All of Herbert’s life, no one paid much attention to him. Conversations would duck, zig-zag, bend, and swoop around him. Words uttered by him were shuddered away and forgotten about as soon as possible.
Once, in junior high school, he had held another boy’s attention for 15 seconds. He had counted. The boy’s name was Robert Hannely. Herbert had started a sentence and then paused, in disbelief, as the boy looked back waiting patiently for the rest of the statement. Upon finishing, the boy shrugged and walked away. A crowning achievement! Fifteen seconds of unforced attentiveness!
Herbert had other such achievements, though he never liked to brag about them. The truth is, bragging would require longer than fifteen seconds.
A girl named Cynthia Matz bumped into Herbert quite innocently in high school. She really never noticed him before and quite honestly barely realized she bumped into him at all.
“Sorry!” she said in case it was her fault, though she swore he came out of nowhere. He responded with a very informative, “I like peanut butter.”
Seven seconds. Though Herbert multiplied this by two to make fourteen seconds since she was very pretty and, in fact, a girl. He once thought of multiplying it by three since there was physical contact, but decided against it. Wouldn’t want to make the time inaccurate. Besides, competing with a twenty-one second event would cause him to always go for the multiplier, bumping into women everywhere. No, no, better keep it at fourteen.
Oddly enough, his parents barely noticed he was born. They were as excited as most expecting couples, but for some reason, on the day of Herbert’s birth, the quite quaint insignificance of it seemed to dull the whole idea of a child and from that day forth, his parents seemed mildly interested beyond performing the basic parental duties.
Herbert knew he was an unusually small baby, so of course it made sense that the birth was quick and easy. He was proud of that fact, though his mom and he had never really talked about it. His father only gave a general sigh when he saw his son. As if to say, “I guess.”
But when Herbert turned 32 years old his life changed. It turns out many changes would follow this initial break from the ordinary.