Thursday, June 28, 2012

Your Horse Has Diabetes (But I'm Much Better)

During Prohibition, there was an urban rumor circulating that went something like this.

Once there was a guy named Mac who loved his gin and whiskey  so much -  he stocked up on a bottle a week (sometimes a bottle a day) during all of 1919 as the country faced the countdown to Prohibition.
Years later, when Mac’s supply ran out, he discreetly asked a few friends for a referral and had a few unfortunate disappointments before he found a bootlegger who brought him the smoothest,  mellowest moonshine they nicknamed “Mama’s Milk.”

Just when Mac was coming to rely on his new treasure, Mac’s bootlegger gets arrested. 

Or was it shot? Yes. He was shot. Dead. No more moonshine for poor Mac.

Instead of moping around, Mac gets an inspiration.  He fills a tiny shot glass with a sample of his precious remaining jelly jar of Mama's Milk moonshine and has a courier deliver it to the local pharmacist  in a paper bag with a discreet note (wrapped around a $1 bill) requesting all possible tests be done to determine the liquid’s content. 

Three weeks later, a thin envelope arrives from the Pharmacy: Your horse has diabetes.

When I finish telling the story to my history class, I pause for a second as students scribble pieces of the story down. 

Hands shoot up into the air.

A guy in the back row sitting towards the lecture hall’s back door asks, “Was it horse pee? Really?
I shake my head.  "Urban myth. Remember? That’s how I started the story?"

Heads nod. Most of them understood. 

A few girls in the middle of the room  are still writing so I take another question.

A guy in second row from the back offers, “I peed in a bottle once. At a football game….

I shake my head at the randomness of his statement and the class laughs.

He continues, “these people kept stealing our beer….” 

And this is it. I fall on my knees looking to the sky, silently asking "Why is this student telling us this? Why?"

 He continues, “you know those beer balls?....” and continues his college-esque story about punishing some random thieves with urine and, well, I didn't really listen because as I  allowed him (this once, and only this once) to ramble on, I remain my knees,  on the floor, holding my head like "I'm losing my mind, what do I do?"

I'm teasing. 

They know I'm teasing. 

I run my classes like a totalitarian dictatorship -- no cellphones, no computers, no talking, no tardiness, no getting up and coming back in. I do my best to not waste their time, so that we have digressed for less than a minute is forgiveable in the course of a semester.

After we laugh together for a moment or two, I pop back up, brush myself off and redirect our attention to Prohibition, then to the  Scopes Trial.  

I’m not sure the class knew it (they will know it now) but somehow, when I fell down today, I got back up whole again, laughing again and ready to write again. 

Its no coincidence the healing happened in my one class who already knows the whole story behind this book.