Once upon a time, there was a cute little boy with a crooked smile and hair sprouting out of the back of his head that refused to lie down. His parents, after mounting pressure from school authorities, elected to name him Kevin, because that’s what most of their friends had done with theirs.
For all his idiosyncrasies, Kevin seemed to fit in pretty well. In fact, it’s claimed he often became invisible. He managed not to get himself beaten most of the time, because the more visible boys were too busy fighting each other. It meant he managed to hold onto his looks.
He escaped bullying and was never given a nickname – none that stuck, anyway. He wasn’t ignored or friendless – he was always there in the knot of childish activities and games. He just blended-in so well that no one really noticed him.
He was neither a swot, nor a dunce. Rarely asked a question in class and was able to spend most of his time looking out of the window, where he felt he belonged.
In football, he was picked neither first nor last and never fell foul of envy or regret. He was beckoned across by the young tacticians as they patted the backs of their stars and pondered how to avoid the sick, lame and the lazy.
He was once asked out by a pretty girl. They cycled to the swimming baths where they spent an absent hour swimming through each other’s legs. It never occurred to Kevin that she was waiting for him to make a pass. They rode home happily in the sunshine and never went out again.
Adolescence taught him the art of motorcycle repair, which gave him a mechanical bent, and he sought his living in various factories around the town. He didn’t particularly shine, but nor did he fail, and became an apprentice in the firm where his mother worked along with his aunts, uncles, cousins and so on.
No matter how hard he tried, he was always well liked, if not quite popular. He never managed to be given the sack and nor was he promoted to the drawing-office. But he served his time, worked his hours and earned his pay – and never had to drink on his own after work.
And so it went on. His wedding was small. His marriage short – as many are. He moved away and lived with strangers until they were strangers no more. Then he packed his bag and moved on again – found a job in another town and settled down, packed his bag and moved on again.
And as the years have passed, the crooked grin remains in its place, his eyes still squint at the sun – his hair no longer stands on end for he opts to wear it long. Nobody seems to mind and at least he’s not bald.
He isn’t broke, but he needs his pay by the end of the month. But that’s ok. He’s happy enough with the life that he shares with the woman he loves, until they go their separate ways in a month or a few to look for something they hope will be there, but can’t be sure.
And through the window, out in the sun, stands a cute little boy with hair sticking up, hands in pockets while raising a crooked smile.