Editor’s note: In the previous post “Those who are on the schneid,” I grievously presumed the term “schneid” was commonly understood among those who commonly understand things. For those who commonly misunderstand the commonly understood I offer this F.A.Q. Memorize it, please; there may be a quiz. It may help if you put it to music and sing it like an opera. But not in Italian because then you’d have to have subtitles and you’d have to sing them too — a fact that is commonly understood and/or misunderstood, whichever makes the most sense.
Q. I keep hearing about people being on the schneid. Like “Oh, he’s been on the schneid now for about three weeks.” And then, suddenly, they get off the schneid. Like, “Well there’s no doubt about it. He is officially off the schneid now.”
A. Is that a question or an inaugural address?
Q. Wiseguy. So what’s a schneid?
A. The proper question would be what is the Schneid.
Q. Is that an answer or a cry for help?
A. There was this guy. Name of Schneider
Q. Is this going to take long?
A. He was a good boy. Always wore nice shoes. Very white teeth.
A. Excuse me, but can I tell the story?
Q. So tell.
A. I’m saying. You wanted to know. So I’m trying to tell.
Q. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
A. So. Schneider. Kid worked very hard. He sold dryer lint to put his parents through college.
Q. A kid put his parents through college?
A. They were driving him crazy. It was the only way to get them out of the house.
Q. They must not have been very smart.
A. Did I not just say they were going to college? You go to college to get smart. Look, are you going to keep interrupting? Because I’ve got a very busy life. I’ve got a horse that needs painting.
Q. Is that why you have blue paint on your hands?
A. That’s a horse of a different color.
Q. Why did he want his parents out of the house?
Q. Kid who put his parents through college.
A. You knew him, then?
Q. Word gets around.
A. He was hooked on gin.
Q. A boozer.
Q. A boozer and a rummy. I thought you said he was a good boy.
A. Gin rummy. The card game. You know cards? 52 in a deck? Hearts, clubs and what else they got. Shovels. Spatulas…
Q. Diamonds and spades.
A. Right. Spade. What they do to dogs who get a little too frisky.
Q. So Schneider played cards?
A. Every day. Had friends over. They played on his mother’s nice dining room table. Didn’t use the little coasters she bought at Woolworth’s. Left rings on the table. No amount of scrubbing could get them out. Broke his mother’s heart. It also popped a rod in her crankcase, so to speak. She was never the same.
Q. All because of table rings?
A. She’d brought that table over from the old country. Carried it on her back. Ship sank, she took it in the lifeboat. Made her husband swim. One Thanksgiving she tried to light the candles on the table with a railroad flare. Table burned to the ground. The apartment building with it. “And that,” she told her son “is how you get rid of rings.”
Q. Did Schneider play rummy for money?
A. Is a shark’s ass shark? Course they played for money. But he had one problem.
Q. Besides breaking his mother’s heart?
A. Okay, two problems. But you’re beginning to get on my nerves.
Q. I’ll just listen.
A. He was a loser.
Q. Schneider was a loser?
A. Did I say he was a winner?
Q. I’ll just listen.
A. He always lost. Always. Lost his shirt. Went around half-naked. When he lost his pants you didn’t see him as much.
Q. Is this story going anywhere?
A. It got so bad that when one of his friends lost a game, the others would say he’d pulled a Schneider. After a while they shortened it. When a guy was running a streak of bad luck his friends would tell him he was on the Schneid. When he finally won, he was off the Schneid.
Q. Whatever happened to Schneider?
A. He joined a flea circus. Fleas took to him right away. Started a high wire act. Rode a bicycle across a tightrope with eight hundred fleas balanced on his shoulders.
Q. How long did he do that?
A. About 10 seconds. First time out he started scratching. Killed half the act.
Q. What about the others?
A. They jumped. Landed on some clown. Even fleas know you do what you gotta do to get off the Schneid.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.