I recently had the privilege of speaking to my nephew Stephen’s first grade class in Nashville. About two months ago, they asked me to mail them postcards as I traveled the road doing comedy. They’re learning the states and are trying to get postcards from each one. I don’t know why he asked me-I know I travel a lot, but after I told him that the letters D.C. in Washington D.C. stood for “dazed and confused”, I figured I would be written off as a bad influence. Guess not. So I happily mailed him and his class a little note from each new place I visited over the past two and half months. And then I got to talk to them about the country. It was just a brief talk, but here’s how it went:

Miss Boyd: “Class, today we have a visitor. Please welcome Stephen’s uncle…Kevin.”
Me: “It’s Keith.”
Miss Boyd: “Right. Go ahead, Pete.”
Me: “Um…yeah, so…first grade, huh? Lots of reading and writing and what not. So…I travel around the country telling jokes. Stay in school, kids. Any questions?”
Some kid eating chapstick: “Can you tell us one of your jokes?”
Me: “Sure…um…okay, if America wants to stop the drug problem in this country, they should rename that drug Ecstasy. Call it something that’s gonna draw away interest. Something like…Old Milwaukee.”
Class: “…..”
Some kid nonchalantly rolling a bugger: “What’s your favorite state?”
Me: “Ooh, there are so many. But I would have to say…Alabama, because when I’m there I feel like a genius.”
Miss Boyd: “Well thank you for visiting us, Steve. Do you have any questions for us?”
Me: “Can I get a comp meal from the cafeteria?” (comics will laugh at that line if nobody else.)

I don’t want to say that I’m an uncle of bad influence or even a jackass uncle. Certain things just come out of my mouth because I enjoy using the smartass ability that God gave me. The Bible says we are to use the gifts God has provided, right? And if one of my gifts is responding to a stupid question (i.e. “Do you want to go see that new Vin Diesel movie?”) with a stupid response (i.e. “Sure…I like to see movies before they win the Academy Award for Best Picture of Crap.”), then so be it.

But honestly, although I would be somewhat flattered, I would hate to be the one at fault if any of my nephews emulated my smart-assedness. For example, if they repeated to their teachers any of the following statements that I have made within conversation:
“Fractions are for sissies who can’t round off.”
“Thomas Jefferson was irritable because he was married to Weezie. And that maid didn’t help matters any.”
“Off to the teacher’s lounge again, huh? Glug-glug-glug-glug-hiccup.”
“Pixie sticks-what a wonderful food group!”
“General Custard would have won if he consulted a Magic Eight Ball.”

Believe it or not, I do provide my nephews with real, hard-core knowledge they can’t get in books. Take the postcards, for example. Below are samples of the ones I sent to Stephen’s class. You be the judge:

Mississippi…”Stephen, many famous people come from Mississippi. For instance, Faith Hill, Elvis Presley, and judging by the looks of things…the Clampetts.”
Note: I understand this is incorrect. If you watch the show The Beverly Hillbillies (the original one, not the remake also known as the Anna Nicole Smith Show), you’ll hear that the Clampetts are from the Ozarks, which means they’re either from Missouri or Arkansas. I’m not much of a gambling man, but I would put money on Arkansas.

Florida…”Stephen, Florida has a vibrant economy. They export things like citrus fruits, and they import things like hurricanes and old people.”
Note: I know this is not exactly accurate. They also import drunken college kids who flash perfect strangers with video cameras and then complain that their faces and naked chests are on the Internet.

Ohio…”Stephen, Ohio is often called the heart of America. Tomorrow, I get to drive through our country’s pancreas (Pennsylvania) and bile duct (West Virginia).”
Note: You shouldn’t take offense if you are from either Pennsylvania or West Virginia. The pancreas and bile duct are vital body parts. Some body parts are not vital, like the appendix (North Dakota), the baby toe (Rhode Island), and the man nipples (Utah).

Pennsylvania…”Stephen, greetings from America’s pancreas. There are a lot of Amish people in Pennsylvania, which is good because they appreciate the values of family and hard work, and when they drive around in their buggies, my Saturn isn’t the slowest vehicle on the road. Just to make it official, I had to race one. She almost beat me.”
Note: I did not race an Amish buggy. I wasn’t allowed because the broken muffler and goose-fart sounding horn was scaring the horse.

South Carolina…”Stephen, I’m in the Palmetto State. Palmetto is a tree, not a cheese. That’s Pimento. As far as I know, there are no Pimento trees. Nor is there a Pimento State, but maybe Wisconsin comes close.”
Note: When I wrote this one, I had not slept in six days. At the time, I thought Stephen was a magic centaur who had a hankering for dairy. I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but if you’ve read this far, who cares.

Canada…”Stephen, I know Canada isn’t a state, but it’s not everyday that I visit a foreign country that understands my language and has water I can drink. This postcard cost me 12 dollars Canadian, which I had to pay after arguing with a cop on a horse wearing a mounty hat. Not a good look for a horse, if you ask me.”
Note: Canada is beautiful. And contrary to what I thought beforehand, they don’t always say “eh” after everything. So I just looked stupid when I said stuff like “I locked my keys in my car, eh. Can I get the number for triple-A, eh?”

So you see…my notes serve as a break from the monotony that is grade school. Thanks to me, Stephen’s class knows that the Ozarks are in Arkansas, the Amish are slow, and we as a country should perform an appendectomy and get rid or North Dakota.

Stay in school, kids. Yes indeed…stay in school. Well, off to bed. Thanks, Mr. Centaur.

Categories: Columns