When my dad got on that army transport plane leaving America headed to Vietnam, he spent the next twenty-four hours or however long it took to get over there sitting next to an Irish guy named Tracy. They were the same age and came from very different backgrounds, but they became real close, considering the circumstances. They talked about all that they were leaving behind and all that they were going to face. They talked about being scared and how long they thought this war would go on. He said he knew that guy better after one day with him than he did members of his own family. They landed and got their assignments, and the next day my dad's new friend Tracy was dead. He was all in pieces because he stepped on a land mine. He was going home in a body bag after one day in the shit.
"That taught me everything I needed to know about the war," my dad said. "I never forgot that time I spent with him, because all that talking we did put me at ease. I figured that we'd be friends forever, but that's how war is. And that's how you got your name."
I was sad to hear that story but glad too. Because let's face it—Tracy Morgan? That's an Irish female's name. With a name like that, I should have red hair, blue eyes, and big titties. I should be in a green bikini on a float every March.
Excerpted from I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan, with Anthony Bozza. Copyright © 2009 by Tracy Morgan. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.