Hubert, stop playing with those darn Lego Logs and get on Grandpa’s lap. See, this is a picture of me in 1956. That little girl in the rocking chair is your great-aunt Miriam. And see the boy holding that ball of worms? No, that boy was our neighbor, Stanley. That’s me in his arms. When I was your age, I was a ball of worms.
Don’t be frightened. I’m still the same Grampy with a Werther’s in his pocket for his favorite grandson even though I used to be a tangled writhing mass of soil covered earthworms.
On the day I was born, when the doctor pulled a handful of bloody worms out of Momma, every single person in the delivery room fainted. Momma swore up and down she’d never cheated on Daddy with another soul, man or worm. Daddy figured it was a trick the Nazis played on his manly fluids to turn the next generation of hardworking Americans into useless piles of spineless nematodes.
The doctor said I’d never amount to anything more than catfish bait, but Momma and Daddy treated me just the same as their other kids. Here we are racing in the soapbox derby, on a trip to The Grand Canyon, and even all dressed up for Halloween. I went as a plate of spaghetti.
Now, Hubert, I bet you’re wondering how I went from a thrashing mass of slimy invertebrates to the man who falls asleep every night watching NCIS. Have you ever heard of swarm intelligence? It’s when the collective intelligence of the group is greater than its parts, like a school of fish or a colony of ants. Well, that’s what happened to me. Or more accurately, the constantly multiplying horde of worms that comprise me.
All the worms started working together to make a boy. In this picture, I’m pitching on my middle school baseball team. See, I’ve almost got arms. And here I’m playing Iago in our high school production of Othello. The school paper gave me a glowing review because most of the town thought I was some type of demon. And this is me on my first day of work in the coal mine. I always had a knack for being underground.
By the time I was twenty-five, I could walk down the street and people assumed I had been in a terrible fire leaving my skin pink and slimy. No one knew I was actually several thousand worms in a tweed suit. Here I am on my wedding day with your Grandma. I was her first boyfriend so she assumed all men dissolved into a squirming mass of earthworms when they took their pants off. Forty-five years later and I have yet to disabuse her of that notion.
And this right here is a picture of me holding your daddy when he was born. I was so relieved when he came out human that I didn’t even mind he had the same nose as the plumber. Every summer your daddy and I would go fishing. I could stick my hand in the water and catch a fish on every finger. It wasn’t all easy though. Grandma had to teach him how to shave because I don’t have any hair. And how to eat as I simply return to the Earth every evening to feast on the soil. But we made do.
Hubert, don’t be upset. I’m still the same old Grampy. Let me pull up my sleeve and you can have a touch. See, that’s not so bad, huh. The worms are packed together so tightly you can barely feel the constantly seething stew holding themselves together to create a man.
Now, before I let you go back to your game I’ve got something very important to tell you. This might come as a bit of a shock, but you’re a ball of worms too. You don’t seem very surprised, but then again you’re simply a mound of convulsing Lumbricus Terrestris.
It wasn’t easy growing up as a ball of worms, but I hope my story serves as an inspiration. You can be anything you set your swarm intelligence to. A doctor, a lawyer, a poet, absolutely anything. Except for an ornithologist.