My Totally Normal Feelings About Mitchell Trubisky

mitch trub

I remember the when and I remember the where,
When I saw the drafting of a brand new Bear.
Like many people, I was angry. Upset.
Who was this kid we’d traded other draft picks to get?


mirerThis sounded too familiar, like a sad, sad song.
Rick Mirer and Jay Cutler- so glad that they’re gone!
I know we didn’t draft ’em, but when the Bears went after ’em,
They gave away the farm, causing years of harm.



And now Cutler’s out! He took his pout
To Miami
Where their fans can now scream
At their TVs
While they lose in a route!


elton-johnSad songs they say so much, and now I wanna turn it on!
Because I’ve seen the kid play,
And I’ve gotta say,
He looks like the one that we’ve waited for so long- for!
Really high ceiling and really high floor.
I can’t wait to see more.

I’m trying to temper my excitement, because I know that we’ve been burned.
I get hopeful for every new guy, so strongly we’ve yearned
For a leader of this team-
We like to dream
That at long last our fortunes have turned.


But what about Mike Glennon?
We brought him in.
Gave him fifteen million dollars for the twenty games he’d been in.
And it’s true, he must be feeling deja vu,
People looking right passed him for the shiny and new.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Diego Chargers

Another rookie breathing down his ample neck,
But what the heck?
I think he’ll prob’ly feel fine when he’s cashing his checks.
The contract he scored can allow him to afford
Some time for his pride to be restored
While he holds the award
Of the sideline clipboard.


beastie boysI hope he stays quiet and doesn’t cause tension.
Did I mention
The Bears should already give the rookie a contract extension?
They look like they got him from another dimension
Another dimension, another dimension,
Another dimension, another dimension.

They shouldn’t sit ‘im.
They traded up to get ‘im.ring
Go ahead and measure his finger,
Let’s make sure the ring will fit ‘im.



Whoa. Calm it down, Brad.
Don’t do it again.
You seem to have forgotten the other men who wore ten.Arizona Cardinals v Chicago Bears


Whatchoo talking ’bout, Peter Tom Willis?
He used to kill us.
Throwing 4-yard passes, the man never thrilled us.

kordell stewart

Kordell Stewart was a thriller.
But just another filler.
“Slash” could run, catch, and toss it,
But look in the book at his record-
He had too few wins, slash, too many losses.

NFL: Chicago Bears-OTA

Yeah, but this one isn’t just more of the same.
He’s got game.
You can see the ability and humility,
I hop Fox isn’t too blind to see
That this kid has- IT.

I’m not sure what IT is, but I know it when I see it.
And you believe it- I guarantee it
When I say that we hit
The lottery with this pick.

terminator“But there were other choices!”,
Say some voices.
Mahomes, Watson, Kizer- all picked later.
Speculate who might be greater,
But we got The Terminator.

Killing Lions and Vikings and the stupid hated Pack.
We owe some payback.TO_crying
Let’s cruise our new Cadillac
While I’m sitting at home,
Eating popcorn,
Crying like T.O.,
Saying “That’s my quarterback”

So play him, Fox! I know he’s young, but risk it!
The team is broke, and they brought him in to fix it!
I’m thinking I might even wanna buy some tickets
To watch the kid throwing touchdowns, serving up Trubiscuits.

iron mikeYour cautious approach is total nonsense,
Your ancient concepts
Hold back this offense
Like Iron Mike, you just make old-guy comments
Talking like you’re getting dementia onsets.

Whoa, Brad- it’s sacrilege, what you say.
Nobody’s allowed to speak of Iron Mike that way.
It’s cool. It’s not like Ditka
Would admit ta
Being the reason that the Bears hit the-

mcmahonWall. His offense stalled.
He wouldn’t let his quarterback throw the damn ball.
And if McMahon did, he received flack,
Hafta duck and step back.
Ditka throwing clipboards like a maniac,
And having cardiac attacks.

paytonWhat I’m sayin’
Is he was wastin’
The prime years of Payton,
Makin’ him bring home too much bacon
And eventually it did break ‘im.


mitch 7So Fox, make the switch to Mitch.
Nope, you call him Mitchell.
‘Cause that’s what his mom named him.
I’m so glad she made him
And raised him
Now, Fox, you should unchain him
So him can win some games ‘n
We can all acclaim him!


