Misspent Youth

At some point in starting this writing exercise I said I would re-tell old stories – stories most of you have heard at one point or another. So, since I’m out of ideas thanks to no one doing anything interesting at the moment (like sending crazed birds at my windshield) I’ll tell an old one.

Some people divide the world of toddlers into two groups – those that express themselves verbally and those that express themselves physically. I fell into the latter group and in fact I still do. The great irony is that I’m neither strong nor wily. In a fight, I’m the person you don’t want at your side. In fact, I’m the person you want thrown into the middle as a distraction while everyone else runs. Still, it doesn’t take away that I probably should have grown up to be a thug and not a lawyer. Unfortunately, Charla (my stepmother) entered my life and forced me to focus on my language skills, made me forge ahead in school and laid down rules that usually excluded my seedier friends. For some unknown reason Charla thought I had a brain and should make use of that.

Still to this day if someone gets a bit too mouthy and tries to entangle me with a shower of complicated words and twisted logic, my first instinct is to hit them. My reptilian brain does not say, “oh clever you, I shall be like Socrates and turn your words upon you” – no, it says, “if you pop them in the forehead they’ll stop speaking and we can go back to a relaxing day of knuckle dragging.” Again, I was cursed with having no upper body strength so no one would notice if I took a swing. I’ve probably beaten up everyone I know, but they haven’t noticed, yet. Such is my lot.

There’s the background you need for an old story. In first grade I hated one little girl named Julia who ruled my neighborhood by virtue of living there longer. I wish I could tell you why I despised her, but I honestly don’t remember. Some of it could have to do with a boy named Jeff who wanted to be my best friend not hers he just wasn’t aware of it.

On a particular sunny day in the early 1970’s Julia and I decided it was about time to square off. Julia suggested a water gun fight. That sounded good, but it’s water… water isn’t going to hurt you so I threw out something about having a chemistry set and how we needed to make the battle more interesting. Her brother had one, too so Julia was in. Off I ran back home and began pouring chemicals at random into the water in my water gun. Unfortunately, my Mother came in, emptied the gun, filled it with plain water and sent me back outside. I tried reasoning with her, “Julia is going to have chemicals in HERS!” but Mom wouldn’t listen.

There I stood in the middle of the street, high noon on Mariposa St. with just my water filled gun when Julia moseyed out. I tried talking my way out of the fight, but like I said I wasn’t a “verbal” kid. Julia just laughed and said, “Yeah, well my mom didn’t catch me.” Let’s just end this and say not only was I completely screwed, I had to see a nurse afterwards to check out my eyes. Julia was a good shot. I wish I could say I took away some sort of lesson, but really what I learned was that when it comes to introducing chemicals into a water gun fight you need to be more secretive. I’m still bitter about the outcome and hold it completely against my Mom. Your first grade street cred goes down when you bring water to an acid fight.

The rest of my youth was spent skipping, singing, holding hands and mud bombing Julia’s grandparent’s Model T Ford. Hey, revenge is sweet.

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