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.


  1. Awesome. I assume with your sports movie cliché you meant "Legal Court"? As in, "If you keep bullying each other, we is gonna sue your ass and that metal fake hand of yours, too!"

    I can completely relate to this post. I have not always been a bully, but I somehow became one when I started blogging a year and a half ago. I will do things like write a snotty post saying how the dead architect who designed my house in 1941 sucks and I hate him and I hate looking at a brick wall from my dining room when we live on a half acre lot of beautiful grass and trees and the only view of that is from the toilet in the back of the house in the one tiny bathroom. Thanks for the architectural brilliance and clarity, Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright wannabe! NOT!

    It is really fun to bully the ghosts of dead architects because I am so, you know, superior in my designing skills just be being, uh, well, alive and all.

    I hate you, dead architect! Ha! take that!


  2. I only bully inanimate objects really, but I am super mean to them (gonna write a post on that eventually) and I always jumped in to break up fights when I taught. I once got to go home because a student punched me in the arm while I was breaking up a fight she was trying to engage in and left a big bruise and then she couldn't be in my class any more because the deputy got me to press charges against her, which was actually kind of awesome because she was a jerk.

  3. Very amusing. It's great to be reminded that when we were kids, we were mostly unpleasant creatures. That's nature for you!

  4. i had a very difficult time looking at the shoulder wart colony. yet i couldn't look away. it was distressing & i may have had a small convulsion.

  5. LOL! Excellent post always.

    Went to a flea market today, brought a couple of those Voodoo doll figures. Thought I'd use them on anyone that I see as a threat in the world of Bloggerdom.

    You're okay though because I love you. But if you happen to...erm...feel a sharp pain or two shooting through various parts of your body, then... you know, feel free to take some..ahem..time off...

    Seriously though, I laughed so hard that I think that I may have peed myself a little.

  6. Fantastic as usual. And any blog that shows a person wearing a t-shirt from my favorite one-season show ever - MANIMAL - will always be sacred to me.

  7. MOV-You might be crazy.
    Dead architects no longer have feelings; they are well beyond the reach of your bullying.
    I am sorry to be the one tell you this.

    Jrose-I hate the inanimate too! Apparently, so does MOV. Plus, I think it is so funny that you secretly enjoyed pressing charges.


    SherilinR-sorry about that-I didn't realize how gross it was until I watched my wife look at it.

    lily-I am glad you liked it, but please don't make a voodoo doll of me. Pain makes me unbearably whiny and overdramatic. No one needs to see that.

    Marianne-thank you! I have no idea if they ever made manimal shirts, but the merchandising opportunity was there.

  8. If you ever decide to add a tagline to your blog, it's going to be a tough choice between "shave it fo do cote" or "fashy om moe koot".

    Also, I didn't know warts formed "colonies", but they're darn cute when they do apparently. Creepy, but cute.

  9. Alan-I read your comment about the tagline, and for a second I had no idea what your were talking about.
    Then I remembered my own picture.

    Just so you know, my wife thinks your comments are the best. She always laughs super hard at them, and when I am trying to respond, she says, "Don't try to be funny back to him, it doesn't work". So if I ever respond to you in an overtly somber manner, know that my wife is standing over me.

  10. This reminds me of my own Tough Girl days. I was planning to write a post about it, I'll link when I've got it ready. Solidarity among The Not Very Tough Toughs!

  11. Alan's comments are always awesome. That is why he got an award from me for it. They should publish a book of his comments!

  12. I was so small that school bullies never really bothered me. But the older neighbor kids just to the west of our house did. To this day I despise the last name "Weaver", and later in life when I learned of the pest named the Boll Weevil, I enjoyed equating Weevil with Weaver. I also lost my favorite dog who protected me from their abuse by biting a Weaver one day. The dog came to my rescue but my father wound up killing the dog. I never forgave him for that, and I have it in writing from my adolescent lousy penmanship. My friend also wrote an accompanying letter about the situation. It was the sixties, everyone was protesting. I just used a pen. My mother gave me the documents a few years ago. I love German Shepherds. High Velocity Lead Poisoning

  13. The last part of my comment is bizarre looking, and was not meant to imply that I love High Velocity Lead Poisoning. HVLP was the title of my blog post about the letters my mother gave me and was the method by how my dog died, sorry for any confusion. There is a punctuation mark right after the word Shepherd.

  14. Hahahahahaaaaahahahahaahahahahahaaa

    That's all.
    You just crack me up :)

    I've got to do my Kegel exercises whilst I read you! I'm so following....

  16. dirtycowgirl- thank you! I am glad.

    Charlotte-thanks for reading, glad you found me!

  17. Oh man! That wart colony cracked me up! I used to spar an older guy with some interesting skin lesions, but they didn't distract me as much as his bulbous red nose. No, he wasn't a clown. Though of all the things that I would like to punch in the nose, a clown would be right up there. Too creepy.