I went to school with a kid named Phil McCracken. I am a big fan of juvenile humor, so you can see why I love this title. Recently I was informed that there’s a skateboarder in England who is gaining popularity with the birth name Ash Hall. That’s right. There’s an Ash Hall skater running around jolly ole England shitting on everything. Oh, how my heart sang when I heard about him. I emailed my friend Ben at the UK skate bible Sidewalk in ALL CAPS insisting that he couldn’t possibly be my friend if he’d hide the UK’s Ash Hall from me. I told him how I wanted to speak to this Ash Hall, get all inside this Ash Hall. He responded confused, unsure what I meant. I shot back, “THE KID’S PARENTS NAMED HIM ASSHOLE!! YOU DON’T THINK THAT’S A PERSON OF INTEREST TO ME???” “Oh, I see,” he replied, unamused. Turns out that something was lost in the translation, since the UK refers to the tushy as arse and not ass. And so this Ash Hall has managed to avoid a lifetime of asshole jokes! But no more. He and I are going to become friends, and I am going to make up for his non-English-speaking countrymen who couldn’t put two and two together.
As a child I was called Chris Piss. The taunting backfired. I thought it was a hilarious moniker. To the disdain of my teachers, I began to sign my tests and homework Chris Piss. I gave my other classmates similarly crude nicknames. Their reactions were not as accepting and entertained as my own.
In high school—my second high school, that is, after I was removed from my first for putting my algebra teacher in the hospital by breaking her neck (total accident)—I was placed in a Catholic school for a year where the girls wore polyester skirts and form-fitting white button-up shirts. Not even the baggiest of cardigans could hide the fat rolls that were tucked into those blouses. There was one girl in history class named Sue who shimmied like Jello at all points below the chin. She looked like a bowl of soup ready to spill out at any moment. So I sat beside SUE from September to June, whispering the word SOUP to her from 10:15 AM to 11 AM Monday through Friday, except on holidays. Soup. No one heard me but her. It was not for the class’s amusement, just my own. Soup. She’d beg the teacher to make me stop, but no one else had heard me. Soup. So no one could corroborate her story. Soup. Not to mention I excelled in history. Soup. Especially the chapters dealing with 1939 to 1945. Soup. Did you know when given the chance to choose my home phone number, I picked the one ending in 1942, soup, because it was the year of the Battle of Midway? Soup. Recently at a carnival in my hometown I saw her and she looked fantastic. I’d like to think my saying Soup to her aided in her transformation. She came up to me, in front of my wife and child, and unleashed nearly 20 years of pent-up rage. How she hates me, hates the mention of the word soup, etc., blah blah, etc. I smiled politely, apologized—not for what I’d done, but for not remembering who she was or what she was talking about. It devastated her that it meant nothing to me (although I did remember clear as day). As she turned and went off crying, I called out one last time, “SOUP!” She looked back as if she were going to vomit. I merely smiled again and waved.
More Chris can be found at Chrisnieratko.com and @Nieratko on Twitter.