True story, word for word. As I recall, we didn’t discuss much Thucydides that day.

I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I grew up not knowing certain things that everybody else did. (I was seventeen before I discovered you could buy soup in a can.) This year, history recitation is where I learned the most.

It all started when Mr. Schlect brought up the subject of puns. He said: “A butcher backed up into  a meat grinder, and got a little behind in his work.”

Snort. Obliging groans and giggles.

Then he declared: “Puns are almost the lowest form of humor—right above ‘pull my finger.’”

I said: “What’s ‘pull my finger’?”

For an entire minute, no one could even speak. The whole table was grabbing their throats, reeling in their chairs, and howling. I thought Marc was going to have a hernia.

Tell me!” I insisted.

So Mr. Schlect did, and I wished he hadn’t. But now he was on a roll. “You guys know what a Pokemon is, don’t you?”

I looked around the room. “It’s that weird, nasty little creature in the game, isn’t it?”

“A Pokemon,” said Mr. Schlect distinctly, “is a Rastafarian Proctologist.”

We all stared at him.

“Okay,” he said. “It isn’t funny if you have to explain it.”

“What’s a proctologist?” I asked, pencil ready.

“A proctologist is a person who deals with colonoscopies, so they spend most of their time with rubber gloves on, sticking their hands up people’s heinies. That’s the ‘poke’ part.”

We were in pain. I could hardly hold my pencil. “How do you spell that?” I choked.

Marc started banging the table and crying. Catherine and Emily were holding their sides.

“Well, is that true? Is that really what a Pokemon is?” I demanded.

Mr. Schlect had his head in his hands. He said: “Gwen, it’s a good thing we have you in this class.”

“Yeah,” Seth piped. “Because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to burrow into things!”

“Oh, Seth!” said Mr. Schlect. “Pull my finger!”