Thursday, May 30, 2024

My Adolescent Expertise


As I recall, they pulled me out of class one day at the state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT).

I was worried that I did something wrong. But what?

“Miss Joyce wants to see you in her office,” I was told. But what could I have possibly done wrong that would make them send me to  Miss Joyce’s office? Miss Joyce was the head of recreation. Her office was right next to the gym.

I was escorted to Miss Joyce’s office. She greeted me with a big smile. “Its so great to see you!” she said to me. And then she said, “I sent for you because I’m going to a costume party. My costume is going to be Poland.” She said she wanted to cover her costume, which would be a hunk of papier mache shaped like the country of Poland, with Polack jokes. “I understand that you know a lot of Polack jokes,” Miss Joyce said. “Can you tell  me some?”

 For those of you who weren’t around back then, there was a genre of jokes known as Polack jokes. And the point of each of these jokes was to illustrate how incredibly stupid all Polish people were supposed to be.

And it’s true that I had a million Polack jokes in my repertoire and I told them every chance I got. This was my adolescent expertise. I remember some of my Polack jokes  but I won’t tell them  anyway because they’re all pretty dumb. But on that day I regaled Miss Joyce with Polack jokes and she took copious notes. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t come through for her that day. Would I have been punished? Maybe I would’ve been restricted to my room until I came up with some good Polack jokes.

As far as I know, my encounter with Mis Joyce was not video taped or recorded for posterity in any way. I’m grateful for that. That was a simpler time when a guy could make jokes about how incredibly stupid all Polish people are and get a big laugh. But now I would be ostracized, as if I was helping Miss Joyce put on black face.

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