William Michael Parker, or Billy as he was known, was born to an average family, who lived in an average house in an average town.
Billy’s parents did everything right by way of raising him. They had all the parenting books, DVDs and CD-ROMs on the subject. Dr. Benjamin Spock was their God. So, imagine their dismay when Billy announced one spring day as the family gathered around the breakfast table over a meal of pancakes and scrambled eggs that he wanted to be a garden gnome.
Billy had always had an odd fascination with the statues he’d see in the neighbors yards, and when asked what he wanted for Christmas or his birthday, he undoubtedly would ask another gnome to add to his growing collection. Quite frankly, the boy’s obsession was very troublesome to Mr. and Mrs. Parker, but they wanted their son to be happy and well-adjusted, so they would give in to his desires. But this was just silly.
His parents begged him to reconsider; “what about a state senator or a lawyer, son?”
“No. Mother, Father–I want to be a gnome.”
And with that, Billy Parker began his attempt. He rummaged around the area and neighbor’s trash bins for items he could use to create his gnome attire–a traffic cone for his hat, Mr. Rimmel’s old faded gym shorts that his wife threatened him with divorce if he did not throw away in the garbage as his trousers, his father’s now too-small suit vest as a shirt. He shimmied up a light pole and carefully walked across the electrical wires to retrieve the pair of shoes flung up there by some teenagers, and perhaps the most disturbing aspect of his costume was what he used for his beard: used cotton balls.
Billy diligently constructed his outfit and admired himself in the reflection of a bird bath, adjusting his cone hat and smoothing his cotton ball beard.
He would stand for hours in his own backyard among his mother’s azaleas and rose bushes, as still as can be, until his mother would yell at him to come inside for dinner.
“For God’s sake, William, take that ridiculous garbage off and wash up. We’re having pork chops.”
“Mother, gnomes do not eat pork chops,” Billy retorted. “They eat mushrooms, berries and grass.” This would evoke an evil look from Mother and her muttering under her breath about wishing they had a little girl instead.
As time wore on, he began venturing to other backyards and standing among other rose bushes.
“Martha? The Parker boy is in the yard again. He just isn’t right in the head.”
Despite his family’s embarrassment and shame, they grew to accept Billy as the gnome he is and loved him regardless of his bizarre ways.
So, if you’re driving through the neighborhood and see a very life-life gnome, tip your hat and wave. Chances are, Billy will wave back.