In second grade I met Barry. Barry was a spaz. Barry was hyperactive. This was a new word, hyperactive; it sounded so clinical. I wasn't sure what the difference was between hyperactive and retarded, but the retarded kids had their own class and Barry was in with us. He seemed able to do the work, which amazed me. If he was smart enough to do math, why couldn't he figure out how not to act so stupid? I didn't dislike Barry, even though he was was a Jehovah's Witness and thereby associated with The Jennies. But he freaked me out a little in how apparent it was that something was wrong with him. They had him on special pills and he'd leave class to go take them. I wondered what he'd have been like without these pills if he was this crazy while on them.
I didn't fight with Barry. I continued to fight though. My brother's, Edward and Erick stood in the driveway one day talking loudly.
"So, who do you think is the toughest kid in the Second grade?" Erick asked.
"Steve." Edward answered without pause.
Steve? Bullshit. Steve came from a tough family. They were Samoan, which was very exotic to us, and there were wild stories about the older brothers, like the one where they lifted up their dad's car allowing him to change a tire without using a jack. Steve was nothing like his brothers. Steve was a bookworm. Steve taught me to play chess. To prove my brother's wrong, I kicked Steve's ass.
"Well, I guess Steve wasn't that tough." Erick observed thoughtfully.
"Yeah, I guess not." Edward agreed. I was pleased, sure that I now held the title of toughest kid in the second grade. "Aton's pretty tough though. I bet Aton is the toughest kid in the second grade. "
Poor Aton had no idea why he got his ass kicked, and I certainly didn't take the time to tell him. He was tougher than Steve, but not really much of a challenge. He was a bit of a prick too, so I didn't feel as bad about beating him down.
Edward and Erick played me like top until at last they came to Roger. Roger wasn't in my class and I'd never interacted with him. He was mysterious and intriguing and maybe even a bit intimidating. But I was, at long last, beginning to smarten up to my brother's trick. Mom was wondering why I'd backslid into fighting on an almost daily basis again. She had no idea that her scheming sons had taken on the role of fight promoters. I decided I was done, that Roger could have the title and Edward at least accepted it. He joined me in a favorite past time, jumping on mom and dad's bed.
Part of the jumping on the bed tradition was of course shoving each other off of the bed. I was getting enough air to smack the ceiling when Edward gave me a good push. My face collided with a corner of dad's nightstand. I'd often snuck peaks at the playboys that would hide in this nightstand. I was pretty sure this was related. I had a huge bump on my head and a black eye to boot, which, once it quit hurting, was pretty damn cool.
I went to school with the black eye, walking with pride, and in the restroom where we all hung out before class I was the center of attention. Roger noticed the crowd around me and my black eye and he took credit for it.
"What? I got this jumpin' on the bed." I snapped back.
"Bullshit you fuckin' pussy. I kicked your fucking ass and I'll do it again mother fucker." If I wasn't intimidated before I certainly was now. I'd never heard such potty mouth. In fact, I'd prided myself on being a pretty good curser before hearing this. I didn't know what to say, so I punched in his face.
I kicked Roger's ass fairly easily. It was my first experience with someone who succeeded at maintaining the respect and fear afforded a bully strictly by his swagger. It of course wouldn't be my last.
The bathrooms were great for fighting and getting away with it as teachers rarely ventured in. That's about all they were good for. The stalls had no doors so taking a crap was out of the question. I never wanted to be that red faced kid doing his business before an audience of pointing giggling classmates. No, I'd just hold it and if I had to go too badly I'd see the nurse and use her bathroom while I was there complaining of a stomach ache. If it was too late and I'd shit myself I'd have the nurse call my mom to pick me up. You don't argue with a kid who has shit in his pants.
Shitting myself didn't happen too often, but I was still pissing my bed regularly and I'd become all too aware that I was behind my peers in this department. Was I retarded I wondered. My friend Jamie's mom cared for retarded people and I would talk to them wondering if they knew they retarded. If they didn't, it meant I might be similarly unaware.
The I hate Vanessa club.
Oreo Cookie party.
Reading the Wizard of Oz.
Armando catches me with shit in my pants.