My Secret Life of Shame With the Last Name 'Fuks'
Going through my childhood with a last name nearly identical to the mother of all curse words was utter torture. But only after my family changed it did the regrets really begin.
Illustrations by Vinnie Neuberg
I was a serious child born to serious people.
In gym class at P.S. 100 – a school situated in one of the roughest areas of the South Bronx in New York City – two fellow fourth graders are taking turns smacking the back of my head while I attempt to complete our required 60 sit-ups.
This is far from the first time something like this has happened to me. By then I’d been physically abused on two coasts. I complain to the gym teacher.
Instead of punishing the delinquents, he imparts an aphorism: “Saddle a kid with a name like Fuks, in this neighborhood, and you’ll either break him or force him to develop one hell of a sense of humor.”
“What’s a sense of humor?” I ask.
He shakes his head in pity and walks away.
“Papa, the kids are bullying me because of our last name,” I tell my father, who’s of Russian descent, and Jewish, at home later that day.
“Why? Fuks is a good name. You should be proud!”
“Yeah, but everybody calls me ‘Fucks.’”
“Correct them. Tell them it’s pr…
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