THE BALLAD OF JAKE AND JOSH

OKAY SO I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH A PAIR OF TWINS, AND THEY WERE IDENTICAL AND THUS WENT THROUGH ALL THE TERRIBLE SHIT TWINS ARE SUBJECTED TO (ALLITERATIVE NAMES [JAKE AND JOSH], MATCHING OUTFITS UNTIL WE WERE IN LIKE THIRD GRADE OR SO) BUT EVERY SO OFTEN THEY WOULD USE THIS TO THEIR ADVANTAGE AND GO TO EACH OTHER’S CLASSES TO FUCK WITH TEACHERS AND STUFF.

THIS STORY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT.

INSTEAD I AM GOING TO TALK ABOUT WHEN I WAS IN A BIOLOGY CLASS WITH THEM, THIS MUST HAVE BEEN SEVENTH GRADE. OUR TEACHER WAS THIS LANKY OLD MAN FROM FLORIDA NAMED MR. LELAND AND HE HAD BEEN TEACHING BIOLOGY SINCE HOOVER WAS PRESIDENT OR SOMETHING AND THOUGH HE’D BEEN LIVING IN THE MIDWEST FOR A MILLION YEARS HE STILL HAD HIS FREE-WHEELING FLORIDA ACCENT AND MANNERISMS. HE WAS PRETTY LIVELY, IS WHAT I AM SAYING.

SO FOR THIS BIOLOGY CLASS WE HAD TO DO VOCAB, BECAUSE THAT IS THE KIND OF POINTLESS SHIT YOU DO IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, AND THEN ON THE DAY THE VOCAB WAS DUE WE WOULD ALL GO OVER THE WORDS AS A CLASS WITH MR. LELAND LEADING.

ONE DAY WE GOT TO SOME WORD, I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT, LET’S SAY RIBOSOME. AND MR. LELAND DRAWLS, “RIBAHZOHM, NOW WHICH ONE-A YA’LL CAN TELL ME WHAT A RIBAHZOHM IS,” AND HE THINKS FOR A SECOND AND POINTS AT ONE OF THE TWINS (LET’S SAY IT’S JAKE, BECAUSE SHIT IF I COULD TELL THEM APART).

AND JAKE, HE GETS THIS COMPLETELY MORTIFIED LOOK ON HIS FACE, WHICH YOU’D THINK WOULD MEAN HE DIDN’T DO THE ASSIGNMENT, BUT NOPE, HE BEGINS TO READ… SOMETHING.

IT’S COMPLETE NONSENSE, THEY’RE NOT EVEN WORDS, IT SOUNDS LIKE HE’S HAVING A SEIZURE OR HE’S A GODDAMNED PENTECOSTAL OR SOMETHING. NO ONE HAS ANY IDEA WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING, AND MR. LELAND IS LIKEWISE FLABBERGASTED.

“WHAT YOU READIN?” HE ASKS.

“MY… MY DEFINITION,” JAKE REPLIES, HIS EYES FILLED WITH FEAR. “IT’S WHAT THE BOOK SAID.”

“LEMME SEE THAT.” MR. LELAND STROLLS ACROSS THE ROOM AND PICKS UP JAKE’S VOCAB SHEET — TWO AND A HALF PAGES, KEEP THAT IN MIND, THIS WAS TWO AND A HALF PAGES WORTH OF WORK¬†— AND BEGINS TO FLIP THROUGH IT, MUTTERING TO HIMSELF AND ONLY LOOKING MORE AND MORE CONFUSED.

“WHAT IS THIS?” HE ASKS.

“IT’S WHAT MY BOOK SAYS!” INSISTS JAKE.

“SHOW ME,” SAID MR. LELAND, AND THEN HE LOOKS AT JAKE’S BROTHER JOSH: “IN THE MEANWHILE, CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT A RIBAHZOHM IS?”

“SURE,” SAYS JOSH, MORE THEN A LITTLE UNCERTAINLY, AND HE PROMPTLY BEGINS TO READ THE SAME SORT OF UNINTELLIGIBLE NONSENSE DEFINITION HIS TWIN HAD JUST READ.

BY THIS POINT JAKE HAS FLIPPED TO THE GLOSSARY IN HIS BOOK, BUT MR. LELAND AND THE REST OF THE CLASS ARE JUST STARING IN ABSOLUTE WONDERMENT AT THE TWINS.

WHAT. THE. SHIT.

AFTER A SECOND OR TWO OF SILENCE MR. LELAND LOOKS DOWN AT JAKE’S BOOK .

AND BEGINS TO LAUGH.

HE LAUGHS AND LAUGHS AND FOR A MOMENT WE’RE NOT SURE IF HE’S GOING TO LET US IN ON THE JOKE OR IF THERE’S SOME SORT OF CONTAGIOUS INSANITY SETTING IN, BUT THEN, WIPING AWAY A TEAR OF MIRTH, MR. LELAND EXCLAIMS, “BOY, YOU USED THE SPANISH GLOSSARY!”

A LOOK OF BEATIFIC COMPREHENSION DAWNS IN JAKE’S FACE. “OH!” HE SAYS.

JOSH, MEANWHILE, IS GLARING DAGGERS AT HIS BROTHER. “YOU IDIOT!” HE CRIES. “IF YOU WERE USING THE SPANISH GLOSSARY THEN¬†WHY DID YOU LET ME COPY OFF YOU?

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