It will be beneficial
When it’s official
That our starting guy is Mitchell
And he is throwing missiles
Making winning look so simple
And cheering while I’m naked is my new gameday ritual……………….

mitch 2ahem…. I mean…..

He’s the new man in Chicago
And talk about a deep dish.
I’m not sheepish,
I’m feeling fiendish,
And if I were granted my wish
He’d be my new favorite collection.

All I have for Mitchell is a manly affection.
I merely think that it would be a better direction
If Fox made him our current QB selection,
I will be the loudest part of his cheering section.
The thought of winning is the only reason I have this erection.
I’ve got a funny feeling, do I have an infection?
… Just look at him, he’s perfection
Perfect skin tone and complexion
You see him flexin’?
What I’d give to be the undershirt that gets to hold his pecs in……………….

er…. what I’m trying to say is…..

mitch 1Ugh, okay, forget it
I confess.
I’m obsessed.
When I watch my Mitchie playing, he makes me wanna undress.
Yes, I digress.
But I can’t deny the feelings that I’ve been trying to suppress.
I’ll just get more excited when I watch him have success.
I’m one hundred percent completely aboard the Trubisky Express.

So what do you think of that?
You don’t know?
I guess I don’t care.

Now hear my flow.

mitch 6Let me tell you why I’m crushing on Mitchell Trubisky.
He throws the ball so pretty and in the pocket he’s shifty.
When I think about him as a Bear, my eyes get all misty.
The Bears haven’t a good QB since the 1960’s.
His play’s convincing.
And we’ll be existing
In a world where all the records he’s eclipsing.
We fans’ll be
Like a wild group of banshees
Watching him make swiss cheese
Of green and gold sleaze
Having them on their knees
Crying, “Please, no, please!”

ryan paceRyan Pace is a draft king.
He should be asking
The McCaskeys
For a contract everlasting.
Then start relaxing and basking
Because the guy he got is already surpassing
Them all.
I wanna be his center and never hike the ball.

Oh, Trubisky.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears

Trading up to get him was risky,
But he’ll win briskly,
In Chicago, he’ll get this key
To the city,
And please McCaskeys,
And I can see
Getting handsy
Like Roman Polansky.
mitch 5My wife thinks he
May need
The CPD to police me.
I’m feeling frisky,
I’ll pour him whisky,
Hoping to get him tipsy
And maybe wanna kiss me.
We’ll make history
When he whisks me
Away and we have fun…………….…….


Mitch Trubisky

I know that his reign hasn’t even begun,
But years down the line, at the end of his run,
When his games are all done and his victories won,
His hands full of rings, he’ll ride into the sun.

And we’ll say, that of The Bears,
He was the greatest one.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Thrilling Eclipse



Darkness falls across the land.
The noon time hour is close at hand.
Creatures crawl in search of glasses.
To watch the event before it passes.
And whosoever shall be found,
Without dark filters facially-bound,
Will stand and face the hiding sun,
But still their retinas come undone.
The blind, they’re reaching in the air.
They ignored the warnings of thousands of years.
And now these fools without eye tools will never again see the moon.
And though the others can still see fine, the blinded attack the living.
For the one thing no one could predict,
Is the blinded became zombie killers!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Awkwardness

There are times when all the world’s asleep,
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.

