A subtle gag gift can provide more bang for the buck than the obvious ones, especially if the recipient proves careless. As anyone who knows me will attest, my middle initial “c” might as well stand for “careless.” And my Christmas t-shirt represents only the latest in a long string of examples.
My brother knows I’m married to a Catholic and that I live in a predominantly Christian community. Consequently, he loves making “fish out of water” jokes concerning a Jew residing in the Deep South. He occasionally sends me gag gifts on the theme as well. For instance, one year, Frank delivered a Jesus action figure “so you can have proper company when you’re not in church.” And this past December, he sent me a t-shirt “for Christmas,” together with a note suggesting that the apparel “should help you fit in better with your neighbors at midnight mass.”
At a cursory glance, the t-shirt seems inoffensive. It’s comprised of red cotton imprinted on the chest with what appears to be a standard holiday motif of snowflakes and reindeer. Presuming my brother had limited his gag to the idea of a Jew wearing Christmas-themed apparel, I didn’t bother examining the item closely when I received it, or when I decided to wear it today. Another lesson learned, I guess.
I had my weekly mentoring session with Ernie this morning. Like always, I went to his classroom to retrieve him. When I arrived, his teacher signaled to me. I walked over to hear what she wanted.
Before she’d finished her first sentence, a boy standing beside her pointed to my chest and blurted out: “Hey, what’re those reindeer doing?” I’m sure Ms. McDaniel would’ve chastised the lad for interrupting, if his observation hadn’t led her to scrutinize my holiday shirt as well. Rather than reprimand her student, she gasped and read me the riot act instead, commencing with: “For God’s sake, don’t you know this is an elementary school?!”
Of course I knew it was an elementary school. What I didn’t realize, until I found a mirror, was: the “standard holiday theme” on my t-shirt featured reindeer fucking.