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Herbert And Manallili


I was in 5th grade when I encountered my first awareness of a silly last name. Go figure, I have one of the most mispronounced names by all white people who have ever attempted to pronounce it- but when you’re 10 years old you manage to ignore how different you are until people start pointing it out. I was one of those pointer-outers of my class. His last name was “Manalilli” (pronounced Manna-lily). And coincidentally it rhymed with the first name of another boy in our class: Willie. So my rhyme was simple:

“Mana-lilli, Mana-lilli, hey…you loooove Will-ie!”

This chant spread all throughout lunch that day to the point where this Manalilli kid told on me. I was scolded by a teacher but nothing further. She probably saw my point too: clearly Manalilli would be mistaken for loving Willie due to the fact that he had long enough hair to pass for a girl. Brown Man graduates onto the 6th grade.

Where we find “Herbert”. Well after my lunch time hit in the 5th grade, I had to go with the obvious rhyme which was more poetic than a song. “Herbert the Pervert”. A sensation for the entire lunch period again! I, I don’t even know how I come up with these things really! Unfortunately I didn’t have the same teacher for 6th grade: she confronted me.

“Do you even know what a pervert is, 6th grade version of Brown Man?”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to answer what I knew of the word, so I said “No, ma’am.”

“Well 6th grade version of Brown Man, or ‘little Brown Man’ for story’s sake, it’s a person who is into nude things and sexual activities such as pornography. Do you honestly think this is Herbert? Are you one too?”

“No ma’am.”

“Good little Brown Man. You had better stop hurting Herbert like that with that horrible name before I tell your parents.”

Thank goodness I didn’t answer her as to what I thought a I pervert was! I would have ended up saying “it’s a person that bangs a lot of little girls and brags about it to his friends.” Wow, way off base! So internally to a few friends, I just began calling Herbert a “pussy” for telling on me. He was hurt by a little name that just conveniently rhymed with a untrue nickname. So I went for accuracy with “Pussy Herbert.” No poetry to that at all.

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One Response

  1. Fuck, he ruined your life. You were going to be Edgar Allan Poe.

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