Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Don't Get Fooled Again
I have no April Fool’s post. I’m not one for practical jokes…maybe because my early life was so filled with uncertainty and crazy that I didn’t really get most pranks. (You’ve got to have a base of normal to play against…) Anyway, I was talking on the phone last night and recalled this TRUE STORY:
As I’ve mentioned before, my family moved a lot. No, we weren’t on the lam or a military family…my parents were misguided East Coast intellectuals who thought they could live off the land and be pioneers. Plus my dad’s first offer to teach was in Oklahoma. We lived there for four years and in that time I went to three different schools in three different towns. I spent two years going to a reservation school, where my parents thought it would be good for us to live like homesteaders on the edge of a reservation. My brother and I got beaten up every day for two years, with breaks (of course) for summer. It was really, really hard. When I saw Sherman Alexie speak late last year, he said, “The rule on the reservation is you never hit a girl…unless she makes you mad.” After to listening to him for a few short hours, my entire stint on the rez was re-framed and I saw that it wasn’t about me or my brother being singled out, it was a culture of desperation and violence that we stumbled into. Okay, it was also a little about us being the white kids, too.
Anyway, I was profoundly gullible as a kid. Just way too trusting. (Am I still? I dunno. You tell me.) Two points of evidence to support this claim:
1. Everyday at the reservation school we ate the same lunch: an orange-colored cheese stick, black-eyed peas, white rice with a spoonful of white sugar on top and some kind of canned fruit. Every day. And every day, the same girl in my class would pick up my cheese stick and say, “Guess where it’s gonna break and you can have mine AND yours. If I guess, though, I get to eat both.” Then I’d guess, and what d’ya know? Every day I got it wrong. She must’ve really been hungry or really loved government cheese.
2. At the school after the rez school, they had a campaign to “Send A Mouse to College.” It had a poster with a super cute little mouse wearing a mortarboard. We saved change to bring to school to…....wait for it…....buy lab rats for the American Cancer Society. “Send a Mouse to College” sounds so much better than “Give a Mouse a Metastasized Tumor and a Smoker’s Hack.” Anyway, I was pretty young (7? 8?) and I actually thought mice would go to college. I’m not sure what I thought they’d do there…maybe run mazes and eat orange-colored cheese sticks? When my dad told me what the money was really going to be used for, I was really upset. I cried, “Are you kidding me? They don’t even get the hats?!”
Here’s hoping that this April Fools’ Day no one takes your cheese and you get to wear your super cool hat. In the words of our exalted leader, “Fool me once, shame on …fool me twi…fool fool…uhh..don’t get fooled again.”