What I learned In First Grade; What Punishment Ensued


So. I’ve got the whole crew harvesting tomatoes this weekend. It has gotten too hot for any new fruit to set on our full-size varieties, and the extreme 100-degree days are making their skins tougher than boot leather. This is the harvest time when we pick for sun dried tomatoes and also to roast, and smoke them. This is the off-season for Streaker Jones’ magic mushroom business, so we use his big commercial drying operations. All of the smoking is done here on the ranch.

From this point forward, only the smaller varieties will be much good for eating uncooked. The remaining large types will be allowed to almost over-ripen for making canned tomatoes. The extra ripening adds a little extra sugar and taste that holds up under canning.

Holy shit, I love tomatoes. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! Yum-and-kiss-your-sister-yum!

Yesterday I made a comment here about something I learned in First Grade. I mentioned learning the N-word as a describer for a person with black skin, and how I took it home with me and put it to use. I can still shut my eyes and conger-up the taste of lye soap. Lye soap mouthwash was a routine part of my personal hygiene processes until I entered high school.

One of the many side effects of ADHD and its little sister, ADD, is the inability to filter inappropriate thoughts from your brain and remove them from verbal communication. As a kid I likely suffered the effects from my ADHD the most due to this particular side effect. And all of the advice on how to avoid the problem only fueled it.

“Think before you speak, Butcher,” my school teacher mother would advise me. Mother refused to call me Mooner until, same as the lye soap dealie, until I entered high school. Called me by my quite sophisticated given name, Butcher. Don’t even ask, because it’s in the fucking book.

Gram would say to me, she’d say, “Oh fer fucksakes, Mooner, you disruptive little shit. Why’nt ya put yer thinkin’ cap on afore ya open yer yapper?”

Nothing much was known about ADHD when I was a kid. In fact, I don’t think it was even invented until the early 1980’s. One of my sons has it and we learned of it together at his school-enforced visit to a state-sponsored psychiatrist. The doctor was a snotty little prick with a pinched-up face and really bad breath. Bad tooth breath.

Look, let me give some advice to you. Telling an ADHD sufferer to think more, or more carefully, before speaking is like telling a fireman to reduce the flames of a house fire with a few hundred gallons of jet fuel. It’s the thinking that sparks the inappropriate comments.

Better to say, “Stop thinking before you open your big yap.” That way you can limit the possibilities to a minimum few offensive remarks slipping through my lips. If I have but maybe six or seven different thoughts rolling around rather than my typical fifteen, the risk of offensive speech patterns is reduced by half.

Now I’m digressing, but you get it, right? Anyway, I made my comment yesterday about learning the N-word and that sparked Squatlo to tell me about learning to say the word “fuck” his early days of school. He got his little six-year-old ass blistered for its use when he got home.

Me, fuck was one of the first words I learned. One of the first words I heard since it was used as an exclamation upon my birthing. Again, in the book and, therefore, off limits for now.

I can hardly wait to get that fucking book into print. We’re working on the cover and all of the promotional bullshit to go along with it. I hate having big chunks of my life off limits. But I was never punished for using swear words at home. School was a different fucking bag of worms, but I never caught any shit at home for saying shit. Or fuck or hell or damn. Mother would do that deep sigh shit you get from martyrs around the world, but I was never punished for imitating my elders’ speech.

Anyway, Squatlo’s comment caused me to wonder what other folks’ experiences were like with the early days of First Grade. Tell us your stories. I’ll bet there’s some doozies out there. Come on Reckmonster and Thundercat-32. I can hardly wait.

Drink Carta Blanca beer responsibly, and come back manana, y’all.

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