Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In my time of toughness

I once fancied myself to be a tough guy.

When I was very young, my friend and I found ourselves in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

We chanced to laugh at the antics of a little boy.

He was not amused by our laughter, and the next thing I knew, we were face to face with his larger, less endearing brother.

Notice how quickly I gave up my friend?


Basically, don't ever expect me to have your back, because it looks like I give up names faster than the Crips can ask for them.

Anyways, we got off with a threat, but at the end, I still tried to be tough:

There was nothing I could say.

My toughness carried over into school.

Like when I tried to rescue Jolean from being cheek kissed by Caleb the bearded first grader.

Caleb was your classic stay-in-elementary-school-to-avoid-the-draft kind of kid.

He was closing in on her.

I didn't think, I didn't hesitate; I just ran towards my destiny, my metal Gobots lunchbox clanking against my side.

All I remember was Caleb's hands, so impossibly strong for a six-year-old's, spinning me in endless circles and then letting me fly. 

Through the haze of a near concussion, I could see Jolean laughing. Caleb gave my lunchbox a little kick, then he and Jolean scampered off for snack. 

Not long after that, I decided to try my own hand at bullying.

At first, it was just reactionary bullying.

Like when Jerry called me fat.

Sure he was way smaller than me, but he was trying to punk me out.

All the kids knew it.

Being one of the biggest ones in  the class, I had a reputation to uphold.

I chased Jerry down and threw my best move on him.

I didn't know very much about fighting, or wrestling, or cool moves.

My classmates stood over us, expecting things to get real crazy.

I didn't want to tell them that I had only one play in my book, and they were looking at it.

So I just held Jerry there on the ground for awhile.

After that, I was feeling pretty tough.

I decided to pick my first real bullying target.

One day, kids chased me around the playground, pinching my back fat and saying "chub chub chub chub".

I lost my appetite for bullying.

But I retained a private belief in my personal toughness. 

Of course, this belief was maintained solely through selective evidence retention.

Discarded anti-toughness evidence: 

1) I sobbed when I could not complete a rope's course.

It was like a foot off the ground.

I was in ninth grade.

2) For my one and only fistfight, I had to take my glasses off. 

All I could see was a brownish blur that kept trying to punch me and called me an "art fag."

I thought his friend behind me, pinning my arms, was the gym coach, trying to break up the fight.

When it actually did get broken up, I turned to this friend and thanked him, STILL believing he had been trying to stop the fight.

I guess when I don't have glasses on, I am a firm believer in the intrinsic goodness of the human being.

3) When I took boxing lessons, I had trouble concentrating. 

Instead of learning how to kick ass, I was completely distracted by the wart colony on my trainer's shoulders.

In the end, though, I believe I absorbed some of that exposure to toughness.

It manifests itself, from time to time, in my special education work.

Like the time I went to a Special Olympics basketball tournament.

Down a side hallway, I saw one team try to start a fight with another.

I quickly glanced around, ever ready to shirk responsibility, but I was the only adult present.

It was getting heated.

My brain scrambled for the scripted dialogue of crisis intervention.

What it retrieved was:

And that ridiculous sports movie cliche actually worked.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ah youth, ah halycon days

In hopes of following in the footsteps of much funnier bloggers than I, I plundered my box of keepsakes and old artworks.

I was very disappointed.

Not a single humorous diary entry; not one lion with an unarguably radical mane.

I did, however, discover that child-me was quite adept at coming up with really cool names for a wide variety of awesome guys.

Who needs Spiderman, when you have Krek?

And The Terrorizer looks African American, which is strange, because the only black people I had seen at that age were Mr.T and Fat Albert.

Apparently I was obsessed with the name 'Ron', or names with Ron-like sounds in them.
Don't worry, people of Space! Wayne and Ben are here to save you.
Ron again.

Looking at these old pictures brings me back...back to when I was just another awkward, chubby 80's kid with a bowlcut and a Godzilla obsession.

It also makes me wonder why there are no girls in any of my pictures.

I know I certainly thought about girls at that age.

One girl, poor little Lisa with voluptuously fat cheeks, long black hair, and chipmunk teeth, sticks out in particular.
 Packs of us boys would chase her around the playground, corner her in the big cement tunnel, and place our open mouths in what we thought was a kissing position upon those temptress cheeks.

I cannot even imagine how it must have been for her, facing that unwanted parade of overlicked lips and little boy breath.

I don't remember her coming back after first grade.

For some reason, the first graders I ran around with thought 'big legs' on a girl were just about as sexy as you could get it.

One day as we sat around the old circle table, I remember bragging about my older sister:

I also found this old picture of me.

I was dyeing my hair purple, mostly because I was an idiot adrift in a sea of whatever I perceived to be cool.

I don't look a thing like this anymore.

I did some age progression work on the picture, so you can see what I look like now, 17 years later.

Big legged women of the world, watch out!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

He had the first day jitters

We got a new student this week.

Occasionally, the behemothic system of educational placement rolls double turds, and a kid that has no business being with us, ends up here anyways.

Picture a young Latino, immaculately groomed, dabbed with an appropriate amount of cologne, well-dressed, slick cellphone in hand, a pack of Kools tucked away in his pocket.

He has less of a disability, and more of a criminal record, with a dash of trouble talking about his feelings.

We shall call him Julio, and we will lead this young man through his first day in our class.

In the rare moments that Julio paused in his texting, he witnessed:

Me, his only adult male role model in the class, making my Family Face and percussing Purple Girl's backfat, while she did an impromptu Cookie Monster rap:

Oh yes, I should explain Family Face.

I have noticed, much to my shame, that the four members of my family all make an unconscious and unbidden expression whenever we see something cute, or grab that cute thing and maybe bite it, or pound out a rhythm on any surface, or attempt to wrestle, dance, or lift weights.

The face consists of the top teeth bucking out and sinking deeply into the lower lips.

The skin of the face then pulls in sharply towards the overbite epicenter.  The more frantic or strenuous the labor, the more the Family Face intensifies.

It is not uncommon, in our home, for me to watch my children wrestle in a puppy-like pile on the floor, and look across the room to see my wife mirroring my expression.

It is as embarrassing as it is uncontrolled.

So after I regain composure, I introduce myself to Julio.

After that inauspicious debut, I get behind Julio and try to see the classroom as he would see it.

It is so strange.

Julio did not come back today.

I feel like I let him down somehow, but I can't pinpoint exactly when that letdown took place.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A League of my own

Well, at last I belong somewhere.

Noa Gavin of OH, NOA bid me enter the hallowed halls of the League of Funny Bitches.

I love being in leagues and teams and guilds and stuff-let me just get my costume on and meet the other heroes.

I am ready.

I peruse the Rolls of Membership to find familiar faces with which to fraternize.

Hey, it's Hannah Hart from My Drunk Kitchen!