Today I want to tell you about a friend I had way back when I was just like you. I had to go to school, even when the weather was just right for skating or hiking. My mother never seemed to be really pleased with me because I kept making mistakes.
This friend, Ricky, was different.
He was one of those really rare kids born under a lucky star. At least it seemed that he was, because his astrological fate was never to make a mistake. All the stars and planets were lined up in this special once-time-only array and Ricky came into this world at just the moment that made him incapable of making a mistake.
He was so lucky.
Within minutes after he was born, his mom and a nurse were admiring him.
“Oh, he’s so handsome,” said his mother, “He looks just like his father.”
“But he has your eyes.” the nurse replied.
Just then Ricky turned his eyes and looked directly at the nurse.
“Miss, I assure you that these eyes are mine,” Ricky spoke with a little baby voice, but it was clear that he was speaking perfectly.
The nurse, Miss Melissa Google, turned and ran from the room. Ricky’s mom just smiled with pride.
Well, it didn’t take long for the word to get out that Ricky was born able to speak. Just about every minute he was awake from that moment on, Ricky was the center of attention.
When he was three months old he delivered an address concerning the complicated aspects of foreign relations between the United States and Russia. Somehow he was able to speak in English and Russian at the same time.
Ricky could not make a mistake.
Before long, Ricky was considered the leading authority on just about everything.
Just ask him a question and the right answer rolled out as if he were a talking encyclopaedia.
Well, he never had to go to school. But he got pretty lonely during the day with only doctors and scientists all around asking him these questions. That’s when his mom talked to my mom about getting me to spend some time with Ricky. I could be his friend. Well, that wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to spend my time, but by then Ricky was famous and part of me wanted to know what he was really like.
From summer of 1959 until October 1967 I saw Ricky almost every day and we’d sit and talk. Usually I’d tell him about my day and he’d just sit and listen. The only time he ever said anything was when he was asked a question.
He was always getting awards for solving problems that stumped the scientists. They would write down all their formulas and mathematical calculations and he would simply fill in the last line as if he were signing a letter.
Ricky is responsible for many common items in use today that simply did not exist without his mistake-free method.
Once I asked him to teach me how to be like him.
Ricky refused.
“That would be a mistake,” he said.
Well, I guess he knew that, all right.
In 1967 President Kennedy and the astronauts were working really hard to send a rocket to the moon with astronauts on it. In order for NASA to know what kind of supports to put on the rocket, they wanted to send a small atomic bomb up to the moon and set it off in order to measure the consistency of the moon’s surface.
Just at the last minute their computer crashed and they only had a few minutes to get the final launch numbers.
“Let’s call Ricky,” someone said.
I was there when the phone call came. In fact I’m the one who answered the phone.
I handed the phone to Ricky. In those days they all had wires.
He said a list of numbers about a mile long and then he hung up.
NASA fired the rocket and it went right where it was supposed to go. The bomb went off and the scientists all got the data they wanted.
It looked like another big triumph for Ricky.
But it wasn’t.
Ricky had supplied all the right numbers, but when the bomb went off, it shook the moon just enough to move it just a fraction of an inch from its orbit.
Of course, that changed the astrological make-up of the universe so that Ricky’s unique horoscope no longer was in play.
From that moment Ricky was just like a big fifteen year old baby. It fact, after that bomb went off on the moon it took Ricky two weeks just to learn to suck his thumb.
Ricky had never made a mistake, and that meant that Ricky had never learned anything.

But I learned something from knowing Ricky:
When you make a mistake, it only stays a mistake until you learn from it.
Once you learn from a mistake it has become a lesson. Mistakes are worthless until you turn them into lessons learned.
I never saw Ricky much after that. I guess he just faded back into my imagination.

Your friend, Robbie

Author's Bio: 

My background is eclectic in that I have considered my formal education as work and the various jobs I've had as primarily educational. My interest is centered in communication. It was with that in mind that I studied English and linguistics in college until I realized that verbal communiction is a wonderful tool for communicating on some levels, but that it is woefully inadequate for imparting meaning on other levels. For example, every part of a sailboat and evey action pertaining to each has a specific nomenclature without which succesful sailing would be nearly impossible. However, to communicate the impressions; abstract concepts; thoughts pertaining to the subjective, intimate processes that are actually the more essential aspects of our personalities, language fails. For that reason I have come to rely on art to attempt to show what I think and feel about that which is verbally inexpressible.