The Joke's On Me
“I’ve got a real treat in store for you this weekend !” Fitzsimons, Burton . Local TV Weather man, 10/9/09
She says the joke is on me.
I say the joke is on her.
I said I have no opinion about that
Well, we’ll just have to wait and confer. Simon, Paul “Fat Charlie the Archangel “
Sometimes the joke is on you. This weekend was heralded by the “experts” in weather prognostication as the “perfect fall weekend”, which it may have been if you live in say, Minsk. But here in God’s country we were looking for sunshine and 75 degrees. It is now Sunday at 1:45 and we are still looking. What we are seeing is weather in the high fifties and constant drizzle, sometimes turning into real rain. The sky has been the color of an aircraft carrier and it feels like those days you had as a kid when you would be lucky to be stuck indoors with a cold. No recess at school, just eraser tag. Yes, that’s it, it’s an eraser tag day.
I don’t know if the great game of eraser tag is still played. Probably not, it was a dangerous game. The rules required two elementary school students to stand back to back at the schoolroom’s chalkboard with a chalk eraser on each head. At a signal from the teacher, both students took off and the student getting all the way around the room with their eraser still on their head was the winner. Usually the linoleum floor was slippery from the students tracking in mud of dirt and wild spills were often the rule, especially if you were trying to make up time.
The best eraser tag player I ever saw was Bobby Smith. Bobby had the advantage of having the perfect flat top that seemed to allow the eraser to stick to his head. He was not fast, but he chugged around the room at a pretty good clip, arms pumping for balance, lowering his head and shoulders to give him a low center of gravity. I never saw him lose. If there was a Hall of Fame for eraser tag, Bobby would have been its Babe Ruth. If the Babe had had red hair and attention deficit syndrome.
I guess Bobby had ADS. Looking back I often wonder if I had been put in an entire class of ADS sufferers. I have mentioned before that, in the fifth grade, Bobby and I were unceremoniously hauled out of class and made to repeat the standard achievement tests. It turned out after the second tests came back that neither of us was as stupid as several higher ups had thought, but were spectacular underachievers. We had the scores to prove it. Lack of brain was not our problem, lack of interest and lack of patience was. But whatever causes you to make a 70 on a Geography test, it is still a D. If anything, the underachiever was more looked down upon than the simpleton (of which there were plenty)in my class. By the time we reached 8th grade or so, our laziness unimpaired by the certain knowledge that we were not dumb, Bobby and I were spending a lot of time in summer school together. So, as smart as we figured we were, the joke was on us.
Bobby turned out to be a pretty good trumpet player and ended up at a different high school than me for music reasons. I lost track of Bobby after that but heard that he had been drafted and ended up a thirty year man in the Army. I never could see Bobby in the Army. I thought that in drafting Bobby the joke was on the Selective Service system. How were they going to get him up in the morning, how were they going to get him to make his bed, clean his gun, find his way back to camp ? What do you do with a fellow whose greatest physical skills require an eraser on the head ? Most importantly, what can the army make of a guy with that sweet a disposition ? I heard they made him a sergeant. Probably the only sergeant in the history of the United States Army who never raised his voice.
Bobby, I hope you are out there somewhere, living on the soldiers pension, sleeping late and, all in all living the kind of life that you always wanted. I bet that you are. I hope I see you again someday, if not in this life, than the next. There’s a special place in heaven for us underachievers. A place where a 70 on a Geography test is as good as a 95.At least I hope that’s the case. That’s the final joke old friend. We will see who it is on.