How I met your mother

by James

And there it was, dead at sixty-three: husband to Marie, father to Sue and Paul, grandfather of six, peacefully surrounded by his loved ones.

Goodbye Norman.

Candy harrumphed, and again for good measure. She wasn’t going to the funeral.

‘Honestly! That man. These days he would’ve been locked up!’

John bore this tirade with his usual weary smile, waiting for her to soften, put a hand on his shoulder and once more the two of them back in time nearly forty years. The year was nineteen eighty-two, a time of big hair and even bigger phones.

They met on the subway, John with his hand stretched out as he stepped past the still twitching prone form of his best friend. Candy’s blazing eyes softening at his easy smile, and it broke all the tension when she reached to shake his hand and nearly zapped him with the cattle prod too.

Oh, Norman.

In another time he would have been a gunslinger, or a knife fighter. So blazing fast this guy, you wouldn’t credit it, not with such a goofy looking big boned oaf kind of a fellow. He could flick out his hand, palm a buttock, and then, no matter how fast she might turn, stand there the picture of perfect innocence.

It was nineteen eighty-two and that fateful day he was on his second favourite subway pastime: the lascivious eating of a chocolate éclair. He liked to stand close and make eye contact and then out with the tongue, flick it lovingly across the chocolate topping then down to make love to the nub of cream at the end. Think that awkward moment when the boa constrictor happens to lock eyes with the terrified goat mid journey to the next life. You can’t look away. All you can do is stare in horror at what’s taking place.

Enter: Candy.

She was not in a good mood. It had been rather a trying journey, two sleeper trains, a seven-hour layover, and now the subway. Her father had lectured her at considerable length about the men who would try and get fresh with her. For her protection he had provided an electric prod designed for use with small breed cattle. This thing was the size of a portable telephone but she dutifully placed it in her purse, humouring her dad as he advised that if any fellas should get fresh, give it to them, right in the junk.

Candy well up for that; God, the cloying nature of their small town, but in all those hundreds of miles, nope, not a hint of freshness.

Too much time riding the subway with Norman, that’s why John copped a feel. No excuse of course, led astray he was, but it was John who blinked to find his right-hand palm full of female flesh already gone taut in horror, fingertips nestled snuggly in the gusset valley.

Candy was fast but John was faster. She whirled around, face snarling.

Oh, Norman.

Why choose that moment to break from the éclair?

Oh, cream in the éclair.

Why choose that moment to shed the blob that caused Norman to reach out his tongue in such a sensuous sweep of whipped cream preservation?

Goodbye, Norman.

True blue buddy, even if you didn’t know it.