Friday, March 02, 2007

Barry's Motor

Our teacher, who I can barely remember at all, divided us into groups of three and, just my luck, I was in a trio with Barry, the spaz. I talked with the other boy in the group and Barry seemed preoccupied by his own leg so we were able to get our assignment done without interference. Of course we got bored and turned out attention to our the odd classmate in our midst even if wasn't kind enough to demand it.

"What are you doing?" I asked Barry, wondering why he was staring at his vibrating right leg.

"I've got a motor!" He practically shouted without looking up.

"What are you talking about?" the other boy asked him.

Barry explained to us that when he raised his right heel off the ground with the balls of his foot planted firmly he could find a kind of sweet spot that would start his leg vibrating involuntarily. Well, we gave it a try and we were both amazed. Barry had find something.

The teacher noticed the three of us vibrating our legs instead of doing the assignment. "What exactly is going on here?" she asked, and two of us topped immediately. Embarrassed we pretended to be engrossed in our books.

Barry, totally unashamed turned to her smiling and announced, "I have a motor!" expecting the teacher to be as impressed as his fellow students had been with his vibrating leg.

The teacher instead reached down and place her hand firmly on his knee stopped the vibrating. Barry looked horrified, tears formed in his face, he looked at his knee, at the teacher, at his knee and then, screaming "YOU BROKE MY MOTOR!" he smacked her across her face, hard, and ran from the room.

We were all in shock, so much so that I don't recall what happened immediately following Barry's departure. I do recall that the next day the word expelled was tossed about and speculated upon. Had anyone ever actually been expelled? Barry was gone for a couple of days, then came the weekend and then, on Monday, he was back. Perhaps because the teacher had indeed touched him first or maybe they'd upped his dosage, but whatever the reason, Barry was back and life went on.

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The Toughest Kid in The Second Grade

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.

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Coming Soon:
The I hate Vanessa club.
Oreo Cookie party.
Reading the Wizard of Oz.
Armando catches me with shit in my pants.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

First Grade

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...

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