I’m making the eight or so classmates of mine who can hear me suffer from having to hold their laughter in. We’re all standing beside our desks saying the Pledge of Allegiance, same as we did every morning. On this morning, though, something in my sixth-grade brain snapped at the idea of repeating the same thing I’d been saying every school morning of my life.
So while everyone else was saying the normal words of the pledge, I said the words in parenthesis:
I pledge allegiance (I’m so tired of saying)
To the flag (These dumb words)
of the United States of America (that we say every day of our lives)
And to the Republic (Why can’t they let us)
For which it stands (Say anything else)
One nation (One time)
Under God (For God’s sake)
Indivisible (Just once)
With liberty and justice for all. (So that I can not pass out and die).
In the course of delivering my blasphemous improvisation I looked around, and saw the kids near me struggling not to explode with laughter. A couple of the girls near me were watching me with tears rolling down their beet-red faces.
And I thought: Whoa. It’s good—it’s very good—to be funny.
My mother had disappeared. Living with my (long absent and now returned) dad and the woman I now supposed to call mom was horrible.
But I was funny. And funny got me loving attention. And getting loving attention was, for me, like a cold jug of Gatorade to a man dying of thirst.
You better believe the next day I had a Pledge of Allegiance routine that was even funnier. I sat down and wrote that one.