Chapter 1 – Growing Pains
As you might guess, Phalange Johnson, a youth of 11, had an interesting childhood. He was the second most tormented kid in fifth grade, and no wonder when he was named after a finger…or a toe, no one knew which and he wasn’t telling. He was next only to Platypus Sherman in the league of the persecuted. Phalange’s only defense was his never-ending store of practical jokes.
When Guy Hopkins had the nerve to tell Phalange that his sick leave must have been due to toe-nail fungus, he was well repaid. The next day his PB&J had some special flavoring added – fat, juicy night-crawlers! From that day on Guy saved his fungus comments for less dangerous victims.
Then there was the time that Jerry Mills hung up as his art project – a grimacing hand-print traced on construction paper with “Phalange Johnson” boldly printed across the thumb. Big mistake.
After a week of planning, Phalange got Jerry sent to the principle’s office by tying some fishing line to his long-sleeved shirt while Jerry was nodding off in Arithmetic class. He then proceeded to raise Jerry’s hand for three of the the hardest questions before Jerry was awake enough to know what was happening.
Between his name and his pranks, young Mr. Johnson had only one friend in school. Who? Platypus Sherman! After all, they had both been teased enough not to even consider teasing each other, and so they struggled through grade-school side by side, standing up for each other when the other was bullied and meeting we knights to do homework together.
Their paths separated in college, however, as they attended different universities. The moral support was no longer as necessary. They introduced themselves as Phil and Pat and were known by those names. Phil studied in North Carolina, while Pat preferred to pick up his degree out west in New Mexico. Both quickly rose in popularity in their respective colleges.
Though the two kept up a casual correspondence, the distance prohibited their old intimacy. So Phil turned his back on the small hardships of earlier years and started anew as a freshman.