In Brooklyn, we never got Ronald’s joke

In Brooklyn, we never got Ronald’s joke

We all know a Ronald.

When I was in school, every class had a Ronald. We all know a Ronald.
When I was in school, every class had a Ronald. We all know a Ronald. Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

When I was growing up in Brooklyn, every junior high school class had a Ronald.

He’d stick his foot out as you walked by, and after you crashed to the ground, say he was “just playing around.” Or make oinking sounds at a chubby girl eating her lunch. Or mock a stutterer until the boy cried, then sneered, “Can’t you take a joke?”

And God forbid he found out it was your birthday. Ronald would delight in gifting you with birthday punches, until your arm turned black and blue.

Ronald wasn’t particularly bright, but he was crafty. He never studied, but would make sure to sit next to Aaron, the smartest kid in the class, intimidating him to make sure he left his test papers exposed.

Ronald would “borrow” a dollar, then never pay you back. Or if he liked you, he might return a quarter, and act like it was the greatest act of charity in history.

He decided to run for class president. “You’re voting for me, right?” he’d implore, as he squeezed your shoulder a bit too hard. Ronald lost badly, then demanded to see the secret ballots, claiming our teacher, Mrs. Cohen, had “fixed” the election against him.

A little after 3 p.m., Mrs. Cohen stepped into the street to discover someone had mangled her windshield wipers. Two brave little souls told her they saw who did the damage.

Mrs. Cohen called Ronald’s wealthy parents to class and told them what their son did to her car. His father asked the teacher whether she had witnesses. “Two,” she replied angrily. “That’s not many,” said Ronald’s dad, who reluctantly wrote out a check to cover the damages.

One wintry day, Ronald smashed a snowball into the face of Angela, who ran home crying. About 10 minutes later, Angela’s brother, Tommy, showed up and confronted Ronald, who denied doing it, then said he was “only kidding around.”

Tommy beat the living crap out of Ronald and left him whimpering on the ground, much to the delight of my entire class. “Only kidding around, right?” said Tommy.

Then one fine day, Ronald was gone. His parents had shipped him off to military school.

I wonder whatever became of Ronald?

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at

Mike Vogel