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    Daniel Torday

    46. The Weightlifters

    By Daniel Torday

    When I was a kid my parents were best friends with a couple I didn’t like very much. George and Martha Klonfelder were the parents of Tyler Klonfelder, a kid at my school you couldn’t really be friends with. He was generous and smart but he’d had some kind of issue at birth and the toes of his left foot turned in like they were afraid of everything they faced, and he himself was so inward pointing that, even if I wanted to be, I wasn’t friends with him except when he came to our house with his parents.

    But that wasn’t why I didn’t like the Klonfelders. My reasons for disliking them weren’t rational. I didn’t like them because George and Martha were the names of a hippopotamus couple in a series of children’s books I loved as a toddler. It was like being friends with someone named Babar or Br’er Rabbit. The only other thing I disliked about George and Martha was that they were openly, deliberately in love. George was a baggy Sephardic man with a wide face and chubby hands whose Creator hadn’t exhaled the two breaths needed to fill him, and Martha was the most beautiful of all my parents’ friends. This made George’s devotion all the worse. He practiced chivalry like an overwrought Galahad, pulling out her seat and kissing her hand with raw earnestness. He kissed her forehead when she smiled and her cheek when she told a joke, and it all made me roll my eyes so often I gave myself headaches.

    Every year the Klonfelders came to our house after high holidays to break fast. Fall of the seventh grade was no different. Tyler and his parents brought the whitefish salad from the good deli on Reisterstown Road. Tyler and I sat on the couch watching Orioles base runners succumb to Andy Pettitte’s pick-off throws and I tried not to look at his balky foot. We were all sitting around spreading cream cheese on our bagels when a crash came from my father’s study. . . . Read More.

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