The Logic Song by Supertramp


These lyrics speak to me. It’s funny.. I remember that I used to try to figure out a way to shut off my brain, while lying in bed at night. That happened to me recently, when I was starting to get a bad headache, because the thoughts were running wild. And so I lie there, and tried an old trick: Imagine a completely white space. Not an image of a white page, but a place where it’s just bright white. Everything is blank… And while I was lying there, imagining this bright white place, a thought disturbed me. I asked myself, “Hey, why do you imagine a bright white place? That doesn’t seem very relaxing. Try imagining a completely dark place. That would seem to be more conducive to a peaceful rest!”.. So I tried that. And then I was quickly reminded as to why that doesn’t work. When I imagined the completely black place, I started to hear my own voice. It said, “Mork calling Orson. Come in, Orson.” And then an image fades in of me wearing a red Orkan jump suit, calling for Orson in the complete dark. And so I go back to imagining a bright white space, and I eventually relax.


“Mork calling Orson, come in Orson. Let me tell you what I learned about humans today.”

Mork and I have a lot in common. Those lyrics above fit him very well, too. I’ve often felt like an alien, trying to figure out other people in this world. I spend a lot of time up in my head. Too much time, some would say… My wife would say. It’s a good and bad thing, I suppose. It’s good because the world is complicated, and I continually strive to understand it. It’s bad because I continually fail. There are some topics that I think I’ve finally reached a conclusion about, after years of internal debate and contemplation; and there are some that I may never figure out. I’ve decided to share some of what goes on in my brain. I don’t know how far I’ll go with all of this, since some of my philosophical quests reach dark and controversial places. But who knows? I may just say ‘screw it!’ and throw it all out there. Anyway, I’m gonna start this off really light, and talk about my social awkwardness.

Of all the things that confound me in life, the complexities of human social dynamics are at the top of the list. Now, people who don’t know me very well may not have guessed that. Over my years, I have matured and learned to fake it; but in my mind, there is a near-continuous dialogue, panicking about nearly every aspect of any given social interaction. I often use humor to deflect these insecurities. If that goes awry, I usually try to gracefully flee. If humor works, I feel like I deserve a Nobel Prize.

I recently went to a going away party for a co-worker at a social establishment. I do this (going out) every once in a great while, because I like these people, and I don’t want everyone to think that I’m a complete snob. It had been at least two years since I last hung out with people at a bar, who weren’t my folks or brother. It didn’t take long for me to remember why I so rarely do it. The following are several conversations I had inside my head during the course of the evening:


Me at the bar.

Ugh. They’re finishing eating now. Should I just walk in, or should I stop and greet everyone? Should I greet them individually, or as a group? I don’t want to come off like I think I’m important. Eh, I’m just gonna walk by them over to that chair and sit down……. That felt awkward and wrong. I suck at life.

There’s the guest of honor. Should I give her a hug hello? I just saw her at work, recently, so that seems weird to greet her as if it’s been so long. I don’t hug her hello at work. But it’s almost like we’re all different people now, who haven’t seen each other in a long time, because we’re in different clothes and more happy. Her husband is sitting right there. Is it cool to hug her right in front of him? He’s pretty big and hunky. Oh crap, she looks like she’s lifting an arm, expectantly for a hug. What’s the proper way to hug a woman right in front of her hunky husband?.. I’ll just put one arm up over her shoulder and kind of lean in sideways with very minimal contact…. And no punch in the gut. I must have done good.

Well, maybe I can just go home… oh. They’re all going upstairs and I would look like a tool if I just came and left after a hug.

Ah hell, the bartender walked away before I could tip him. I don’t want to leave my dollar here. Some schmuck might take it, then the bartender won’t know that I tipped him. Ugh, why are you calling him back just to take the dollar?! He’s clearly very busy, and he looks more annoyed than appreciative!

I feel like me putting the other dollars into my wallet looks stupid. I should have just casually shoved them into my front pocket while taking a sip. Cool move opportunity lost.

I’ve had this shirt for years. I pretty much wear it whenever I go out for social things. Is it getting too tight over my middle? That section is shaped differently than when I bought this shirt.

