BY WINSTON GROOM
For Jimbo Meador and George Radcliff —
who have always made a point of being
kind to Forrest and his friends.
There is a pleasure sure in being mad which none but madmen know. Dryden
Let me say this: bein a idiot is no box of chocolates. People laugh, lose patience, treat you shabby. Now they says folks sposed to be kind to the afflicted, but let me tell you — it ain’t always that way. Even so, I got no complaints, cause I reckon I done live a pretty interestin life, so to speak.
I been a idiot since I was born. My IQ is near 70, which qualifies me, so they say. Probly, tho, I’m closer to bein a imbecile or maybe even a moron, but personally, I’d rather think of mysef as like a halfwit, or somethin — an not no idiot — cause when people think of a idiot, more’n likely they be thinkin of one of them Mongolian idiots — the ones with they eyes too close together what look like Chinamen an drool a lot an play with theyselfs.
Now I’m slow — I’ll grant you that, but I’m probly a lot brighter than folks think, cause what goes on in my mind is a sight different than what folks see. For instance, I can think things pretty good, but when I got to try sayin or writin them, it kinda come out like jello or somethin. I’ll show you what I mean.
The other day, I’m walkin down the street an this man was out workin in his yard. He’d got hissef a bunch of shrubs to plant an he say to me, “Forrest, you wanna earn some money?” an I says, “Uh-huh,” an so he sets me to movin dirt. Damn near ten or twelve wheelbarrows of dirt, in the heat of the day, truckin it all over creation. When I’m thru he reach in his pocket for a dollar. What I shoulda done was raised Cain about the low wages, but instead, I took the damn dollar an all I could say was “thanks” or somethin dumb-soundin like that, an I went on down the street, waddin an unwaddin that dollar in my hand, feelin like a idiot.
You see what I mean?
Now I know somethin bout idiots. Probly the only thing I do know bout, but I done read up on em — all the way from that Doy-chee-eveskie guy’s idiot, to King Lear’s fool, an Faulkner’s idiot, Benjie, an even ole Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird — now he was a serious idiot. The one I like best tho is ole Lennie in Of Mice an Men. Mos of them writer fellers got it straight — cause their idiots always smarter than people give em credit for. Hell, I’d agree with that. Any idiot would. Hee Hee.
When I was born, my mama name me Forrest, cause of General Nathan Bedford Forrest who fought in the Civil War. Mama always said we was kin to General Forrest’s fambly someways. An he was a great man, she say, cept’n he started up the Ku Klux Klan after the war was over an even my grandmama say they’s a bunch of no-goods. Which I would tend to agree with, cause down here, the Grand Exalted Pishposh, or whatever he calls hissef, he operate a gun store in town an once, when I was maybe twelve year ole, I were walkin by there and lookin in the winder an he got a big hangman’s noose strung up inside. When he seen me watchin, he done thowed it around his own neck an jerk it up like he was hanged an let his tongue stick out an all so’s to scare me. I done run off and hid in a parkin lot behin some cars til somebody call the police an they come an take me home to my mama. So whatever else ole General Forrest done, startin up that Klan thing was not a good idea — any idiot could tell you that. Nonetheless, that’s how I got my name.