Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My father, Zen master? -- Jack and Stu

It seems that Zen masters have pet names for their students. The television version of this is the name “Grasshopper.” This was the name given to the student by the Master in the classic adventure TV series Kung Fu.

In the Way of the Peaceful Warrior the student is called “Jack.” This was a shortened version of his longer name: Jackass. Zen masters have a sense of humor and sometimes use what would appear as demeaning ridicule with their pupils. My father did the same.

My nickname was Stu. Sometimes I was called Stuart, but that wasn’t really the long version. My dad was alluding to another version of Stu: Stupid. That was his equivalent of “Grasshopper.”

For example:

“Hey, Stu. Come here.”

“Yes, Dad?”

“Why is the screwdriver stuck in the front lawn?”

“I was working on my bike.”

“Well, Stu, that’s not where the screwdriver belongs.”

“Sorry, Dad.”

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

“Sorry, Dad.”

“Don’t be sorry. Go put the screwdriver away.”

“Yes, Dad.”

* * * * *

Napoleon Dynamite is a fictional Zen master. His pet name for his disciples? “Idiot!”

Zen masters are patient, but sometimes they are annoyed by slowness in their pupils.

Besides, screwdrivers will rust, break the mower, or trip Zen masters, but only if Stu is careless and leaves them in the yard.

Eventually, I outgrew the nickname.


  1. "Knucklehead"
    yea, I still hear that one from time to time.

    But I smile a little inside when my father passes the name to any of his three younger pupils.

  2. Chase: I use "knucklehead" on my real students at school, but only late in the year, after we have built rapport and trust. "Knucklehead" is, I'm sure, a term of endearment as well.

  3. LOL, I love stories like this one. Wonderful sweet memories of childhood. I think once we are grown, we all feel a little nostalgic don't we?
    Stu you say??.........I love it!!

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  4. @Midlife: Glad you enjoyed it. I always feel good when I can make you laugh, or at least grin.