Of Suffering and Idiots
by Alan Berecka

All for one and one for all - Alexandre Dumas

As a kid I could never understand why
my father went ballistic when my Uncle Ben
said something stupid. Everyone knew Ben
was an idiot, a good man of sorts, but limited
at best. In his clumsy attempts to impress,
Ben flashed his profound ignorance. The fact
that he dropped out in the third grade never
kept him from claiming that he had aced
calculus. Once when Ben overheard my aunt
and mother commiserating about that time
of month, he bragged as a kid on the farm
he had ridden a menstruation cycle
without training wheels before he had turned
six. Everyone laughed, but my father fumed.
He screamed, “Ben, you talk like a guy
with a paper asshole!” My wounded uncle
wept, my mother screamed, “Albert!
and the rest of us sat there laughing,
wondering, “What the hell is a paper asshole?”

Today in a meeting, a Psych professor
who is long on ego and short on brains
was holding our pointless committee hostage
yet again with his mindless prattling,
but when he said, “…and I for one,”
the inane phrase sparked a rage
so hot in my core that it fried the filter
that normally sits between my mouth
and brain, and I found myself barking,
“And I for one! What are you, some kind
of schizophrenic musketeer?” The virgin silence
slowly filled with the titters of a few committee
members, while others stared at our table top,
as if they hoped the etiquette for exiting
the awkward situation I had caused
could be found in its fake veneer.
The prattling pedant blushed and hushed,
then he gave me that hurt—You’re a real
asshole kind of look. And I thought, “Touché,
d'Artagnan, but at least I’m not a paper one.”


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