11 March 2012

Another Wayne, another place...

Bush Falls, from which I quoted this morning, contains a cast of characters amongst whom two are called "Wayne" and "Sean".

Wayne, in the Bush Falls context, is a sympathetic character – the moral hero of the story, in fact. Sean, who fills the central villain rôle, is a bully at school who grows into an adult bully who blows things up for a living.

Oddly enough, though, I once knew a Wayne who later blew things up for a living.

In a grade 5 classroom at Elizabeth Fields Primary School, I sat next to Wayne for an interminable few months. When the class teacher asked a question and I supplied the correct answer, Wayne would mutter "clever dick!" and punch me in the right ear. If I got the answer wrong, Wayne would mutter "ree-tard!" and punch me in the right ear. If I kept quiet, Wayne would mutter "answer, you pommie bastard!" and punch me two or three times in the right ear.

I'd like to be able to tell you that I stood up to Wayne, defeated him, earned his respect ... but it wouldn't be true. Wayne was three times my weight and I was a coward. Instead, I invented game theory and the minimax solution: answering a question, whether right or wrong, brought only one ringing ear while silence earned me several. I became known as an enthusiastic answerer of questions, and acquired the nick name "professor".

Wayne's father blew things up for a living ... mostly destroying tree stumps, but sometimes creating irrigation or drainage channels. Wayne once brought a detonator to school and ... but that's another story. Some years later, long after I was on the other side of the world, I heard that he had gone into the family destruction business.

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