Bennie Blueberry: The Backstory

Nov 28, 2018 by Meryl S. Brown | Author


Bennie Blueberry: The Backstory

 

     On a bright, summer day, Bennie Blueberry sat on a worn-out bench overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Joy-filled family groups and clusters of kids could be seen just a 100-feet below him. Sadly, Bennie hadn’t been invited to join any of them. At the age of ten, he had learned to protect himself from hurt. His solution: being mean.

     It started when Bennie’s very tall, younger brother kept earning perfect grades and excelling in basketball, tennis, and swimming. It seemed that Barry had a bright future. With that in mind, his parents appeared to ignore Bennie. After all, Bennie’s short stature kept him from competing in basketball, his lack of coordination stopped him from pursuing tennis, and his fear of drowning barred him from participating in the school’s swim team.

     Bennie did possess one tool, one gift: his voice. With that in mind, he tried to join the school choir, but he got in fights with guys who teased him about his height. There was one other aspect of his young life that frustrated him. Why couldn’t he have been named Benjamin Blueberry, Jr.? 

     His well-respected grandfather, Benjamin Blueberry, owned many acres in the Santa Monica Mountains. Of all of the relatives, he seemed to have a special place in his heart for Bennie. When he died, Grandfather Blueberry’s will contained several rather unique requests. One involved building a camp on most of his twenty-five acres, a camp that contained a lake, a large cafeteria, meeting facilities as well as twenty-five cabins. Benny’s Uncle Brandon Blueberry, an architect, would carefully design the camp.

     Another segment of the will required Bennie’s parents to change his name to Benny, since Bennie seemed like a childish nickname. They pretended to follow that requirement; yet, they never legally altered the spelling of their son’s name, and, sadly, none of the attorneys followed up. On many occasions, confusion occurred at school when their son signed papers using the spelling Benny rather than Bennie.

     Although Benny’s dad, Barry, seemed to ignore his oldest son, Uncle Brandon encouraged Benny to pursue a singing career. He offered to take Benny, the spelling he preferred, to private voice lessons, but Barry wouldn’t allow it. Another level of frustration clouded over Benny’s life.

     Without supervision, he roamed around the city, walking wherever he chose. Benny often sang when he strolled. One October day, his dynamic rendition of “You Are So Beautiful to Me” caught the attention of Tommy Tomato, Coco’s distant cousin.

     “Wow, dude. You’ve got talent! Want to go on TV?”

    “Oh, hi, Tommy.  TV’s not for me. I just love to sing. No rules!”

     “Okay, Bennie! Such a waste of talent! Hey, I bet I can get you an audition to sing the National Anthem before the Super Bowl.”

     “Tommy, look, I’m not going to Atlanta to audition. I told you that I didn’t want to go on TV.”

     They spent about ten minutes bantering back and forth, coming to no resolution until Tommy pointed to his car and suggested they go to Teddy’s Tacos. That worked. Eating at the best taco restaurant in the state seemed like a great idea, and it indeed turned out to be a daily meeting place for Benny and Tommy. Except for Amanda Avocado, Tommy didn’t have anyone who wanted to go places with him.  He didn’t seem to care that Benny was in sixth grade. A rather unusual friendship began between two young men who society labeled as misfits.