How should I hold my beer? Is this too close, like I’m guarding it, or caressing it? Is this too far, like I’m offering it to others, or proposing a toast?.. I’m an idiot.

– What do I do with my non-drinking hand? I never know where to put it. Hmm, I’ll put it in my back pocket…. Does that look gay?… Wait, is that offensive?… Am I allowed to even think that?

– I really can’t hear what this person is saying. I’m going to just nod and smile or chuckle at random moments. Wait… they stopped and appear to be expecting a response. What do I say?

I can’t believe you just told her that you couldn’t hear anything she said! Now she knows you were just nodding and smiling like an imbecile the whole time!

I just made eye contact with a male. How long should I hold it? I don’t want to come off as challenging or aggressive. But I also don’t want to avert my eyes too quickly and appear overly submissive… Ugh.. I aborted way too quickly. I may as well lie down and roll over onto my back, exposing my tender belly to him…. I really should have been born a more simple creature.

I just made eye contact with a female. How long should I hold it? I don’t want to hold it too long and come off as a creep. But I don’t want to seem rude, looking away too quickly. Wait… did she smile? Should I smile back? Should I raise my beer in a dippy salute? Is it okay to smile, since I’m married? Should I feel guilty about it? Should I just take my stupid hand out of my stupid back pocket and wave?… Oh my god.. I’ve been staring at her, not smiling this whole time! She definitely thinks I’m a serial killer! Look away, man! Look away!!

This person is offering me a sip of their beer. It seems a very nice gesture, as it is both a kind offering, as well as a suggestion that they trust that my mouth germs are not alarmingly toxic. I will sip their beer….. damn. That’s way better than my beer. Would it be weird if I took another sip? Should I be more of a germaphobe?

Was that comment inappropriate? I guess not, they’re laughing. Or are they laughing nervously because they think I’m crazy?

This female just hit me and laughed… Should I hit her back? With how much force? I don’t want to hurt her or spill her beer… but I don’t want it to seem like a light, flirty hit… Screw it, I’m keeping my hand to myself… in my stupid back pocket… I’m so gay.

My daughter really wanted to play Battleship with me tonight. Why didn’t I just stay home and do that? I’m a bad father.

These people all look like this is so easy. Do any of them constantly question themselves in public?

I survived! This was fun! I should do this more often!



The non-beer hand… How smooth am I?

That was all just during one 2-hour party. And that was just the stuff I could remember thinking. I’m sure there were more neurotic ramblings in my head that night, that I couldn’t recall. I wasn’t always like this. When I was young, I was aware that I wasn’t “cool”, but I didn’t really worry too much about what people thought about me. I didn’t wear the clothes the cool kids wore. My walk was stiff and quick, with minimal arm-swing, not casual or laid back. I was eager to please teachers and authority figures, not rebelling against them just for the sake of rebellion, or to gain points with classmates. I don’t know, I guess I was pretty nerdy. But the thing is that I really LIKED people… so I put in some effort in trying to learn how to act. I think that’s when I started getting mental about it. I have found it difficult, through most of my life, to navigate the many pitfalls of common social decorum. You humans are so complicated! Recently, somebody told me that I say ‘sorry’ too much. And then it occurred to me that I say ‘sorry’ too much. And that’s because I am always so uncertain about whether whatever words I say or actions I do upset somebody. The same thing that you say or do to/for one person, who exhibits appreciation of it, may completely offend another person. I’ll give an example.

