Anything he heard came back out again, sometimes for days on end.
If something struck him as particularly funny or interesting, you would hear it for months.
You had to be real careful of what you said around him.
If something embarrassing came out of his mouth, you had to deny that you had said it in the same way you might deny being the person who farted.
Often Lamont would change your statement just enough after while to let you off the hook; he would drop letters or even whole words, still keeping the tone and cadence of your speech perfectly but rendering what he was actually saying indecipherable.
Lamont's bus drivers, two grandma-like African American women, had a terrible time getting him off the bus.
You could not move the mountain.
You had to use your wits.
Luckily, Lamont had a weakness.
Everyday, he brought in a cassette tape from home.
It was his security blanket, his totem against all the powers of darkness and education.
If you managed to procure that tape, you held dominion over Lamont; he would follow you until the end of time.
My secret method for getting Lamont off the bus:
All the way to the classroom I would run, the pounding step of death ever at my back.
The spit of threats, the pleading for tapes, the mad mix of echolalic chorus and lucid rage; and if those fingers like King-size 3 Musketeers were to close around my body.......
Out, out, the light....
But I always made it, and once in class, I would return his Precious.
Without the dangerous but effective tape method, Lamont would only move when Lamont wanted to.
You could tell when someone had been strongly encouraging Lamont to do something, because he would
spend all day bellowing:
We shared building space with a daycare, a preschool, and a charter school.
I would lead Lamont through the halls, one of his hands on my shoulder, past little lines of children, and he would be barking that out.
Each word of the pronouncement he struck with particular emphasis, leaving enough space between the words to let them stand on their own.
"MOVE THAT BIG BUTT!"
As the day wore on, he would start dropping letters.
Sometimes his echolalia was like clues to a greater mystery.
One day, he said:
The next day:
And day number three:
Yes, good old Lamont had flushed one of his precious cassetes down his parents toilet.
My lasting memory of Lamont, though, is from when I was sitting at the computer during my lunch break.
I was intently buying things on ebay when I felt a breeze and sensed movement behind me.
Only a few inches from my back stood Lamont.
He had lifted his shirt halfway up his belly and was shimmying just enough to get some waves to ripple across his girth.
"Look at all that jelly," he mumbled.
"Look at all that jelly."
On a completely unrelated note, the very talented Stephanie at Clay Baboons has immortalized me in clay!
She said she ran out of red clay, so she could not make me as fat as I really am.
On the topic of off-topic things, THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to Gweenbrick!
You are so awesome and generous!