"Who the heck is Thomas Schmuck?" my husband asked me.
"Thomas who?" I said. "Schmuck? Are you kidding me?"
"No. You wrote a check to him in September for $90 and I want to know just who this Schmuck is!"
My husband was laughing; we both were, but I really couldn't remember why I'd written a check to Thomas Schmuck for $90. We also had some serious questions -
1. Just who WAS Thomas Schmuck?
2. Was he really a "schmuck" or was that just his unfortunate name?
3. Where did the word "schmuck" come from anyway?
To address the last question first - Merriam-Webster defines "schmuck" as a "stupid or foolish person," as in, "I can't believe what a schmuck that guy is.." It also goes on to say that the origin of the word comes from the Yiddishword shmok, which means literally - penis.
So I guess calling someone a schmuck is the same as calling them a dick. Which brings me to my next question -
How did the nickname of Dick (from Richard) get turned into an ugly word for penis?
Once again turning to some on-line sources, Dick has long been an English synonym for "fellow," but sometime around 1890, the British army started using it as a slang word for penis. I can't find the reason why, but at least we have someone to blame for it - the Brits! Then of course, there's the origin of the words, prick, cock, well - you get the picture.
So, to address the second question of my original list, Was Thomas Schmuck really a schmuck? Well, literally, no. When I looked at the digital copy of the check my husband was referencing (that was a mouthful!), I saw that his last name is actually spelled Scheumack, which probably still sounds like schmuck but is obviously spelled differently. I also looked on the check for a clue as to why I'd paid him $90, but unfortunately, I'd left the "for ______" line empty.
Which leads me back to my first and final question - just who is Thomas Scheumack? My husband googled him, and a site came up called, the "Scheumack Broom Company," which was founded by a craftsman named Thurman Scheumack back in 1981. At last I remembered! In September, I went to the Kings Mountain Art Faire and bought a couple of beautiful hand-crafted brooms. I'm not sure why my check was made out to Thomas and not Thurman, but that is a mystery I don't care to pursue.
Anyway, now that you and I both know who Thomas Scheumack is - actually, what the Scheumack company is - you might want to look at their website. I love their brooms. I have one with black bristles I call my "witch's broom." It almost makes sweeping fun because I can imagine that when the chore is done, I can fly off on my broom! So check them out, and if you find the real Thomas, please don't tell him I sent you. He probably wouldn't appreciate my husband and I calling him a schmuck.