One would expect a person called Norm to conform to a norm, so it came as a surprise to me when I met someone called Norm whose conduct was anything but normal. Indeed, it was so far off what anybody might consider normal that I would happily sign an affidavit to the effect that Norm was absolutely bonkers.

“Norm,” I said to Norm, some little while after making his acquaintance, and having witnessed a plethora of oddities, “It seems to me that your parents, when naming you, chose whatever the nominal opposite of the mot juste is. Whatever possessed them to dub you Norm? Were you, perhaps, normal as a babe in arms, only latterly striking out in wild and unhinged directions?”

“Sigismund has unlatched his pig door,” said Norm, as he writhed within his straitjacket. You see what I mean? His reply made no sense whatsoever. He was a very trying companion. I am as loyal as the most loyal of puppies to my friends and acquaintances, but I think I might have broken things off with Norm, through sheer exasperation, were it not that I, too, was enswathed in a straitjacket, and shared with Norm the padded cell from which neither of us are ever likely to be released.


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