I was rummaging through an old box of pictures and useless memorabilia yesterday and found my senior year report cards. Yes, I had two of them — one for the regular school year and one for summer school, which I had to attend in order to get my diploma signed by the school system superintendent. I flunked English and, unless I made up for it, I wasn’t going to graduate. Oh the humility.
Father Damien, my English teacher, never liked me anyway. I think this was mostly because I wasn’t Catholic and he considered me a heathen, and also because I was dumb as a sack of sinkers when it came to the queen’s English.
I tried to tell him I was from Belleville Bluff, and everybody on said bluff knew what I was saying, so that was good enough for me.
I never could get him to understand that when I said “peppa,” I could be referring to “black peppa” or I could be referring to the “newspeppa.”
He never could get a handle on my “crackerese.” I thought “I sho ain’t know” packed more of a punch than “I haven’t the slightest idea.”
I read that people on the highest rungs of the sophistication ladder consider words like biggety and yankeefied unacceptable in today’s language. I would agree wholeheartedly were it not for the fact that Father Damien was a biggety, yankeefied priest who considered me a yahoo. I know this because he told me so on a regular basis.
Well, after a regular school year and a summer school session, I finally passed senior English with a glorious “D” and became a bonafide high-school graduate. I had a class ring but accidentally tossed it overboard while throwing a cast net.
I enrolled in college but that didn’t pan out because they actually want the students to learn, and I already knew it all. So I joined a rock-and-roll band. I was in heaven because these people spoke my language: “Oom boppa mau mau. Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom. Tutti fruiti aww Rudy.”
Now even I don’t know what that means, but it was good enough to get me a girlfriend. And after a short while, she became my wife.
Oh, my troubles were just beginning because she insisted on getting a college education and using me as a guinea pig. Her degree was in psychology and her graduate program required her to test somebody. Guess who she chose?
I should have listened to my grandaddy Bob. He always said, “Don’t let her learn to read or she’ll think she’s as smart as you are.”
The following is a sample of the two-hour test she administered.
Question: If a bluebird and a red bird hit the windshield of a car at the same time, what color would the guts be? My answer: I sho ain’t know. But bird poop always has a little speck of white in it.
Q: If Johnny takes a shower every day of the week, how many wash cloths will he use in a month?
My answer: I sho ain’t know. But when it comes to wash cloths, you soap it up, then you rinse it out, then you hang it up to dry. So I said, “One should last till it wears out.”
Question: If a man is driving his car west and he wants to go north, which way should he turn?
My answer: I sho ain’t know, but three lefts ought to do it.
Question: If a shrimp dinner is $14.95 plus 6 percent tax, how much should you tip the waitress?
My answer: I ain’t got no money.
She says, “That’s a double negative.”
I say, “Well then, what’s a double positive?”
She says, “There’s no such thing as a double positive.”
I say, “Yeah, right.”
You’ll get that later on.
Well, after two grueling hours of testing, my paper was graded, and my wife has treated me differently ever since. She won’t give me the results because she says she refuses to use the “R word,” but she has classified me as “mildly mentally deficient” and no longer lets me own sharp objects.
Well, if Father Damien wasn’t dead of old age and I wasn’t afraid of going to hell for talking bad about a priest, I would march right into his office and throw a copy of my first book, “Hogan’s Boat,” down on his desk and when he reached for it, I would throw a copy of my second book, “Buster Fuzzwell,” on top of it and politely say, “Now who’s yo English-flunking daddy?”
My second novel, “Buster Fuzzwell,” recently was released and I’m happy to say it’s possible to write a book without having the slightest idea of what a preposition is, much less a double entendre or typographical error.
“Honey, come look and see if my participle looks like it’s dangling.”
Vic Waters lives in Darien.