The School of Hard Knocks
In today’s edition of the “I Wish A Muthafucker Would” Annals (a close partner of and frequent contributor to the Curly Gurl Chronicles), we find ourselves at the University of Florida for what should have been a celebration. After spending four years and several tens of thousands of dollars on their higher educations, Seniors proudly donned their robes to walk across that stage and receive those pieces of paper that would forever signify their passage into responsible, tax-paying adulthood. And, in keeping with the tradition of graduation, on that same stage sat the usual cadre of school officials and administrators. I’m sure the University President was there. The commencement speaker was probably there. And, as the school boasts a faculty of over 5000, I can only imagine how many esteemed educators had front row seats to their students’ final walk. Those young men and women had earned their stripes and, like so many of us did at our own graduations, they were going to make that moment – the one that their families and loved ones had waited for, paid for, and prayed for – count.
Then here go Barney Fife.
Those of you in my age bracket will surely remember Barney. Bernard “Barney” P. Milton Oliver Fife was the bumbling Deputy Sherriff on the Andy Griffith Show. Wait – the only Barney you know is purple? LE SIGH. Ok - to give you some context, here’s how Wikipedia describes Barney Fife:
“Sometimes considered a blowhard with delusions of grandeur… Andy knows that Barney's false bravado is a smokescreen for his insecurities and low self-confidence.He takes a minor infraction, blows it out of proportion, and then concocts an elaborate solution… to resolve it.”
Now, fast-forward back to the future. To Florida’s graduation. And to the middle-aged, be speckled white guy who, upon seeing any hint of festivity or triumph, proceeded to straight manhandle these graduates, using his own body to bump, wrestle, and push them clear across the stage. In case you haven’t yet seen the video, be clear. These graduates weren’t doing backflips. They weren’t on the floor, doing The Worm. They weren’t dropping their pants to moon the crowd. We’re not talking Ochocinco-style celebrations here. I saw a shoulder-shimmy; some arm waving. One brotha seemed to be loosening up his neck to bust out The Snake (which, if you’re not familiar, is very different than The Worm). And yet here comes this mofo acting like he’s in possession of both a badge and a championship belt. And he’s doing his WWE routine right in front of all those other muthafuckers who sat back, and did not. a. damn. thing.
So, I’m going to put aside my law degree for the moment and think back to my pre-professional days when I, too, was preparing to walk across a stage that glistened with the sweat and tears of my collegiate ancestors. And I’m going to picture Barney Fife 2.0 standing in between me and my hard-fought, well-earned diploma. And I’m going to tell you like this:
I wish a muthafucker – whose salary I paid for - would put his hands on me so that I could drop to the floor, injure something important, and walk away, not only with a multi-million dollar settlement, but with the new Curly Gurl Center for Racial and Social Justice that U of F would be erecting in my muthafucking honor.
I wish a muthafucker would grab and rag-doll-me around so that I could – innocently, instinctively - knee him in the muthafucking nuts, making him see all the stars that’ll shine bright in the new Curly Gurl Planetarium that my settlement will also mandate. (Because Hidden Figures. And NASA. And colored restrooms. Nuff said.)
And I wish a muthafucker would body bump me across that stage so that I could let out a rallying cry (something akin to the “Ohh Ohhhhhhhhhh” from Cool C’s “The Glamorous Life” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC11wBeTy8c) that'd bring all the boyz to the yard to… impress upon Mr. Fife our lack of appreciation for his handling of this situation. And to explain to him that moving FAR away from the Dirty South would likely be in his best interest.
In short, Mr. Fife is very lucky that Florida has matriculated some very mature, forward-thinking, and forgiving men and women. Cuz, had that been me or mine up there, all Mr. Fife would’ve been doing as he left the auditorium that day was wishing that a muthafucker would’ve given him a head start.