This post was written for my nemesis Caroline Thompson at Teenage Wasteland. We frequently have boss battles which tower over Downtown Minneapolis and end in the destruction of many iconic structures. And then, we do happy hour.
Elementary school at Horace Mann kept me within a physical bound – Saint Catherines to the North, Highland Parkway to the South, Fairview to the East, and Cleveland to the West. It was only 20 square blocks. This was my world. I was within the safety of knowing that I was always close to home. My parents saw me leave in the morning and my Mom would be home when I got home. They were almost always close. Safe.
My choice for middle school was between two amicable institutions – of which I knew nothing about in regards to academics or atmosphere – Ramsey or Highland Junior. I had two points of confliction. I had a great group of friends at Horace Mann and most of them were going Highland Park. They had their reasons, older siblings, proximity, parents not giving them a choice, but these reasons had no barring on my decision. It was completely social. I had an equally great group of friends at the Jewish Community Center – another point of confliction, because I was not Jewish… as far as I could tell.
I followed a portion of my friends from the JCC to Ramsey Junior High, mostly in part to my actually Jewish friend Aaron. So there it was, Ramsey Junior, the ascendence to adulthood. Innocence lost. My elementary years we even punctuated with The Graduation Song by Vitamin C (Horace Mann Class of ’01 woo). I was really taking a big step here.
The most reasonat feeling I garnered from my Junior High experience was the avoidance of conflict. I was a sensitive kid and as such I was always acutely paranoid that someone was setting me up. When somebody asked if I wanted to do something after school, I had a sensational notion that the end game of this invitation was to pants me and leave me in a heap of humiliation. This never materialized, but I was ready. Really, I was the only one who brought on any confrontation.
That One Time I Punched a 12-year Old in the Head and Felt Awesome
I got in one fight and this was once I got into the bourgeoisie class of Junior High – Eighth Grade.
In accordance with the true norm of adolescence, pointing out any obvious flaw in anyone, I was making fun of this new annoying little kid, once again fuckin’ sevies gahhhd, because he had a clef lip which affected his nose structure causing it to be indented. He was constantly invading our circles during passing time and trying to insult us. He was obviously unsuccessful, we were the shit. Despite my avoidance of confrontation, I decided to capitalize on an opportunity to tell a hilarious joke at someones expense.
It was lunch. We were awesome Eighth graders so we all sat together and made the lunch room quiver. After thoroughly making sure Cory, annoying sevie, was not near, I folded my nose down, crossed my eyes, and asked the group, “Who am I?” He was apparently lurking right behind me, like many kids did, because, we were the shit. Oh man. Faces lit up at my table and he tapped me on the shoulder with a look of malice and what the fuck did you just say on his face. This was a Monday. I had gym with him next.
In gym, he made it very clear, he was going to kick my ass. He was probably about 5 feet tall, pushing 110 pounds. Albeit, I was no beast either, I was probably 5’4″ around 135 pounds. We set a date, Friday. After school. Literally, we were to meet after school at the flagpole on Friday. We set the date on Monday.
All week, I was a nervous wreck. Confrontation had just been thrust into my young life and it was all my fault. I went through so many different scenarios
What if I just apologize? Pussy…
What if I actually hurt him? Cops… MY PARENTS….
What if I just run away? Pussy…
Tell a teacher? Teachers hate students…..
I WAS SO CONFLICTED. Although, there was only one obvious choice. Get it over with. Fights are dumb, but if I must recant for my insult by defending my honor, I shall.
The valor scenario had prevailed. The week dragged on, like, you know that scene in Garden State, when Za(c?)k Braff takes ecstasy at that party and the world is moving along beside him, but he, metaphorically of course, doesn’t move? It was kind of like that, but the metaphor is that the week was happening, but I was not reacting to anything, because I was debilitated with anxiety and nerves.
At any rate, the fight had to be had. People were talking. Everyone was excited. The fight day came and the school day was over. I stood outside awaiting the arrival of my adversary, practicing drop kicks, having people massage my shoulders as if I was a prize fighter, getting motivational speeches, and generally just loitering like we did everyday after school. Funny, isn’t it, how much we loathed Ramsey, but we decided it to be a great pass time to hang out there for hours after school was out. Anyways, Cory, the little sevie, was in detention. 2:45 comes and he rolls out with his posse.
Oh shit. It is really going down.
People circled up around us as he got closer.
He threw a punch and, as the rules of engagement were paramount to this fight, I obliged with returning fire. A total of 5 blows were dealt. And it was over. He ran away. It lasted maybe 10 seconds. I ran to HQ – Risi Minni’s the Pizza Place down the block where one person would buy a piece of pizza and the rest of us, usually 15 of us, would pour parmesan on the table to write our names. Someone told me that UCs – undercover cops – were looking for me. They said they were looking for a kid in a blue jacket. IN A FLASH, I reversed my awesome puffy reversible jacket to Yellow. I was off scott free and won the fight. I was the champion of the day! Valor wins!
See Caroline and I drunk, and arguing about which is cooler, Katherine Heigl’s E-Cig or the fat suit which inspired Mrs. Doubtfire, but spurred Eddie Murphy’s late career nose dive, at the Library Bar on Thursdays.