Forgotten Art: Norm – Newt 10

A reply to: A letter from Newt


Hey, Newt!

Every time I think about your letter, I smile. I know, I know! It’s been ages since I’ve written! But it’s been a long time for good reasons, not bad. Things are finally coming together with the business.

I’ve been smiling because your last letter was just so normal. It cracks me up. When we started writing each other, we were so opposite. I mean, yeah. We both ran our fathers’ companies and felt like we were living someone else’s life. But I didn’t have any women in my life (except my sister, but you know what I mean). You had plenty.

Now, I’m finally turning around the business so it feels like my business, run the way I want it to be run. You’re getting your life together. I’ve got Ira. And you’ve got Janet.

Now, we’re just two normal successful guys. Happy, boring people.

I kind of always wanted to be a happy boring person. It looked so good from the outside.

It feels pretty good from the inside, too.


This’ll  be a short letter. For one thing, I don’t have much to say. Life’s boring! It’s actually really good. No drama. Everything’s working out OK.

For another, I’ve got a little girl who’s waiting for me to read her a bedtime story.  She’s in the kitchen right now, having cereal for desert. We let her eat the junky kind, loaded with food coloring and all those sweets, but we don’t tell her that the food coloring is natural (beets and carrots and blueberries and stuff) or that the sweetener is malt syrup and honey. She likes it. It’s colorful. That’s what counts. It only matters to me and Ira that it’s healthy, too.


I was glad to hear that your cousin is OK. It’s been a while since you wrote, so I hope his recovery is still progressing well.

Hope things are going well with you and Janet, too. How’d your Christmas trip to see your aunt go?

It’s a funny thing. When I was young, I always took family for granted. They were there–they were the people who were in the home, always there. Then my mom died and my dad died not long after, and I was out in the world, running Dad’s business, and family were the ghosts who filled the empty corners of my empty house. I don’t know how Meadow kept on, after Mom and Dad died. She leaned on me. She leaned on our uncle Jasper. She disappeared into her books and studies. But mostly, for me at that time, family was the ache around my heart. I tried not to think of them.

It’s so different now. Now family is the chatter in the kitchen. Family is the jokes at the end of the day. Family is that warm feeling of not being alone when I’m home.


It’s like it was when I was a kid, except I don’t take it for granted anymore.

I liked that sense I got from your last letter that you don’t take it for granted anymore, either. It sounds like Janet really means something to you. Heck, you two are taking it slow! That’s a change!

I know from experience when you’ve got a good woman, she’s worth waiting for.

Whenever Ira takes a long time getting ready to go out, or is late coming home, or keeps us waiting for supper, I always tell her it’s no big deal. I’d wait forever for her.

But I got a sleepy little girl who won’t wait forever for me, and tomorrow’s a school day. I’d better wrap this up and find that sleepy-head so we can read tonight’s installment of Treasure Island.


Take care, Newt! Maybe next time, I’ll have something more exciting to share. But truthfully? I hope not. I like the boring life just fine.

Be happy,


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Septemus 4

Dear Sept,

I’m so glad you like the dolls I got for you.

I had to search all over town to find the one with blue skin.

“Here you go,” I said when I handed her to you. “Bizaabgotojo.”

“Bizaabgotojo,” you said. “Oooh, squeegeee.”


I played with the brown-skinned doll.

It was fun listening to you humming. Your little song told the story of a day–all the moods of waking and cooking and cleaning and playing.


Your song stopped and you turned to me.

“Bizaabgotojo?” you said, handing me the blue-skinned doll.

You looked at the brown-skinned doll in my other hand and smiled. I gave it to you.

“Sebastion!” you said. You said my name. And you snuggled the brown-skinned doll close to you, laughing like a tiny cave river, sparkling in the moonlight.


“Sebation ista moostomi bizaabgotojo,” you said. And you smiled and I felt something split wide open inside me. And I don’t think I will ever be the same again.


Your bizaabgotojo,


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Forgotten Art: Norman – Newt 5

A reply to: A letter from Newt


Hey, Newt!

I am so glad you understand me about the appeal of collectibles. I was getting worried we’d have this area of miscomprehension. But you get it! Yeah! It’s just like collecting trading cards.

My latest acquisition is something really special: It’s an original Spanish-rubber rubber ducky made from 100% organic, fair trade rubber.

