While I was sitting in our family room a couple of evenings ago, my son sat down beside me and asked if I had any ideas for a short story he was to write for a class at his school. I'm a pretty imaginative guy, so I rattled off half a dozen ideas, all of which had him laughing hysterically followed by his pronouncement that the topic wouldn't be appropriate for school. Most of my suggestions were pretty bizarre, I admit, but there was one that we both liked best. He still thought that it was too 'weird,' though.
The story starts with a teenage boy fast asleep in his room. The serene atmosphere is interrupted as a low droning sound begins outdoors and slowly gets louder, as if whatever is making the noise is getting closer. The boy starts to stir in his sleep, eventually awakes completely, and rubbing the sleep from his eyes staggers to the window to see what is making the strangely disturbing sound.
He looks out the window but can't really see anything. The droning sound continues, getting louder all the time, so he knows there is definitely something out there, he just can't see it yet. He waits, impatiently, fear building. As he stands there, a vague outline of something so large that it blocks out most of the sky and everything in it, appears. It is huge, and appears to be shaped like a pie pan. No, make that a frying pan, because there appears to be something sticking out one side that looks very much like a handle.
The boy continues to watch. He is afraid, but just can't tear himself away from the sight. It is getting lighter outside as morning approaches, and he begins to see the outline of the object more clearly. Yes, the object looks very much like the frying pan he sees his mother use sometimes. He tries hard to see more detail on the pan, perhaps the little round windows that science fiction artists always seem to draw on their renditions of spacecraft, but to no avail. The object simply looks like a frying pan, a huge frying pan, perhaps the size of several football fields. It doesn't make sense to the boy, and he remains glued to the spot, watching to see what will happen.
He does another visual scan, starting at the round end of the pan and moving towards the handle. Then, he sees it: a hand, a very large hand, is attached to the handle of the huge pan. And, slowly becoming more distinct as the sky lightens, there is a very, very large body attached to the hand. The boy strains to look up, towards where the head of the body should be, but the body is so large that the top disappears up into the sky, too far away to be seen clearly.
What, the boy wonders, as he turns finally to awake his parents and try to run away, is that strange and monstrous creature, and what does it want with us?
The answer, as the boy, his parents, and hundreds of others in the community find out not much later is:
Yeah, I know I'm weird. My son has asked me to help him come up with something more 'normal.' What, I wonder, is so great about normal? I have never had any desire to be normal, at least in the sense of 'average,' just like everyone else. What is special about that? Do I want to think and act just like Tom, Dick, and Harriet? Do I really want to be Joe Average?
No. And neither should anyone else be content to be Joe or Josephine Average.
I do want to be a good daddy though, so I will continue to try to help my son with story ideas, 'normal' story ideas. Whatever that means!