When Bildungsroman Billy was still just referred to as “Billy,” people just knew that he was going to be special.
“I just know you’re going to be special,” people would say to Billy.
“Why do you think so?” other people would ask.
“Well just look at him! He’s got one of those faces.”
Billy would mostly just sit there and smile, or perhaps eat his peanut butter and jelly sandwich that he brought from home every single day. This happened so often that, before long, the entire seventh grade class believed, rightfully, that Billy was going to be special.
On the day that Bildungsroman Billy made the leap from just “Billy” to Bildungsroman Billy, people just knew that it was going to be a special day.
“I just know that today is going to be a special day,” people would say.
“How do you know that?” other people would ask.
“Just take a whiff of this air,” people would insist, “just take a fucking whiff of this air. This is a special type of air, an inexplicably extraordinary type of air.” All of the seventh graders stopped to take a big whiff of the air circulating throughout the hallway. The hallway, that usually was clogged with Axe Body Spray and farts, did, indeed, smell a bit different.
“Oh yeah, that’s special alright,” one girl confirmed.
“Uh huh, uh huh… I can smell it now. Something big is definitely going to happen today,” another boy verified.
Sure enough, the people were right, but even they didn’t realize how right they truly were. Midway through their English class, when the teacher was talking about The Catcher in the Rye, Billy raised his hand. His hand, rather, shot up in the air like a firework on the Fourth of July.
“I believe that this novel is a bildungsroman.”
“A what?” another boy murmured under his breath.
“What does he think that this novel is?” another girl skeptically asked the boy next to her.
“A bildungsroman, eh?” the English teacher asked, shocked that anyone so young could grasp a term so advanced and frankly, so hard to pronounce, “and why do you think that it’s a bildungsroman?”
“Why, because I am Bildungsroman Billy, and no coming-of-age story can sneak past me!”
The class oohed and aahed and listened intently as Billy explained more about Holden Caulfield and how the character became progressively more mature as he gallivanted around New York City learning about sex, friendship, kinship, and adulthood. The teacher was in awe, too. Billy had completely derailed her lesson plan and spoiled most of the discussion points that she wanted the class to engage in.
When he finished his profound assessment of the novel, the teacher had no choice but to dismiss the class thirty minutes early. Billy had, quite simply, covered the entire lesson that the teacher had so painstakingly put together the night before. The class cried tears of joy and cheered raucously as they hoisted Bildungsroman Billy over their heads and ran off to start their recess at an unprecedentedly early time.
Throughout the subsequent years, though, things weren’t so simple for Bildungsroman Billy.
“I believe that this math problem is a bildungsroman,” Billy pronounced one morning in trigonometry class after a particularly bad night of sleep. He’d been up late thinking about himself and how his peers perceived him and his distinct and age-defying ability to interpret literature. If a novel was written about him, he wondered how his character would be portrayed.
The math teacher stopped writing on the board and looked back at Billy. “A what? How on earth is this math problem a bildungsroman?”
“Well, because I’m Bildungsroman Billy, and, and…” Billy trailed off, feeling less sure of himself than ever before.
Another time, midway through a volleyball match in gym class, Billy missed the ball and desperately tried to suggest that the physical education teacher’s life was a bildungsroman and that it hadn’t yet reached its peak. The teacher, naturally, didn’t appreciate this rash characterization and gave Billy detention.
“Don’t worry about it, Billy,” a classmate said after gym class in an effort to console him.
“Yeah, don’t sweat it, Double B— [Double B was a popular nickname assigned to Billy for those who could not pronounce Bildungsroman or just didn’t feel like saying it]— , mistakes happen” another peer reiterated.
But, before long, it wasn’t just the teachers who started to get fed up with Bildungsroman Billy. It seemed that everywhere he went, Billy would try to equate something to a bildungsroman.
At Chipotle, “this burrito bowl…”
In Old Navy, “these graphic T-Shirts…”
In bed with his girlfriend, “this fellatio…”
He was a one trick pony, and he was becoming insufferable to everyone around him.
Soon after losing the good graces of his friends and teachers, Billy went off to college in New York City— a fitting next chapter for the boy who garnered so much popularity for his astute interpretation of a somewhat similar journey taken by Holden Caulfield. On the first day of his Introduction to Creative Writing class, he sat next to a beautiful girl eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As soon as the class began to discuss the poem that the professor had asked them to read for the day, the girl’s hand shot up.
“I believe that this poem used a lot of juxtapositions in order to highlight a few key differences that the author wanted the reader to hone in on.”
“Juxtapositions, huh, and how do you know that there are juxtapositions in this poem?” the professor asked.
“Well, because I am Juxtaposition Julie, and no presentation of two unlike images meant to have a stark, contrasting effect can ever get past me!”
As the semester carried on, the pair grew closer. And, even though Bildungsroman Billy had to mature significantly in order to handle the more intense relationship that the duo entered into, and, even though Juxtaposition Julie usually dated people strikingly different from Bildungsroman Billy, the two still found a way to love and support each other. And, in the end, isn’t that what they had both been learning about this whole time?