The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Episode I

A common refrain from my mom while growing up was “you’ve gotta be smart to be a smart aleck.” This was in response to me saying something sarcastic. The meaning: a truly smart person would not have said what you just said, or perhaps I hadn’t reached the education necessary to excuse such snarky comments. Either way it boiled down to my mom saying: NOT LIKE.

Episode II (Borrowed)

In elementary school a classmate of mine, Curtis, was a real piece of work. He gave the neighborhood kids headaches. Before walking to my buddies house I would sometimes spot Curtis riding around on his bicycle, circling like a shark, waiting for the smell of blood (or in his case, other kids his age to play with). You might think, ‘this poor kid just wanted friends’ … which yes, he did, and that’s all well and good, but I didn’t want to be Mr. Nice Guy because Curtis was a brat. If he saw me walking to my friends house he would invite himself along.

In the worst instance of Curtis being a brat, he figured out that I was home doing nothing and wanted to play. (Maybe I was in the driveway shooting hoops and he invited himself along.) Because I refused to come out he rang the doorbell repeatedly. My sister and I were the only ones home so she said menacing things and he buzzed off temporarily. Later he came back and planted himself in our backyard, where he could see me in the basement playing on the computer. Odd. I told my enforcer sister and off she went, saying another string of menacing things. I don’t know what she said but that time it really took and he didn’t do that again.

Anywho, here was Curtis’s smart aleck moment:

He walked in to class one day (in 3rd or 4th grade) and said kiss my a-and here he emphasized and drew out the s sound-ssssssphalt. He was convinced he would avoid punishment because come on, teach!, he didn’t cuss! Unfortunately Curtis forgot that it’s not just curse words that get you in trouble – it’s also being a pain.

Episode III

Another elementary school incident, although this time it was me being a pain.

In music class we had a singing segment (if the music teacher was smart, I’d imagine this would happen after the segment on recorders because then, no matter what, we would sound like a choir of angels compared to having to listen to recorder jam sessions for several weeks). The class was singing something, who knows what, and the teacher called me out in particular for bad annunciation.

What? Me? How did you hear my particular annunciation in a classroom full of singing?

We went through it again and the song ends on some word being drawn out for a few beats. The word ends and then I pipe in with a not too loud, but clearly audible, “-t.” Because, apparently, that word better have a clear ending, and it’s my singing reputation on the line. Or perhaps my intentions weren’t so noble and instead I was just being a real smart aleck.

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