Right. Now that I write that out it sounds a little… OK. Hold the innuendos. It’s not what you think

I’ve been looking for more natural rubber products. The company needs to make some investments, and I’ve been pushing for the natural rubber industry. It’s more eco-friendly.

The antique collectible cat that Ira collects, Mistress Mew-Meow, is made from natural volcanized rubber. It’s a fascinating process, developed in the 1840s–it was patented in the U.S. in 1844 by none other than Charles Goodyear–you’ve heard of him–so, this process involves adding sulfur to the rubber to form cross-links between the polymers, thereby rendering the structure more durable and firm.

Chemistry lesson for the day–at no charge, I might add!

Anyway, the llamacorn that I collect is also made from vulcanized rubber, which is why it’s so hard. (Not so the rubber ducky, which remains a soft, pliable rubber.)

The other day, Ira and I were out for a walk in the neighborhood when a teen tourist tried to buy my pink and purple vintage Lollicorn–the one I told you was so rare.

I made a show of asking Lolly, “So would you like to have a new home with this nice young lady?”

But Ira was all like, “No. Get real. The vintage pink and purple Lollicorn is NOT for sale. Do you KNOW how rare these things are?”


Man, did I tell you? She’s an awesome woman.

We had so much fun the other day. As soon as her daughter ran off to school, Ira turned to me and said, “Babe! We’re free!”

GeekCon was in the city, so we hopped the speed rail and got there in time to enter the Ultimate Gaming Contest.


We didn’t win. I was distracted because I kept looking over at Ira. She looked amazing in that gaming rig. And she said she was distracted by my jokes.

I can’t help it. I can’t seem to stop cracking jokes when she’s around.

We were hungry and thirsty so we headed over to the bar across the street, and we ran into my sister.


She and Ira go way back.

Smooth, my sister is not.

“So are you two like a couple now?” she asked.

Ira IS smooth.

“Well, I’m not sure we’re together together,” she replied. But then she went on to talk about how we’re best friends and how she and Aaradhya moved in. I kept thinking that labels mean nothing–except for maybe the label of “best friends,” which, for some reason means a lot to me.

And all the time, I had this raging grin.


My sister looked at me, smiling, too.

“That’s so nice, Normie,” she said. Ah! I just wanted to pull her hair like I did when she was a bratty twelve-year-old! I settled for laughing with her.

“You’re laughing with me,” I told her, “not AT me.”

“Right,” she replied, laughing all the harder.


Look, I tell you: things are just about perfect.

I’m not sure I know what you mean or even believe you when you say you weren’t in love with your wife. I mean, you had kids. What does “in lust” even mean? Can you separate the two?

I’m not so sure I can.

I guess it makes me a dweeb to admit that. But hell. I’m a dweeb. I’ve been called worse.

So, you asked, “Maybe if you are in love with Ira, you can tell me what it’s like.”

I’m not really in touch with my feelings, so I can’t tell you what it feels like.

But all I know is that I’m smiling all the time.


I guess that’s what it feels like. It feels like a smile that starts with an irrepressible grin and spreads inside until I laugh at the stupidest things.

Like algebra. Who the heck laughs at algebra?

But last night, Ira was explaining to Aari what “solve for x” meant, and I couldn’t stop laughing. “X.” What the heck is so funny about that? “Solve for x.” Even now, it makes me laugh. It must have to do with Ira’s delivery.


I’m in touch with my thoughts, Newt, even if I’m clueless about my feelings.

And my thoughts seem to be all wrapped up in Ira and Aari. I want what’s best for them. I want them safe, happy, healthy. For me, I want them to live here, but if Ira were to tell me tomorrow that she got a great job in Timbuktu, and they had to move, I’d be happy for her. Of course, I might sell Windenburg Wind and Sun and move with her, but the point is, if she’s happy, I’m happy.


Thinking about her happiness has become like my number one mental pursuit these days.

I know it’s whacked, but the thing is, it makes me happy.


And I think it’s doing something good for her, too.

Did you know that people can laugh in their sleep?


Well, this letter was all about me. Sorry about that, man. I guess maybe that’s a sign of being in love. I’ve always heard that there’s no one more self-absorbed than new lovebirds.

It’s a disease, man, but it’s a smiling disease, and I’m not really interested in the cure.

I’m sure I’ll be over it the next time you write, and then I’ll be able to be a better pal.

For now, maybe you can just overlook that I’m a dweeb and a sap and chalk it up to a rash case of raging grin infatuation.

Stay cool, Newt.


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