by Gail Farrelly
Once upon a time, there was a family of bunnies living in the San Joaquin Valley. Twelve-year-old Ferdi, the ‘baby’ of the family, loved computers. In fact, his two older brothers called him “Nerdy Ferdi.”
He didn’t mind; to him, it was a compliment. He wasn’t athletic the way one of his brothers was. And he wasn’t especially smart in school or handsome the way his other brother was. Ferdi never felt more alive than when he was sitting in front of a computer screen. If that qualified him as nerdy, so be it.
For some time, his parents had been pressuring Ferdi to do better in school. “Concentrate, take your time, finish one thing before you start another,” they advised him. Funny though, they didn’t seem to practice what they preached. How often had he seen his mother doing paperwork in front of the TV, watching a sitcom, and during commercials listening (via earphones) to music on the radio? And his father routinely chatted away on the phone as he made dinner and watched a portable TV in the kitchen. Ferdi talked about all this with a cool tutor at the learning center at school. His response was to quote James Baldwin: “Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
Ferdi noticed all sorts of things about modern life that encouraged him to do more than one thing at once. Take TV, for example. On some stations, there was a constant “crawl” (containing weather reports and news summaries) at the bottom of the screen. No matter that there was often a total disconnect between what was going on in the show and what was being summarized on the screen below it. The “crawl” at the bottom of the screen might be describing an oncoming storm or a horrendous shooting, but that didn’t interfere with the banter and antics of an onscreen couple whipping up some spaghetti sauce!
The day before Easter something happened that made Ferdi glad that his concentration skills weren’t perfect. He was on the Internet, doing an assignment for school, when he heard the message, “You’ve Got Mail.” He really should have finished his school assignment before he read the mail. Instead, he immediately opened his new mail. Yikes! It was an urgent message from his Dad, on a business trip to New York. He wasn’t able to get through on the phone but wanted the family to know that he wouldn’t be able to get home until Easter afternoon. But, more important, he was in a panic because he had to make deliveries of hundreds of Easter baskets to kids all over the San Joaquin Valley. The filled baskets were stored in the basement of the house, but all the names and addresses of the recipients were on his home computer files. Would Ferdi be able to find and decipher them? “Sure, Dad, I can handle it,” Ferdi e-mailed him back.
Then he got to work. It wasn’t easy; it was his first time using Microsoft Excel. But after an hour, he had it figured out. Printing the address labels and developing a delivery plan took another hour. Then he grabbed his brothers and told them about their Dad’s dilemma. The three brothers joined forces and worked half the night to see that the baskets were delivered as planned.
So it happened that it was not the athletic or the smart, handsome brother who was able to bring a happy Easter morning to hundreds and hundreds of lucky kids. His brothers helped, of course, but they could not have done anything without Nerdy Ferdi’s computer skills. His mother hugged him and said, “My little man saved the day.” Nice, but he didn’t want to be anyone’s little man, unless of course the ‘anyone’ happened to be that cute little Patti Cottontail, his classmate who always wore a pink bow in her hair. After all, anything was possible. Since his Easter triumph, he felt a new sense of confidence in himself. He knew that he would now be able to do better–in school and in life.
Ten days after Easter, Ferdi sat in English class, trying hard to concentrate. He was doing pretty well, until the teacher began to read from Tennyson: “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Ferdi glanced across the aisle. Patti Cottontail looked so cute today, with a tiny spray of flowers tucked in her pink hair ribbon. He couldn’t help but smile at her. And for the first time, she smiled back. Hey, it seemed like his luck was changing. The days of his being Mom’s “little man” were over.
Ferdi lived happily every after.
You can find many of Gail’s short stories in our mystery section, Mysteryrat’s Maze. The art in this story was done by Drusilla Kehl of The Illustrated Rat. To see more of her work go to her website and check out KRL’s article about Drusilla.
Editors note: While this issue is filled with Easter bunny and Easter food fun–I would like to take just a moment to say that the true meaning of Easter must not be lost here. Easter is about the death of Jesus Christ and celebrating not only that he died for those who believe, but also that he rose again. All us at KRL wish you a Happy Easter!