by Amanda Douglas
LOS ANGELES, CA – From his days as a toddler to a tween, 9-year-old Howard has always been too young for his name. In 2017, a national survey indicated that while the name dominated the eighty-year-old male demographic, it was almost completely absent among those under two decades old.
Nevertheless, Howard has come to terms with the name. “Maybe I would’ve complained about it back in preschool,” he admitted, taking a long sip from his juice box, “but I couldn’t form full sentences back then.”
When Howard enters homeroom in the morning, he moves slowly, nursing a perpetual limp. “I always ask if he’s feeling alright,” the teacher mentioned. “But all he ever says is ‘oh, it’s just the ol’ back achin’ again.’” Before sitting down, Howard takes off his pea coat and places his briefcase in a cubby.
Howard is vigilant in policing the lunch line at the cafeteria. “I don’t want any rascals to pull a fast one on me,” he said with a light chuckle. While the other kids pay upwards of five dollars for their meal, Howard only coughs up two singles. “I’m not sure how or why he qualifies for an AARP discount,” the lunch lady explained. “But it’s in the paperwork.”
Before starting his homework, Howard set to work on one of his side-projects, tearing through a sheet of papers like there was no tomorrow. He revealed a single crayon-drawn house after a half hour of silence. When asked about his interest in art, Howard offered a hearty shrug. “It’s just a hobby I’ve picked up over the years,” he responded, tucking his portrait into a filing cabinet. “Not practical as a career, but it’s nice to let loose sometimes.”
Howard went to get a glass of water and noticed that the cabinet was squeaky. He sighed, teetered over to the garage, and returned with a toy kit of tools. “Linda will kill me if I don’t fix this,” Howard said, tinkering with the hinge. Linda is Howard’s mom.
“Oh, he’s always been an old soul,” Linda commented, eyeing Howard’s collection of Frank Sinatra records. “The name really chose him.”
Later that night, Howard’s younger sister Gladys and brother Glen returned home after an afternoon on the golf course. There were no parents in sight.