School started here in Georgia this week. Though it’s been more than twenty years since I last sat in a classroom, I still managed to get myself in trouble with a teacher. I learned of the hot water I’m in this afternoon when my irate sister-in-law Gina demanded to know why I’d called her kid’s kindergarten teacher a “prick.”
Incredulously, I asked her: “Why would I call him a prick? I don’t even know the guy.”
Well I asked, and Gina answered with volume. According to her, inquisitive Franco had asked his new teacher, Mr. Peterson, where he was from. Mr. Peterson explained how he’d been born in the Czech Republic in the City of Prague. At that news Franco’s ears perked up. Without missing a beat he blurted: “You’re a real prick, Mr. Peterson.”
Understandably taken aback, the educator asked his youthful student why the lad would think to call him such a name. And that’s when Franco fingered me, telling the man: “My Uncle Richard says you’re a prick.”
For the record, I never called Mr. Peterson a “prick” or any other pejorative term. I will concede, however, that from a certain perspective one might draw such a conclusion.
You see, a couple of weeks ago Sophia agreed to watch Franco at our house for a while. The doorbell rang during his stay and, unbeknownst to me, he hovered at my side when I answered it. To my regret (regret at opening the door that is), our visitor happened to be a jackass who lives down the street. He’d stopped by so he could falsely accuse me – for the hundredth time – of failing to pick up my dog’s poop when we walk.
As I ushered the jackass off, after yet again proclaiming my innocence, I thought to myself: what a prick!
The next thing I knew, I felt a small hand tugging on my shorts and heard a squeaky voice ask: “Uncle Richard, what’s a prick?”
Once more my annoying habit of unknowingly voicing my innermost thoughts had betrayed me. I realized I’d need to say something to the child. But ever since another sister-in-law had yelled at me for truthfully answering her teenage son’s drug use questions, I also knew I’d have to lie. Thinking quickly, I offered a definition so improbable (I believed) that he’d never have cause to employ it: “Franco, a prick is what you call someone who comes from a place called ‘Prague.’”