Have you ever held the door open for a stranger who was entering a building behind you, and they expressed gratitude? I bet you have. Now, have you ever held the door open for a stranger who was entering a building behind you, but they were kind of strolling slowly along, and then they see you holding the door, and kind of do a half eye-roll, and pick up their pace, as if you holding the door open for them just put them completely out? And then they don’t thank you, or they say ‘thanks’ in a pissy, sarcastic manner?… That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about. In fact, I still haven’t figured out the complicated math equation for door-holding. There are so many factors, and my math just isn’t that quick. When approaching a door, you have to be aware of if anyone else is behind you. If so, you have to attempt to calculate their walking speed, distance from the door, demeanor, and possible variances in cadence, before deciding if you think you should hold the door open for them. I’ve missed all over that equation. Sometimes I hold it and realize that they really are far away and going slow. And then it’s an awkward situation where they feel compelled to pick up their pace, just to make me feel like less of a tool. Other times, I’ve miscalculated the other way. Perhaps they’re going faster than I realize, or they pick up the pace when I turn around to the door; but I let it swing shut behind me, and notice it shuts almost right in front of them. Then I


Me trying to determine if I should hold the door for someone walking behind me.

say “I’m so sorry!”…. like I so often do. I need to develop an app for that. They have tip calculators, right? I need a door-holding calculator.


Other walking situations are awkward for me, as well. I am usually a fast walker. And, as we’ve established, I’m often in my own head. As a result, I’m that creepy guy who walks too close to you, sometimes. I don’t mean to do it. I’m often only half paying attention to where I’m going, and then I notice someone turn their head around, while walking, and notice me practically up their ass. It’s not intentional, but I recognize the uncomfortableness of it, and offer an embarrassed apology… and then try to figure out if I should speed walk around them, awkwardly, or slow way down and allow space to build between us. Ugh.

Another very awkward situation for me is when you say goodbye to someone or some people, and you leave… and then you realize you forgot something in that room. You have to go back in the room for the keys, or whatever, but then.. are you supposed to pretend that the person is no longer in there? Do you say goodbye again? You already said it once, and then lied to them, by immediately returning. But it kind of seems rude to just pretend that they’re not there when you return. When someone else does it, I usually ignore them, because I’m imagining how that situation messes with my mind. This situation is especially awkward if it’s a particularly emotional goodbye. Like, you’re not gonna see the person, who is very close to you, for a long time. That happened to me once. I had to go back for something, and I felt like I utterly betrayed the power and the beauty of the heartfelt goodbye I had received. I’d rather just leave the keys behind, than go through that again. I’ll walk to the airport.


…. It’s occurring to me that I’ve kind of gotten off point, and this is pretty poorly organized. Writing is hard for me, because I daydream multiple times while writing. It takes me several days to write something, and it’s because I have such a hard time sustaining a train of thought. Anyway, I’m not going back to rewrite, so deal with it!

I think what I was trying to say before, is that I’ve attempted to simplify my social life, over the years, to mostly avoid the stress of performing so badly at it. For most of my young life, I mostly clung to rules and order, because they are simple and don’t add to my social confusion. Life is simple if you’re “supposed to” do this or that. I’ve learned that this approach isn’t always appropriate, but it was difficult for me to learn.

My difficulties with understanding human social behavior, and my desire for simplicity and order, are likely what made me fall in love with TV/movies/video games. I can observe characters. I don’t have to deal with them. Some of my favorite characters have been ones who share my apparent confusion over human behavior.

I remember a movie called Star Man, when I was a kid, starring Jeff Bridges. He was similar to Mork, in that he was an alien that was trying to figure out how to act around humans on the fly. It’s where I learned that red means ‘stop’, green means ‘go’, and yellow means ‘go really, really fast’.

Forrest Gump is, perhaps, my favorite movie of all time. The notion that this very simple man, who lived by very simple tenets, was able to approach the world, with all of its complexities, and conquer life while making people realize, (including his Jenny), that maybe the simple truths in life, and the simple principles of love and honesty, are the ones truly worth  clinging to. We learn it as children, and he always saw the world as a child. Also, I liked the idea that maybe, through my awkward and accidental bumblings


My expression through much of my life, when attempting to comprehend human behavior.

through life, perhaps I have been greatly influencing history, unbeknownst to me.


