Reethe Cupth by Alex Bernstein


1972. Fourth grade.


Every Wednesday, after school, I car-pooled across town to this tenement Hebrew school in Cincinnati with my sister and two other sets of local children we couldn’t stand, the Siegels and the Lipschitz’. Karen Lipschitz was the worst human alive. Incredibly mean. She was twelve and stocky and had this big blonde permy afro, and wore grandmother clothes and Coke-bottle glasses. She looked like Little Orphan Annie’s mutant twin. And I had a bad lisp at the time and she would tease me, mercilessly. And one day, at the religious school canteen – that was the highlight of religious school; after an hour in Hebrew Hell, your Mom gave you a dollar and you’d spend it on whatever you could stuff in your pockets – Hershey bars, Pop Rocks – one time, Karen caught me off-guard, and asked me what my favorite candy was. And not thinking clearly, I said…

“Reethe cupth.”

And that was it. For the next three weeks, in the car, at school, everywhere I saw her, Karen chanted:

“Hey, Reethe cupth! Want thome Reethe Cupth, Reethe Cupth!? Maybe you’d rather have thome Thnickerth? Or Three Muthkateerth? Or Marth Barth? Or Thmarties? Or Thweet Tartth? Or – or – or – or – Pixthie Thttixth! Yeah! Pixthie Thttixth! Or maybe you’ll jutht thtick with Reethe Cupth, huh, Reethe Cupth? Thee ya, Reethe Cupth! Bye!”


I wanted to thtrangle her.



a line


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