Timmy was nuts. That's what they said about him. He's crazy. Well, I didn't see what was so crazy about him. He dressed cool; Sweater vests over clean white dress shirts, and dark gray curly hair. Not many first graders had dark gray hair. I couldn't beat him in the fashion department, but surely I was crazier. Crazy meant brave. Crazy got you attention. Crazy was supposed to be my thing. Screw Timmy.
So, I took the seat next to Timmy on the swing set. He definitely had some craziness going for him. He jumped out of the swing backwards; I jumped out of the swing backwards. He jumped from a crazy height, I went even higher. Timmy did a flip, I did a flip. Timmy did a backwards flip, I beat the hell out of Timmy.
I kicked a-lot of ass that year. Find what you're good at they say. I figured out early that having three older brothers pounding on me all the time left me pretty good at kicking ass, not their's of course, but damn near everyone else's. Timmy was actually a challenge and I thought for a second he might have me. He was really strong but once I realized that I was dealing with a formidable foe for once, I turned my efforts up a notch and started taking face shots.
Most kids couldn't keep going once you hit them in the face. Timmy was of the freak out type. When I hit Timmy in the face he just went ape shit. The freak out could lend a kid extra strength and it was hard to strategize against, but if you kept your cool a kid on a freak out wasn't likely to land any good shots and they'd leave themselves wide open. The worse part was wondering how many times you'd have to hit a kid before the freak out would give way to the crying and running away. Timmy was a lot like me and it wasn't likely that he was going to quit no matter how many times I nailed him, so eventually I got him in a headlock and squeezed, holding him in this position until a teacher came and broke it up.
I can remember Ms. Takanaka describing to my mom how it would happen. I'd be playing with another kid, they'd do something I didn't like and I'd deck them. Or another kid would get upset with me and push me and I'd punch them in the mouth. My brothers had taught me not to bother with pushing. If you're going to fight get that first punch in. That first punch, more often than not decides it. Rule number two; once that first punch is thrown you don't stop punching until you know you've won the fight.
I always felt terrible after beating another kid up. I knew it was humiliating to lose a fight. It was humiliating to lose to my brothers and that's why I'd never back down, charging them again and again no matter how badly they put it to me, until finally they'd have to give up and lock me in my room since they weren't quite willing to kill me. I was well aware that humiliation was the worst. I did not like to be humiliated. If someone laughed at something I did that I hadn't intended to be funny I'd get embarrassed and then I'd get furious.
So I kicked my classmates asses and then, feeling guilty, I'd become friends with them. Eventually my ass kicking slowed down. I'd become friends with half of the boys and the other half learned to stay away from me.
Mom and Ms. Takanaka were sure I was just getting adjusted. I would do fine. After all; I did enjoy school. Ms. Takanaka and her beautiful younger sister taught us about Japanese and Hawaiian culture. We had a special day when she brought in a long, low table and we all sat on the ground to eat special Hawaiian barbecue that her brother prepared. The Takanaka's were a big family and they reminded me a-lot of the Osmonds from television Mostly their perfect hair and big smiles.
When I wasn't fighting, I spent my time reading. I couldn't get enough. See Dick Run, seemed rather pointless but our weekly trips to the school library allowed me to load up on more fulfilling reading material. Not only were there books based on Star Wars, there were clever books about Pokey Little Puppies, and baby birds looking for their mamas. The best were the Cat In The Hat books. I couldn't get enough of these; Red Fish, Blue Fish, If I Ran The Zoo, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb.
I wanted to read all the time. I couldn't be bothered with math which seemed utterly pointless. I didn't really have much time to spend worrying about how many apples I'd have left if I gave away two. I rarely had more than one apple to my name and one was all I needed. If they'd thought to teach us five Star Wars action figures plus two Star Wars action figures I might be a mathematician today. As it was, I did well enough. Mom worried a little, but there was no need for alarm. I was coming along fine, just getting adjusted, that's all...