Copyright 2004 by Seth Chambers
I took my brain into the shop for a tune-up. It just lay there while the mechanic looked it over this way and that. “Yup,” the mechanic said. “Gonna cost ya. And it’ll take awhile.”
“How long?” I asked.
“Have it back to ya next Tuesday.”
“What? I can’t go a week and a half without my brain. What if I have to think between now and then?”
“What you got to think about?”
“I don’t know! Something might come up.”
“Guess I can let ya have a loaner brain, but it’ll cost ya.”
“If it’ll cost me, then it’s hardly a loaner, now is it?”
“Take it or leave it.”
So I took it.
“Jeez!” my loaner brain whined once it was lowered into my cranium. “You got a big honkin’ noggin!”
“You like it?” I asked.
“I feel like I’m in an airplane hanger! Hey, don’t move around so much, there’s nothing to hold onto in here!”
I told him –or it or whatever—that I could hardly sit still all the time.
“What?” he snapped. “You giving me a hard time? ‘Cause if you wanna mess with me, believe you me I can mess right back!”
I told it no, I only wanted to get through the week, then we could part ways when I got my old brain back. But the little sponge just kept right on: “You give me crap, I give you crap right back, mister!”
While walking to my car, I introduced myself to the loaner brain and asked what I should call him. Or it. Or whatever. “Address me as Lord and Master,” he snapped. “But if that’s too much for you to handle, just call me Einstein. And while we’re having this here friendly little chat and gettin’ to know each other, let me just cue you in on The Rules, so there will be no misunderstanding.”
“Rules? What rules? My old brain never laid down any rules.”
I had just gotten into my car and was pulling out of the lot.
“Your old brain must’ve been a Neanderthal!”
“I think I’m having second thoughts about you, brain.”
“Which brings us to Rule Number One,” he announced. “And that is I do the thinking around here. That’s my department, my forte, my area of expertise, my bailiwick, my...”
“I get the idea!”
“Rule Number Two!” the brain roared in my ears. “No drinking. At least, not so long as I’m in residence. Do what you want when the Neanderthal’s back.”
“Fair enough,” I admitted. “But I wish you wouldn’t insult my brain. It serves me well.”
“If it serves you so well, then what am I doing here? Hmmm? Don’t answer, that would require you to think, which is not your department. Rule Number Three...”
As I drove home, the new brain went on recounting rules and lecturing. At one point in his tirade he warned, “And if you dare to disobey me, I got something for you!” The next second the theme song from Diff’rent Strokes blared in my ears as if through a megaphone. I screamed and begged him to stop it. Mercifully, the noise ceased.
“That was just a warning!”
Once home, he ordered me to go to my bookshelves so he could see what I had to read. He scoffed. “Is this the kind a crap your usual brain reads? He’s not a Neanderthal, he’s an australopithecine! Go out and get me some literature! Aristotle, Nietzsche, Shakespeare! Hurry, chop chop!” The libraries were closed so I hit a Barnes and Noble where I loaded up with a huge stack of tomes. Pulling out of the bookstore lot, I asked the brain if he was happy now. “Speed up, I want to get on home to read up on Socrates’ Allegory of the Cave.”
I did as ordered then had to slam the brakes as somebody in a pickup truck pulled in front of me.
“Hey, that redneck cut you off! Give him the finger!” the brain screamed.
Then the Diff’rent Strokes theme song returned, even louder than before. I screamed in agony and did as the little sponge demanded. The driver of the pickup saw the gesture in his rearview and returned the sentiment in double.
“Honk your horn and flip him off again!” my brain squealed in delight.
Fearing the Diff’rent Strokes theme, I did as ordered.
I drove home, the Ford F-250 hot on my tail.
“Now what am I gonna do?” I asked the brain.
“You leave that to me,” it assured me. “I know Jeet Kun Do. You just relax.”
I pulled in my drive and the pickup skidded in behind me. I got out and the pickup driver bounded out of his vehicle and strode toward me. He was a big, tough-looking bruiser. My brain instructed me as to what to say. I won’t relate just what sentiment he had me convey, but it was impolite and involved trauma to bodily orifices.
“Just relax and let me take it from here,” the brain whispered.
Well, I thought (even though I wasn’t supposed to think), maybe the brain knows what he’s doing. Then adrenaline coursed through my system and my senses kicked into High Alert. I could tell that my new brain was preparing to transform my body into a leaping, flying, kicking, punching whirlwind of martial artistry.
