I dressed as clown for the school costume party. I did not want to be a clown. I wanted to be a cowboy, Roy Rogers, or Hopalong Cassidy. I would’ve even been satisfied to be a run-of-the-mill Cherokee warrior. Anything but a role that involved the use of my mother’s face make-up.
But the fates above made me a lowly jester that year. And so, while other boys in Mrs. Jeanie’s class were dressed up as comic book heroes and soldiers, I showed up with a Harpo horn, wearing a rainbow wig and rouge.
“Oh little Seanathan aren’t you cute,” Mrs. Jeanie said.
I hate that God-forsaken nickname, to this very day.
“Can you tell me a joke?” Mrs. Jeanie pinched my cheek. “You sweet little clown. Tell the class a joke.”
Mrs. Jeanie didn’t know it at the time, but I happened to have a knack for remembering jokes. A talent even.
My daddy used to tell elaborate jokes to his buddies while sipping from a longneck bottle. And while I had no idea what his jokes were a actually about, I remembered many of them word for word.
So, I launched into a story about a priest, a mule, and the farmer’s daughter. A real classic. Never before had lyrics of prose poured from my mouth with such eloquence. When I got to the punchline, the class of first-graders just blinked at me.
I was suspended for a week after that.