Mr. Butterfly longed for the days before metamorphosis. Back when he and Mrs. Butterfly lived the humdrum caterpillar life. A quiet leaf dinner and an early bedtime.
But they were social butterflies now. Either hosting a gathering or fluttering off to one. He didn't care for it, and as Mrs. Butterfly went on and on about that evening's dinner party, Mr. Butterfly snapped.
“Enough, Muriel!” Mr. Butterfly screamed. “Enough!”
“Aren’t you tired of always fluttering about?! Ever since we’ve been butterflies, it’s been go, go, go with you. How about we stay, stay, stay home for a change? Enjoy a quiet leaf dinner. Maybe an early bedtime.”
“But, Clarence, we’re butterflies now," Mrs. Butterfly replied. “And, it’s time you started acting like one. Besides, our guests will be here any minute!"
“Well, I’m tired of acting like a butterfly,” Mr. Butterfly said. “I’m tired of being a butterfly. In fact, I’d rather us both be struck dead right this instant than live another day as a butterfly.”
“You be careful, Clarence,” Mrs. Butterfly warned. “Keep talking like that, and you might just get your wi—"
“Oh god, what have I done?!” Mr. Butterfly wailed in anguish. “What damned, spiteful wrath have I wrought? Take me, foul being! Take –"
Connor wiped the dead butterfly juice down the front of his sweater vest, after first smelling his hand.
As the bell for morning classes rang, he shuffled into the massive building that he had been sitting in front of for the previous 30 minutes. He shuffled down the hallway. He shuffled past his classroom. He shuffled up to a large wooden door, with the name "Professor James Robinson" plastered right in the middle of it.
Connor slammed his head several times into the door.
"Come in," said a voice from behind the door.
Connor turned the knob, while forcing open the door with his head.
"Hey, Mr. Robinson."
"Hello, Connor. You may begin."
To put it mildly, Connor was out of his element as an eighth grader at Thaddeus R. Wellington School for the Gifted and Talented. Frankly, he would’ve been out of his depth at most academic institutions, but TRWSFTGAT was the most prestigious kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school in the entire city of Boston. With that in mind, he was especially unqualified.
So, what was a child like Connor doing at a place like the TRW School?
“So, then what had happened was, and this is actually at least more than a hundred years ago, but there was this guy John Adams who shows up...”
Let’s interrupt the beginning of Connor’s history class presentation for a more straightforward explanation. As it turns out, Connor was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Thaddeus R. Wellington himself. So, while wholly unremarkable (and that’s being generous), the kid got a free pass.
Now, how did an individual from the same gene pool that produced Connor get the most prestigious kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school in Boston named after him?
“My quadruple-G grandad liked to drink a lot.”
As Connor put it, Thaddeus Wellington was a frequent imbiber. He was the town drunk, which was a fairly impressive title to hold considering he lived during colonial times when alcoholism was more of a necessity than a health risk.
One day Thaddeus was drinking at his favorite tavern, The Rusty Pecker, when, just as Connor mentioned earlier, in walked the second president of the United States himself, John Adams.
Now Adams was somewhat of a renowned drinker, so he plopped himself front and center of the ale-slinging establishment right alongside Thaddeus, and, without exchanging a word, the two went ale-for-ale.
Finally, after several hours had gone by and dozens of beers were consumed, Thaddeus decided to challenge His Rotundity to a friendly wager.
“Listen up, good sir,” began Thaddeus, who, this entire time, had not realized it was John Adams who he had been drinking with.
“I challenge you to a contest. A competition, if you will. Whoever can smash the most pint glasses on their head is the victor. If I win, I get that fancy wig you’re wearing.”
“What if I win?” Adams asked.
Instead of even bothering to respond, Thaddeus simply started grabbing pint glasses from behind the bar and smashing them on his forehead, to the shock and horror of the barkeep, but to the delight of everyone else in the near vicinity.
A large crowd formed. Passersby poured into the tavern as Thaddeus smashed glass after glass on his apparently rock-solid cranium.
Seven. Eight. Nine. It was a gruesome scene, as blood gushed from several points on the front of his skull, but the crowd hooted and hollered in a frenzy akin to the gladiatorial games.
Finally, Thaddeus flourished the 20th – and final – pint glass like a skilled magician. He placed the glass in front of him, and, in one fell swoop, smashed it into smithereens. The crowd erupted into cheers.
Then, suddenly, a hush fell over The Rusty Pecker, as all looked to John Adams to pay his debt.
“I’ll take that ridiculous head piece now, old boy,” triumphantly proclaimed Thaddeus, pulling a massive shard of glass from out of his lower-bottom gum line.
“To be clear, I never did agree to your wager, my good man,” Adams responded. “But, I did very much enjoy this wild, if terribly unseemly, spectacle. And, while I dare not part with my trusted wig..."
A beat. The suspense was almost too much.
“I shall start a school in your honor.”
The crowd looked over to Thaddeus.
“Well, it’s no fancy wig, but I’ll take it!”
The crowd broke the silence with thunderous applause and cheers. They hoisted Thaddeus on their shoulders and paraded him around the town square.
“And, that’s how this whole school got built. The end.”
Connor concluded his presentation, while his teacher, Mr. Robinson, looked down at the papers he was grading.
“How’d I do, Teach?”
“Very good, Connor,” Mr. Robinson responded dismissively, lost in his work. “You get the usual passing grade. I’ll see you on Monday. Have a good weekend.”
“Hey, Mr. Robinson?”
“Yes, Connor?” Mr. Robinson replied, looking up from his work.
“Do you think it’s all just a stupid, silly joke?”
“Do I think what is all just a stupid, silly joke?” Mr. Robinson echoed.
“The story. About how this school got started. My story, too. Me being here. Doesn't it seem pretty stupid and nonsensical?”
Mr. Robinson was taken aback by Connor's rather insightful question. He also didn't realize the boy knew the word "nonsensical."
"No, Connor, I don't think it's stupid."
"How did you think it will end? The story, I mean."
“Don’t worry, son. Things have a way of working themselves out. In a way, the end will mirror the beginning.”
Connor shuffled out of Mr. Robinson's office. He shuffled passed his classroom. He shuffled down the hallway. He shuffled out of the front door of Thaddeus R. Wellington School for the Gifted and Talented.
Then, the strange boy shuffled his way over to a nearby playground, plopped himself right in front of where all the children were swinging on the swing set, pulled out a smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the back pocket of his dirt-stained jean shorts, and began to eat it.
Connor calmly ate the sandwich, despite cries of “Move! Move!” from the swinging children.
Suddenly, a butterfly landed on Connor's nose. He smiled. New beginnings. A fresh start.
Connor smashed the butterfly.