Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Worst Frenemy

It may come as no surprise that I was the Worst Schoolboy Ever.  As a youth, I was as energetic as a newly released electron and just as dangerous.  A lot of the overwhelming energy was expressed in great violently physical confrontations. Me and my peers would flee the school right after the bell rang to do battle.

At the time I had a physique and demeanor that would probably have been described as "Scrappy."  I was small for my age - in the fifth grade, many of the girls were taller than me.  And because the sport that my parents chose to saddle me with was soccer, I never developed the physically impressive figure of a football player. So imagine if you will, a four foot tall terror with bulging calf muscles and a chest fit to cage birds in.  That was me, the smallest bully that ever existed in the halls of W.E. Cherry Elementary school.

Of course, our school wasn't very big.  There mustn't have been more than a few hundred kids in the entire school.  Everyone knew everyone else, more or less, in that obnoxious way that people always seem to think is a good idea on paper.  What this meant was that the people that you could actually fight were a relatively small pool.  I wasn't raised to pick on people smaller than me (which would have been impossible anyway) and picking a fight with someone above your grade level just seemed like suicide.  Nobody else in my class really had my aggression issues or a real urge to get a quick kick to the shins (a favorite tactic of mine, even today) - nobody except Ted.

Ted was a jerk.  A bit taller than me, probably a bit more handsome, and not very witty.  I remember he was the one that dubbed me "Turtle", a nickname that I would carry throughout school before HBO's Entourage ever made the idea of being called "Turtle" a good thing.  And so he made a perfect outlet for my midgety-rage.  We would fight like cats and dogs. 

At least once a week, for more than a year, we fought.  In class, where we sat only a chair removed from each other, we would spend more time plotting our next assault - some ingenious way to get the upper hand.  A detour taken on the way home from school to best maximize safety from an ambush.  A pair of boots asked for for a birthday, to get that edge in a fight.  One time he even leaped from a tree in a simulation of a flying elbow drop he picked up from WWF Raw.

Because of our seething hatred for each other it really came as a shock when I was invited to his birthday party.  My mother had gotten an invitation from his mother who had noticed that we spent so much time together, so we must be the best of friends.  Was she insane? Or just sadistic?  I never found out.  My mom insisted that I go - and worse, that I had to get him a present.  Mind you a week earlier this was the kid that was trying to punch my nose back into position from where it went crooked the week before that.

A birthday present? She was out of her goddamned mind.  I knew just what to do: I would get my mom to buy a really sweet and awesome present, and then run off from the party - my purloined present in hand - and come out smelling like roses.  I put on a wonderful act for my skeptical mother and convinced her to get a small RC Helicopter for the party present (Mom, all he ever talks about is how he likes awesome helicopters! I don't like them at all, but this one is the best, because it has a wireless remote...) 

But my chance to make a big escape never happened.  There was always a parent watching over us like prison wardens.  And something about the presence of cake and canned sodas took all the fight out of me.  I settled down and enjoyed the party.  I grudgingly gave my present (... it wasn't such a cool helicopter anyway... not even with its wireless remote and authentic looking rocket pods..).  I enjoyed myself quite a lot - and we even agreed to trade Nintendo games afterwards.

The next week, I punched him in the throat at the water fountain.

I'm not sure what the moral of the story is, but it probably has something to do with helicopters.

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