My brother says that I would relate to Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, also. I’ve only seen parts of that show, but I think my brother is totally right. I relate to that guy.

I had many clashes with my family, when I was younger, because they often found rules and order mundane. They were much more comfortable with questioning questionable rules. I’m thankful that I learned that from them. In fact, despite my recent adventurous foray into the public drinking establishment, I usually just go to my folks’ place to drink and socialize, because they get me, and we always have a great time together. I feel bad, because they’re really the ONLY ones who get me well enough for me to share pretty much anything that’s on my mind. As a result, whenever I go over there, I unload a torrent of word vomit all over them, because my non-stop thinking just can’t be contained, and it needs an outlet. My parents and my brother are the unfortunate recipients. But I love them for bearing with me through this journey of life.


I guess it’s fitting that I end it here. Because it feels awkward and wrong. I have lots more to say about this, but I’m all over the map now, so I’ll just save some for later. I really wanted to touch more on the awkwardness of my interactions with same sex and opposite sex peoples, and my observations there. I think there’s enough for its own whole post, so I’ll be back to talk about that another time.

Until then, this is Brad signing off.





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog Post of a Wimpy Kid: The High School Years

If I thought that my young childhood fights and bullies were rough, I was about to find out that there was a whole new level in store for me. Junior high school is when kids really start pushing their boundaries, and when they start separating into groups. Now, popular movies of the time would have had me believe that it was as simple as being labeled either a nerd or a jock. And some of these movies would have had me believe that it was as simple as giving money to a popular girl to be able to change which group I belonged to. And maybe one of these characters made it seem like you could just give a sensible speech to mindless bully jocks and they would slow clap you into their good graces. None of this was true. Especially the part when the nerdy lawnmower driver went on to be a McDreamy


Bullies of the late 80’s would assault you while wearing these clothes. Double humiliating.

doctor. No, junior high school was a veritable landmine of bully opportunities for me, and high school wasn’t much better. I left off last post with my family in a small upstate New York village, surrounded by woods and me going to a tiny kindergarten through 12th grade school. My dad was recruiting for the army during those years, working in Oneonta, but he had grown tired of recruiting and wanted to get back to real military life. And my folks missed Germany, so back we went!…


Welcome to the Jungle It Gets Worse Here Everyday.
You Learn to Live Like an Animal in the Jungle Where We Play.

I wrote before about how it was a bit of a culture shock moving to the small village of Morris after having spent my eleven years, to that point, moving frequently from one city to the next. But after three years of the slow, quiet life in the woods up on Harris Hill Road, I wasn’t prepared for the culture shock I would experience when we reentered real military life and moved to Frankfurt, Germany. My dad had already been in Germany for four months before the rest of us came over (it takes a while for family housing to open up), and I remember arriving on that first day. There were several military housing complexes, and we started off in one called Platen, but they’re all pretty much the same. Several large, long buildings, separated by small parking areas between them. The buildings had three doors to enter and each door accessed a set of eight apartments. The apartments at the top of the building were “temp” housing. It’s where families would start off until something else opened up, presumably because temp housing wasn’t very desirable. The ceiling was low and slanted and there was only a tiny window in the living/kitchen area, as if we were in an attic. There was a very long hall of wooden flooring with eight rooms- four on each side, exactly across from each other and exactly the same size. It was a cold hall with cold rooms in the winter. There were old-school radiators. I’ve previously posted my thoughts on those deadly contraptions. The hall was kind of creepy. There was an echo down the hall; maybe because most of the rooms were empty. When you looked down it from the living area, it conjured images from The Shining. But then, most long halls do that for me because that movie pretty much screwed up my mind. If somebody wanted into the

the shining

“Come and play with us, Bradly. For ever.. and ever.. and ever…”

building, they would have to buzz an apartment. If you were buzzed, you were supposed to ask through the intercom who it was before letting them in the building. This was my new life.. again.


