We’re not in fourth grade anymore


It’s the title of a cable TV show, for fuck’s sake. And yet, I got hauled into the principal’s office for saying it to a classmate during a heated game of Red Rover back in fourth grade.

Now, I’d heard Red Skelton say it a gazillion times on his television program. AT LEAST a gazillion times. So I thought nothing of saying “Well, you’re standing there LIKE A JACKASS” to whoever it was holding up the game, out there on the playground. No sooner had I done so than [name redacted] took off for the school, to tell on me. She’d had it in for me ever since I started school. Something about my skipping first grade and having a pass to the fourth grade classroom so I could get books that I’d enjoy had gotten under her skin, or into her craw, or crawled up her asshole, and she was going to make SURE I got what was coming to me for saying THAT WORD.

After recess, the teacher (who shall remain nameless but I’m sure she’s dead by now anyway, the old bitch) took me by the arm (HARD! She left marks!) and steered me away from the door so she could “have a word with me” about my swearing. Swearing? RED FUCKING SKELTON SAYS THAT WORD EVERY WEEK! AND MY FOLKS LOVE HIM! I didn’t say that, though. I was in enough trouble as it was.

And it got worse when the bus dropped me off. Mom informed me that she’d gotten a call from the teacher, and wanted to know why I swore.

“I DID NOT SWEAR!” I knew I hadn’t. I KNEW that wasn’t a swear word. RED FUCKING SKELTON SAYS IT! I didn’t tell Mom what I’d said, though. Fourth-grade me figured I’d get in trouble if I did, so I simply maintained what I knew was my innocence, and said [name redacted] must have heard wrong or something and besides that bitch had it in for me anyway. Well, okay. I did NOT tell Mom that last part. Better part of valor and all that shit.

So, Dad went down to the school the next day and stood up for me to the principal. He pounded on the desk (so I have been told) and said emphatically (because pounding on the desk means emphasis) “My daughter does not swear!”


Obviously, things are different now. Still, I was in college before I said so much as “hell no” in front of my parents. Even now, I’m careful; Dad doesn’t approve of strong language.

Don’t tell him I’m here, okay? Thanks.