Three boys sit together during lunch, in the cafetorium (combination cafeteria and auditorium) at Center Township Elementary School, Monaca, PA, Wednesday, October 28, 1975:
Douglas: “Here’s a good joke. So this kid named Johnny goes home and says, he says, uh, ‘Mom! Mom! I was walking past the Giant Eagle, just minding my own business,’ he says, ‘just minding my business, when I saw this kid get hit by a car, on the butt!’ Ha ha. And the kid’s mom, uh, Johnny’s mom? Yeah, Johnny’s mom says, she says ‘No, Johnny—rectum.’ And Johnny, ha ha. Johnny says ‘Rectum? It nearly killed him!’ Ha ha ha!”
No one else laughs.
Tommy: “Man, you suck at tellin’ jokes!”
Douglas: “I thought I did a good job.”
Tommy: “Then you’re a fag. Who cares about all that Giant Eagle stuff? Get to the point: ‘Mom! I saw a kid get hit by a car, on the butt!’ No, say ‘ass’ instead—that’s funnier.”
Douglas: “My mom won’t let me swear.”
Tommy: “Then you’ll never be funny.”
Douglas: “Shut up, fatso.”
Ricky: “Say ‘ass,’ Doug-ass.”
Douglas: “Shut up.”
Tommy: “Say ‘ass,’ or you’re a fag and you can’t sit here no more.”
Douglas says nothing.
Tommy: “Say it. Say ‘ass.’ ”
Ricky: “Say it, fag.”
Tommy: “His mommy won’t let him.”
Ricky: “She’s a fag.”
Douglas, very loudly: “Ass! Ass! Ass! Ass!” Background conversation stops. “ASS ASS ASS ASS ASS SHIT!”
Applause and cheers from the other students, including Tommy. A teacher, Mr. Mullen, walks toward the table.
Mr. Mullen, to the cafetorium: “All right, everyone, knock it off.” To Douglas: “Could you come with me, young man?”
Douglas, trying not to look frightened: “No! You’re a FAG!”
Mr. Mullen grabs Douglas by the arm.
Douglas, as the teacher drags him away: “SHIT! SHIT SHIT SHIT!”
The other students watch them leave the cafetorium.
Tommy: “What a loser.”
Ricky: “Yeah. He coulda said ‘balls,’ too.”
Copyright © 2019 by David V. Matthews