It must have been about Christmas time (or maybe we were celebrating late as a family), as my pop had a Christmas tree up with presents under it. He obviously put in some effort for us, and I was happy to see him, but I seem to remember being too caught up in my own world of thoughts to show proper appreciation. I do remember him excitedly telling us about this great new band he was into and then playing Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil. And I remember wondering what Germany had done to my dad and hoping that it wouldn’t do the same to me and make me like that music.

So anyway, I eventually had to go to school. I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly, but I don’t think I could have been prepared for what I was in for. As I mentioned, at Morris there was one school for all grades. So even though I spent 7th grade and half of 8th grade there, it didn’t feel to me like I was in junior high. It was the same school that I spent 5th and 6th grade in. Also, I think that having kids younger than you around and kids older than you around grounds you in a way. There are role models above you and you serve as role models for the younger ones. That’s not to say that the Morris kids didn’t get into trouble. There was mischief aplenty, and the teachers thought our class was especially bad, it seemed. But there’s a pretty big difference between small town trouble and big city trouble.

The first thing that opened my eyes to the trouble I was in for was the bus ride. It was insane. Sometimes I think my mind must be exaggerating the memories I have, but in this case I don’t think so. The bus was ridiculously loud. The kids were yelling so loudly that I was embarrassed for how that bus represented Americans. The bus driver was German, and he didn’t ever attempt to control the crowd, although you could tell he was very disapproving. Actually, I do remember him stopping the bus once when the kids started rocking the bus from the inside while he was driving. No matter the collective mood of the bus, it was always yelling. Loud laughter. Loud singing. Loud fighting… Oh yes, there were fights. Frequently. I remember one fight, in particular, involving a group of girls. In the middle of the group, two girls were especially nasty; gripping each others’ hair and slamming each other into the sides of the bus. They broke a window. That was the other time the driver stopped, that I recall. It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before I would get victimized on that bus of doom; but I’ll get to that later. First let me describe my first impression of the school.

Frankfurt American Junior High School was…. well, it was a concrete jungle. It was blacktop and concrete with a brick building all surrounded by a chain link fence. Or maybe a brick wall? The fence/wall was supposed to be meant to protect us, as the reality of military life overseas can be unsettling at times (we practiced “bomb” drills more than fire drills). That fence/wall may have been more meant to protect the surrounding populous. It looked, and often felt like a prison.

The place reeked of hormones. Groups of kids were in their own nooks and crannies representing their cliques. I mentioned earlier that kids start separating into groups at this age. Apparently the groups were very specific at this school. The first day I got there, a couple of girls came up to me and asked, “Are you a Rocker or a Souler?”… I wanted to reply, “Why, I’m not a witch at all. I’m Dorothy Gale, from Kansas!”… but I thought that would be a bad start at this place. One of the girls said, “Look at him. He’s definitely a Rocker.” I did have long hair and a jean jacket at the time, so I guess that categorized me simply enough for them. I went on to discover that there was also a Skater group, but I guess I was obviously not one of them, as that was never asked. My time as a Rocker was very short-lived. As soon as they discovered that I didn’t prefer to skip school to go smoke or participate in acts of rebellion, they pretty much ignored me. It’s funny, I discovered the following handbook from my memories box from the high school I would go to the next year:

FAHS handbook

All 13 types of people.

Of the thirteen people illustrated on this book, twelve of them are cool. You’ve got the male and female athletes (jocks are always cool); there’s an mc and a couple of other hip hop dudes (super cool at that time); there’s the rocker dude (cool); the preppy socialite girl and the cheerleader (always popular); there’s a surfer dude (totally gnarly); there’s a photographer (artsy cool); the drummer dude has ripped sleeves and a sideways hat (the cool kids in band); there’s that skater dude (cool)….. and then there’s THAT guy. You see him. The kid with the book. Why, that’s a nerd. And nothing about him is cool. Of the four people with glasses, his are the only ones that look uncool. Of all of the hairstyles, his is the lamest. His is the only complexion that isn’t flawless. Of all of the poses, his is the… uncoolest. Heck, they even separated him from all of the rest, pushing him up close, while the rest sit back in cool poses together. And maybe the worst part is that they make him look like a stupid nerd! He doesn’t look inquisitive, he looks confused!.. sigh. Anyway, take away the glasses and the tie and that kid was probably the one I most related to.

