Declaration of a Super Scrub
This is personal.
Since I teach high school and my last name is Hoffmeister, I get called by a lot of different names: There is the standard Mr. Hoffmeister, or Hoffmeister for short, but I’ve also been called Hoff, Hoffy, The Hoff, Pistol Pete, Hoffster, Coach Hoff (even though I don’t coach), Meister, Mr. Meister, Meisterhoff, and Halfmaster.
And since I’m built on the small side for a fully-aged grownup, I’ve also been called Smalls, Shorty, Shawty, and Little Big Man. And none of those names ever bothered me. High school kids enjoy their nicknames, their pet names, their handles. But the other day, I was called a name I didn’t like.
I was out behind the school, in the cold, wearing old blue tennis shoes, a turquoise coat some guy gave to me, a big stocking cap, and shorts. None of the colors matched.
A senior girl from one of my classes walked up to me and laughed. She said, “Hoff, you look like a scrub.”
I was taken back. “A what?”
“A scrub. Just look at you.” She pointed at the individual elements of my outfit. “Serious scrub time, Hoffy.”
I considered arguing with her. “Scrub” didn’t sound good. I felt like I’d just been called the ugliest sibling. But then I had to ask myself, “Is it true? Am I really a scrub?”
Being an English teacher, I wanted a definition for the word. But American Heritage gave me, “To clean with hard rubbing,” and that’s not even a noun.
Webster’s says, “Noun: A domestic animal of mixed or unknown parentage…”
No, that’s not what the girl meant.
So I googled.
TLC sang, “A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me…” And I certainly wasn’t getting no love when I got called a scrub.
So, check. I might be one.
Skee Lo helped me go a little further with my understanding. “I wish I was a little bit taller…” He said he was currently a scrub but planned on becoming a baller.
Self-analysis again: I’m only five-feet-five-inches tall. That might be scrub-like.
I spent a few weeks listening to hip-hop and cross-referencing material with interviews of professional athletes.
And all that research got me to thinking. What if I am a scrub? Since rappers, NFL pro-bowl linebackers and NBA superstars are ballers, not scrubs, I could redefine myself by comparing to their key standards, lifestyles choices, and values.
Using the following ten categories, I realized that I am not only a scrub but, in fact, a super scrub.
#1. My Ride
No Caddie at the crib. No Escalade rolling. No white Lexus on the slow.
No, my ride is a bike. Not a motorcycle, an actual bicycle. I got the frame for ten dollars and added components myself. So that’s my transportation to and from work, or what I ride to meet people for coffee.
I found these bad 90’s jokes: “Your boyfriend’s so wack, he gotta pick you up…on his handlebars.”
“Your boyfriend’s so wack, he gets all hot and sweaty…from pedaling his bike.”
I’ve never been inside an Abercrombie and Fitch store. Or Hollister. I not only don’t wear Armani, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what an Armani suit looks like. Does it have stripes? Is it made of silk?
Goodwill is too uptown for me. St. Vinnie’s too expensive.
I get all my clothes for free.
My friends and family kick me their left-overs, their hand-me-downs, their throw-aways, so there are days when I do look like a bum. And that’s not a cliché simile. I look like a real living bum. A legitimate homeless person.
There are no plasma TVs in my house. I’m not sure what “Hi Def” looks like. We don’t get cable, or satellite, and I think a Blue Ray player looks like a DVD player, but I don’t know.
I don’t own an iphone. Or any cell phone at all for that matter. I don’t know how to text message, and I definitely don’t know how to send a hot sext. There are no Blackberries recharging in my office, and my office is my own kitchen table that usually has old food stuck to it.
Here’s something about my technology purchasing goals: Next story I sell, I’m going to buy myself an oven that works.
A night of quiet reading sounds pretty good. Or writing with a cup of coffee close at hand in the early morning. Not hung over. That would be hella tight.
I like to drink a beer and play Trivial Pursuit. I don’t remember how to play Dominoes anymore and I leave Hennessy on the shelf at the store.
I don’t go clubbin. And as Pacman Jones says, “I’m not goin’ go to no scrip clubs cuz I know I don’t need to be at no scrip clubs no mo’.”
#5. Got Game?
To say that I’ve got no game with the ladies is such an understatement it’s like saying John McCain is old. It’s like saying Rhianna can sing. It’s like saying Al Gore is made out of wood. My game’s that bad.
The first time I met my wife, I got nervous, awkward, and wordy. I bragged about being an English Literature major and focusing on Scottish Romanticism. Then I told her I had a prosthetic elbow. Prosthetic elbows aren’t even real, and she knew it. She looked at my long sleeve shirt and shook her head no.
I’ve heard that Terrell Owens has diamond earrings worth $137,000, but I’ve never pierced my own ears. And if I had a necklace on I’d get claustrophobic. And if I was claustrophobic, how could I be big pimpin?
I have no gold crosses. No clocks. No St. Anthony’s. No pinky rings. When I go by a jewelry store, I don’t go in. I don’t even consider it. I don’t think anything at all. And, I’m afraid of the mall too. Neon lights freak me out. So how am I going to go trade my gold in for platinum? How am I gonna roll six carats deep?
I’ve never been to Grand Cayman, the Bahamas, Puerta Villarta, The Ritz, Athens, or Milan. I’ve never been to The Cannes Film Festival, Carnival in Rio, or spring break on Miami Beach.
I can’t even afford to visit New York. So not only can I not afford ballers’ vacations, I can’t even afford to visit where some of them normally live.
And goodness knows I don’t sit around wearing Louie’s boat shoes, on a yacht, drinking Crystal at sundown. That’s just not the way I kick it.
When I listen to Wu Tang, I know they all chill together. I can hear it. They have at least as many homies as band members – which is 42, right?
Jay-Z raps, “Mj at summer jam, Obama on the text
Y’all should be afraid of what I’m gonna do next.”
But I’ve got no posse and zero bitches, and you have nothing to be afraid of here. Me, I have one friend. One. Not that I don’t talk to other people on the phone, or write letters once in a while, but I really have only one non-family member I hang out with. It’s gotten so bad lately that we all call him “My only friend in the entire world Jeff.”
After a wedding reception, my own wife once said, “You’re not a very good dancer.”
I was shocked. I thought we’d just had a lot of fun at the party. “How bad am I really?”
She sucked her teeth and squinted one eye. “I’d say worse than most.”
“Yeah, probably worse than 90%.”
“So I’m 10% worse than other people?”
“No,” she said. “90% worse.”
And that was from the woman who loves me enough to bear my children.
Let’s just say, I don’t stack paper. I don’t drop Benjamins. I never get “two bands down in Atlantic City” because I don’t even know how much “a band” is. And if I had two bands, I’d probably buy a motherfuckin’ oven that works.
So it’s proven. I am a scrub. I’m as scrubby as a brillo pad. Scrubby as elbow grease. I don’t roll. I scrub down the block.
Strangely enough, though, I can play basketball. And pretty well. But I’m slowing now.
Getting old. 147 pounds of balding and aging,
Out there on the court, an imposter, an actor in glasses, just staging.
My cross-over won’t break your ankles, not anymore,
Hopefully stretch your shoes, make you buy new ones at the store.
But I’ll be incapable soon, old and decrepit,
Stiff, inflexible, awkward as a mono-ped.
This is ever-increasing, developing, scrubmazing,
Number one, the ultimate, the president of scrub nation.
Post-post note: Because this essay sold for grips of ice, Peter’s gonna take his skrillaz down to a used appliance store and get himself a mad food-cooking device. What now? He’ll bake a dank chocolate pie for his one and only homie in the world: Jeff.