After reclining into his comfortably-sticky pleather lounging chair, local cog Phinzend K. Woldebomm, age 62, asked his spawn's spawn to gather closer so he could tell them a story. “Come closer, spawn of my spawn,” Phinzend said with due gravitas. “And let me tell you about my humble beginnings.” The docile and obedient children approached on quietly-shuffling feet, their noses wet with snot, their eyes moist with apprehension. “That's about close enough,” the man said, holding up his right hand when the youngster had approached to within arm's reach. “Now, where was I. Oh right – the beginning.”
Born third out of a total of six to Daroll and Brunhilda Woldebomm of Wichita, Kansas, Phinzend grew up largely unnoticed, a middle child whose older siblings excelled at their schooling and whose younger twin brothers were so fussy and poorly-behaved as to take up nearly all of their mother's time. In hopes of garnering some paternal attention he dedicated his young adulthood to the study of all things related to wallpaper, in which industry his father was employed; the patriarch, however, having lost the battle for his wife's attentions to their two youngest sons, chose to follow professional racecar driving, preferring to frequent with some of his buddies a bar near a feed-mill half of the way home from their work. Phinzend, in turn, was the only kid in his class whose family missed his high-school graduation; he spent a good forty minutes in a Denny's parking-lot trying to get a picture of himself throwing his mortar-board into the air and smiling without it looking as if he had taken the photo himself. Undeterred, he was accepted to the interior compliance program at the College for Domestic Sciences of Western Kansas, which specializes in wallpapers, floor-coverings, paint-shade-matching, and the like.
Sacrificing at least two college friendships and one potential romance in his drive to master the intricacies of wallpaper – its science and secrets, even its scent – young Woldebomm graduated early in hopes of spending as much time with his father as possible, who was approaching his mid-sixties and thinking about retirement. The young man applied for and was accepted as a customer service representative at Gooseneck Interior Coatings & Coverings, where his father, Daroll, also worked. Contrary to years of hopes and dreams, however, old man Woldebomm showed just as much interest in his son as he had while the boy was growing up – zero. In fact, Daroll went out of his way to ostracize his middle child, playing pranks on him and bad-mouthing him in front of his drinking-colleagues, at one point inviting him to tour the big industrial printers and then locking him in an uninsulated storage shed for four hours during the middle of winter. Finally accepting his lot in life, Phinzend latched onto and, after a courtship of but seven months, married Bristol Anne Woldebomm, née Trinkle, daughter of the man who owned Gooseneck. Soon after getting pregnant with their first child, Bristol Anne began to exhibit bossy and overbearing tendencies and soon adopted the habit of ignoring Phinzend, focusing most of her time on watching television by herself and eating bags of potato chips on the bed in the back of their modest trailer.
“And so, my young munch-kins,” Phinzend said while nudging with his foot the smaller of his grand-children back into wakefulness, as they had fallen asleep. “That is my life's story. Bristol Anne and I had three more children before she left me for that Baptist minister, and, well, one of them – Daroll Jr. – had you all. And when your daddy's early-onset shingles gets to acting up, he drops you off here, with me. Circle of life, I guess.”
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