“THE SIMPLICITY OF SECOND NATURE”
WRITTEN BY ZARIUS
Disclaimer: The Simpsons and all trademarked characters are licensed by Matt Groening and FOX respectively
NOTE: A little late on this one, but here is my tribute fic to Marcia Wallace, the voice of the irreplaceable and loved Edna Krandell…I mean, Krabappel (“oh, I’ve been making an idiot out of myself”-Homer)
It was another glorious Saturday afternoon in the bright and blistering embrace of summer. School was out and the playfulness of the youth was in. Bart Simpson was outside looking for a means to simmer down. He found it by finding the nearby watering hose. He turned on the faucet, letting the water wash over his face.
As he began humming a loud little tune to himself, he was soon joined in by someone humming as well. Bart walked over to the source of the humming to find Ned Flanders’s new bride, and his school teacher, Edna Krabappel, lying down on the soft green grass dressed in dark blue shorts and a light green t-shirt with Duffman plastered on the front holding holy scripture in one hand and a keg of beer in another, with the words “What Would Jesus Brew?” engraved in a speech bubble.
Edna and Bart hummed in tune a bit longer, making eye contact with one another. After finishing up, Edna smiled.
“Mrs. Krabappel, and how are you this ever sizzling Saturday?” Bart said as he greeted her
“Waiting for Ned, and whenever or not his lord and master decides to call time on this wonderful forecast” she said, “He promised he’d try to stock up on some candles for one of our friends Hanukah celebrations. That’s what I love in a man, someone who’s always willing to hand you a light”
“Speaking of that, are you still smoking?” Bart asked
“If you’re referring to my body language you can zip it Woody” Edna replied
Bart was taken aback.
“What did you say?” Bart asked, leaning over the fence
“Oh come on ‘Woodrow’, it’s been a while now, you can drop all feigning of ignorance on the matter…” Edna said.
It had been such a warm and rosy day, but all of a sudden a slight breeze picked up and the sudden jolt of an unnerving chill ran up Bart’s back. He felt awkward and uncertain. This was a conversation he had never dreamt of imagining. He and his family had taken great care in attempting to avoid it.
It had been so long since the time he believed he had tricked Edna into thinking he was ‘Woodrow’, a charming romantic dreamer full of wit and zest, whose features bore more than a passing resemblance to NHL star Gordie Howe.
“But…how did you…” Bart said.
“HA! Bart I always knew it was you, your handwriting was unmistakable, except for that last letter I got, and you think I’m completely ignorant as to who Gordie Howe is? What do you think this is? A cheap comedy?”
Bart tried to cut back with some kind of wise-crack response, but feeling too ashamed to.
“Hey, don’t think you’re the only one feeling the strain of stress over this, I was the one who sent you that photograph of me in my, to quote Neddy, ‘Sunday Best'”
“Yeah…if you knew it was me the whole time, why did you do that? Is’nt that…you know…a little…inappropriate?” Bart said, slightly aggravated
“Bart, you have the mentality of a good and proper sigil occultist, but on many an occasion you display a wisdom above your station, it’s second nature to you, and I was at my wit’s end as a hopeless romantic, so I figured if you were trying to troll me in that state of mind, I’d take the bait and see how far you would push if you got the envelope shoved a little too far down the letter box. I was expecting you to back off, but you didn’t. Finally, I figured that if you were basking in the simplicity of your second nature whilst being motivated mainly by your mischievous first, and since it was making me feel so much better about myself, I’d bask in my first nature and teach you a bit of a bittersweet lesson when the prank had reached it’s climax.
I took it on chin and attempted to meet up with you at the restaurant, but of course you didn’t show up. Which was worse for me, as I was prepared to laugh off your gag and just enjoy a nice dinner whilst detailing just how much homework you would be forced to sit through throughout the next school holiday session as penance for your prank. Part of me relished anticipating the payback portion of the game…but you were smart enough to avoid that confrontation entirely. You robbed me of a kindly sort of revenge. As that sank in, I just broke down. It wasn’t that you had fooled me at all, but that I had actually let myself be touched by your letters and that you seemed to care enough to put real thought, compassion, and energy into them…and then indulge your bad side even in spite of all of that. I even tried to tell you when I saw you in class sometime later when I said you were the closest thing to a man I’d had in life at that point, but I think it went clean over your head”
“It didn’t go over my head, but Mom always said the truth would humiliate you” Bart said, “I couldn’t tell you even if I really wanted to”
“Bart, ‘humiliation’ is when you’re forced to crawl back to your ex-husband to have your car pumped with gas rather than be pumped full of his other goods”
“Careful now ma’am, you’re with the Lord’s herd now” Bart joked
“Yeah, well if he ever learned about this I’d be the black sheep of the family”
“Well he won’t…will he?” Bart said
Edna took out a packet of smokes, took out a cigarette and lit it up, “Of course not, I have my first and second natures to adhere to…to teach and to nurture, not to taint and cheapen the experiences I have with Ned and the boys. Another reason for me to stay attached to them, they follow a good principal in life, and any principal not named Skinner is all the better for me”
“So when you were dating Seymour and told me to keep quiet about it…that was when you exacted your revenge wasn’t it?”
“Oh totally” Edna replied, “Besides, I did it just to show you my sensitive side, as a reward for putting yours on such display in the letters, and in a way that wouldn’t harm you emotionally”
Bart, not knowing what else to add, began whistling again, Edna joined in
“Hey, you carry a good tune” Bart said.
“It’s a skill I’ve practised time after time with the kind of timing and love that echoes through the ages” Edna replied
“Just a note…my dad came up with that one in the last letter” Bart said, “You can also thank him for the ‘butt that won’t quit’ line”
“Figures, there’s always a chunk of Homer Simpson in all our thoughts…I’d rather do with just a bit” Edna replied
“I guess you’ll be wanting your photo back now” Bart said
“I reckon I ought to, it sort of blights the meaningful conversation we’ve just had…besides, I think I can use it to play a rather heavenly round of teasing ol’ Neddy” Edna joked.
Bart turned to go to the house and rummage through his room for the photograph, but as he did, a thought came over him, and he walked back over to Edna.
“Mrs. Krabappel, all this jibber-jabber about simplicity and second nature…I wouldn’t be so comfortable in mine if I didn’t feel so secure in your class, I can be anything, a clown, an anarchist, a listener, an author, I’m a human yo-yo where you’re concerned, I go in all kinds of directions, but I always absorb everything that goes on, and everything you say, good, bad, ever so slightly abusive, grows on me. The best teachers always come across as the parents we never had, and with your level of tolerance, you’re a prize candidate in any aspiring mother’s handbook. Rodd and Todd have much to look forward to”
“I don’t know if I should be dreading the next term…or relishing it with you around” Edna replied
“Hey, life is meant to be relished, after all you never know when you’re going to hear exit music” Bart said. Leaving those words to linger, Bart recommenced humming and wandered back inside his house
Edna didn’t join in as he left this time, she took the time to study her cigarette, she looked at the packet also. Her face hardened, a small tear ran down her cheek, and with the slight press of her finger, she crushed the cigarette. She then grabbed the packet and also crushed it with the full weight of her hand before getting up and disposing of it in the trash can at the front of the house.
Only then did she permit herself to hum with all the skill and love that would echo throughout her ages spent on this planet.