Dave was telling me about a phone conversation he had just had with a parent. It was one of those interminable ones that we often have with a mother from Guyana or Jamaica where they repeat things over and over, ignoring your comments and suggestions until you stop talking all together and just pray for an quick end.
“He spoke this really thick, like, pidgin English,” said Dave, “like ‘He midda mudda. He midda mudda.’ Like that. And after saying ‘Excuse me?’ for the hundreth time, ‘What was that word?’ I just gave up. He was saying something about his son misses his mother, she’s back in Guyana and isn’t allowed in the country for like six years, and he’s crying every day, ‘I want to see my mom!’ And look, I understand, I wanted to cry too! The kid can’t see his mom for God’s sake! But then he says something about writing a letter to the Guyanese Embassy, and I’m like, ‘Wooah! (then imitating the kids) Whah?! Whah happen? What kind of letter?’ I don’t know how to do these things. I mean would I use Patriot High letterhead? ‘Dear Guyanese Embassy..’ And then the mom is telling him that if he can get enough people to write letters then…” Dave trailed off with a big sigh.
“Dave!” I cried out, trying to fuck with him. “You gotta do somethin’! This kid’s countin’ on you!”
“Look I told him I’d write the letter. Okay? But I don’t understand a single thing the man says. So I told him to come in tomorrow and I will see what I can do.”
The next day, I hear the secretary calling for Dave over the radio, “Pick-it-up Dean Dave. There’s a parent heah ta see you in tha awfice. …kscchhhh”
“Oh man, it’s him!” said Dave.
“You’re not gonna talk to him?” I asked.
Dave whined, “Noooooo. I can’t understand a thing he saaays. And I’m not “on” right now. I gotta go, man. I’m getting lunch.”
So the father met with Dean Jake instead. After a long while, Jake comes into where Dave and I are hanging out and announces, “AHHEE COULDN’T UNDASTAND A WORD HE WAS SAYING!”
“That’s what I told Pistol!” said Dave. “Guyanese!”
“Okay, he’s Guyanese,” said Jake. “But he’s from the DEEP, BACKWOODS of Guyana! Listen, I went out drinking last night.” Jake has an anecdote for every situation. “When I got home I think I had another beer, I watched the post-game, I was late for work today, didn’t take a showah. You know. A little hair gel, some powdah down my ass, and that’s it. STILL! After all that, I FEEL cleaner than that guy looked!”
I laughed out loud and Jake gave me a sly look. “You didn’t know where I was going with that at first, did ya Pistol?” Then he made his concluding statement, “Oh, and I had NO IDEA what he wanted.”
“Did he start crying?” said Dave. “Because he gets to that point eventually, that guy. He starts to get a little teary-eyed.”
Jake looked into the distance as he tried to recall the man’s emotional state, “He… he was-”
“Drooling from the mouth?” I added.
“Hahaa!” cackled Francesca from across the office.
Look, I realize that it’s not funny that a kid can’t see his mom for six years. But when we’re served lemons, we squeeze them onto people’s cuts and we laugh. We have no other choice. We have to laugh at something.