook pretzels. Normal guys don't train poodles, labs perhaps, but not poodles. Normal guys don't play violins. Drums, guitars, maybe, but not violins. And, normal guys don't dress like cute kids out of Lands End magazine.
"He also won the spelling bee for his whole school in Atlanta." Billy interrupted.
"That does it!" Bobby exclaimed. "Maybe he's a nice guy, but he's just too weird!"
"Normal guys dress like other guys." Bobby continued. "Normal guys like to get dirty. They camp; they fish; they build fires. They race cars and bikes. They wrestle. They play football, hockey, soccer, baseball, and basketball."
"Daniel and I played basketball." Billy interrupted.
"He plays basketball?" Bobby asked, surprised.
"Yes, we played horse, and I won." Billy said with pride and satisfaction.
"No, Billy, horse isn't real basketball. Besides, no normal kid would let you beat him!" Bobby teased.
"Okay big guy," Billy grinned, "I think you need a basketball lesson."
'What, you want to play horse?"
"No Bobby, I want to play NORMAL. You seem to know all about what's normal, let's see if you can spell it. I'll race you to the basketball pole. Last one there is road kill." Billy called out, already ahead.
Bobby raced to the pole and made it just in time to call it a tie.
"You got a head start!" Bobby challenged.
"I'll make it up to you. You can have the first shot." Bobby's ball hit the rim but missed the basket. Billy did a rather awkward lay-up, but amazingly the ball went in. Bobby did a fancier lay-up, missed, and earned the letter N.
"I don't know about what is normal." Billy continued. "I do all the things you mentioned. But, I do them because I like them. I think Daniel does what he likes. You see, Daniel is real, he doesn't do things just to be cool, and he does not care a great deal what other guys think of him."
"What do you mean by real?" Bobby asked, as he retrieved the ball.
"Most boys," Billy responded, "when you first meet them and find out what they like to do, add brag points. They tell you how good they are and they talk a lot about themselves. Daniel told me what he liked to do, but without bragging. I never would have known that he made the pretzel, won a spelling bee, and beat out several other dog trainers in competition, if his mother had not told me."
"See Billy, normal kids brag. Everybody exaggerates a little." Bobby said, as his ball missed again, though barely.
"Just say no." Billy teased, as Bobby earned his second letter, making "NO".
"Just wait," Bobby responded, "you're lucky break won't last. Anyway, you say Daniel is real because he doesn't brag?"
"There's more." Billy continued. "He doesn't pretend to be what he isn't. He seems to be very content with who he is. We arm wrestled and I almost beat him. Most guys would have bragged. Instead of bragging, he complimented me on how strong I would be, two years from now, at his age."
Then, Billy missed his shot.
"Now your lucky streak is over." Bobby grinned, as he prepared a very difficult corner shot. It went in.
Billy groaned. He had never made this shot before. But he did.
Bobby's mouth dropped open in disbelief. On his next shot, Bobby completely missed both basket and backboard.
"That's it," Bobby yelled, "let's quit this! I don't want to play anymore."
"We can quit if you like." Billy responded sadly. "But you want to quit because you know I'm about to win."
Bobby's conscience kicked in. "I'm sorry, Billy. We can play. I wasn't being a very good sport."
"That's good," Billy said, "you're being real. You're willing to continue to play, because we're friends. Boys who are normal get mad and quit. Daniel is real, too. Normal guys press hard for what they want to do. I'm not sure basketball would have been Daniel's first choice, but he really seemed to care what I wanted to do."
"Oh, I guess you're right again," Bobby said, as he sat on the brick wall beside the driveway. "Being real is more important than being normal. I guess it's okay to be different, as long as we are real."
"But Billy," Bobby continued, "our school is a tough place. Daniel's not street wise. Reggie, Ronald, and Ross are ready to eat him alive. They harassed him during lunch today. I may have to stand up for him. If I do, I'm not sure that Eric and John will back me up. Reggie I can handle. But, I don't think I could handle all three of them."
"It sounds like you need vitamin P." Billy suggested.
"What? Oh, that. Yes, thatís a good idea."
"I'll go first." Billy offered. "Dear Jesus, please protect Daniel from the bullies. Please give him good friends and make him happy to be at my school. Oh, please make Daniel more streetwise. And also, please make Bobby really wise and really strong if he has to stand up to the bullies. I pray he won't be alone."
"Okay, your turn."
Bobby prayed. "Dear Jesus, Please help me to do what is right. And, please help me make smart choices. Amen."
"Now," Billy perked up. "about that game."
Bobby lost, the first time ever against Billy, earning the title "NORMAL", all six letters.
"See Bobby," Billy teased, "you're normal."
"That's okay." Bobby responded, as he gave Billy a playful shove. "Normal guys don't have best friends who pray with them. So, I'm not normal, but I'm blessed."