I snapped into a fighting stance.
Then: WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!
The punches connected with my gut like a wrecking ball.
“Had enough?” my assailant asked.
It didn’t take any thinking at all to realize that yes, I had plenty. I told him as much, between gasps, and he drove away. My loaner brain screeched with laughter.
“Oooow we, you done got your butt kicked!” it cackled. “That was priceless!”
“I thought you knew Jeet Kun Do!”
“Yeah, I do. I Know a lot of Spanish words, too, wanna hear some, muchacho?
Okay, playtime over, haul those books inside, I wanna do me some readin’.”
I did as he said. Once inside, I put the stack of books on the end table and collapsed in my recliner. “Pick up that book there,” the sponge ordered. I picked it up and opened it for him. The brain read a paragraph. “Wow, this is deep!” he said. “I could use a beer!”
“But you said...”
The next second I was sprinting for the refrigerator as Diff’rent Strokes blared in my ears. Once I returned, the brain ordered me to turn the television on to the History Channel. I did so. “Wow, that was interesting,” it said after five minutes of a WWII documentary. “Now flip on over to the cartoon network. And what else you got to drink?”
The next morning I awoke to a terrible pounding. It felt like somebody was hammering a nail to the inside of my skull. “I hate hangovers,” I muttered.
“Stop moving around!” the brain screamed. “I’m trying to hang pictures in here!”
“Hang pictures? Where?”
“In this football stadium you call a head!”
Pound! Pound! Pound!
“Pictures of what?”
“Of hot young brainettes! Ooooow we, lookit the convolutions on her!”
Pound! Pound! Pound!
I asked if that meant he was getting more comfortable with his accommodations.
“Actually, it’s kinda nice having all this room, once you get used to it.”
“Well, don’t get too used to it. On Tuesday I’m getting my old brain back.”
“Ah, you don’t want that Neanderthal back in here. Yeah, this’ll be a good home for me, once I throw up a few more works of art. Also got me some potted plants and…”
“No!” I shouted. “This has gone far enough.”
The Diff’rent Strokes theme blared in my ears again but I didn’t care. “I want you OUT!”
Diff’rent Strokes grew by several decibels, roaring in my head. My brain merrily sang along. I groped my way to the phone and called my mechanic. I pleaded with him to get my brain’s tune-up done early.
“Gonna cost ya,” he said.
“I DON’T CARE!”
“No need to shout, I ain’t deaf. Have it ready at close of business today.”
As soon as I hung up, the Diff’rent Strokes theme abruptly stopped and the brain announced, “Okay, that does it. I’m on strike. Try to get to the garage without my help.”
That seemed easy enough. All I had to do was find my keys and drive across town. I looked for my keys. I looked on my nightstand, in my jacket pocket, and under the cat. My cat got up and found a new place to nap. No luck finding the keys, so I checked my nightstand. Then my jacket pocket. Ah, maybe they were under the cat. Nope. So I checked my nightstand. I looked for two hours with no luck.
“I WILL find them!” I shouted.
“But why? We could make such a great team, you and I. I can get you women!”
“My own brain gets me women just fine.”
“I mean without paying!”
I kept looking for the keys and, after about another hour, I found them. They were under the cat. I gave a victory whoop. “I got them, you miserable little sponge!” The brain only laughed and said, “Yeah, but try and get to the garage without my help!” But what he didn’t know is that I was used to driving on autopilot.
Just as I pulled into the parking lot, the Diff’rent Strokes theme raged in my ears. I laughed and bounded inside the garage. And there he was, my old brain, just coming off the jacks. My brain hummed. He philosophized and expostulated, conjectured and hypothesized. He benched pressed the Oxford English Dictionary. Oh, he was in fine form indeed.
“I’m not going anywhere,” my loaner brain shrieked over the Diff’rent Strokes theme. “And you can’t make me.”
My old brain saw me and waved its dendrites. I beamed and told him how good it was to see him again. “You’re looking fit,” I said. “But I... Um, I got a little problem with this other brain, this so-called Einstein.”
“Yeah. And he called you a Neanderthal.”
“Well, you just leave him to me,” my old brain said.
He jumped on top of my head and dove inside. A terrible scuffle ensued. Crashing, banging, smashing. Moments later the loaner brain came tearing out of my skull, yipping like a whipped dog. Then his posters and potted plants came flying out after him. My brain chuckled inside my head.
I called out to the loaner brain, “Oooow we,
you done got your oblongata kicked, didn’t you?”
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