Now that I’ve sort of described the atmosphere, let me get to those fights and bullies.


Don’t You Dare Look Back, Just Keep Your Eyes On Me

Despite my puny physique, less-than-stellar reflexes, and relatively inferior coordination when compared to athletes, I loved to play sports. I don’t know why. Every once in awhile, I would play a good game of basketball or throw an excellent pass or juke somebody somewhere, so I guess I loved to play for those moments; however few and far between those moments happened to come. At FAJHS, a group of boys played football out on the blacktop during recess. I didn’t have a lot of respect from the boys, initially. I remember during the first day of gym class, the gym teacher in the locker room asking me to take off my shirt (maybe for a jersey, or something?); anyway, the other boys were very vocal about my scrawniness when I took off my shirt. Some chuckles; some “Daaang”s; some “Psh”s. The boys though little of me. Well, I think I exceeded at least the very low expectations they had of me, because I was becoming a little less loathed by some of the boys during games. But there was one boy that continued to have no respect for me, and made quite a show of it.

We usually had one boy play quarterback for a series and then whoever had called next would play for the next series for the team. Well, I had called next for a series and was denied the ball by a boy. I don’t remember his name, but he was very strong-looking and not very friendly-looking. He looked like an angry Apollo Creed without a mustache. I believe his contention was that there was only enough time left in the recess for one more series and he was going to quarterback it. My contention was that I had called next. I hate that I can’t remember the exact words exchanged during some of these confrontations in my youth that led to escalations in hostility and my impending doom. I think that I must have overestimated the respect I thought I had gained with the other boys and that may have been what emboldened me to exchange verbal sassiness with this angry boy. What happened to end the confrontation certainly destroyed any respect the other boys had for me, and, frankly it destroyed any respect I had for myself. In a gesture of exasperation, I turned away at one point while making a sound and a face of frustration. As I was about to turn back with my next argument, he said, “Don’t you look back here.” There was warning in that voice. He went on to suggest that my looking back would result in me getting rendered unconscious by his fist. I froze halfway through my turn. My mind was rapidly calculating my options. None of them were good. Even though I wasn’t looking at him right then, I could feel his threatening gaze upon me and picture the angry face that, just a few seconds ago, I was allowed to look at directly. My options were: 1) Don’t turn around- This might save me from getting punched, but would lose me my turn at playing quarterback, and make me look scared and wimpy. 2) Turn around- This would run me the risk of getting punched, but I will have stood up for myself and at least give myself a chance to defend myself. But he was very strong and angry, and I had almost no doubt that he would carry out his threat right then and there. The blacktop did not look very comfortable, and the image of my unconscious face hitting it was quite unappealing to me. Yes, he might get in trouble if he punched me, but then that would just make him my new bully from then on. Maybe if I just walked away….


“I pity the fool that turns around and looks at me!”

I shook my head and walked away. “That’s what I thought!” was heard behind me. Any respect I had earned from the boys, was certainly flushed right then. It was the punch that was never thrown, and I hate how much I regret that decision to this day. I don’t think I have ever suffered a more emasculating moment. I used to replay what might have happened if I had turned around. Some simulations of that hypothetical event had me getting immediately socked, barely before I even saw the fist coming. Some had me getting a punch in. Some had me getting pulverized as he relentlessly kicked me while I was down. In none of them could I imagine winning that fight. But I still wish I had turned around. It would have been a beating worth taking to preserve my pride. When I saw him in the halls, he always gave me a look like he owned me. And I would be quick to avert my eyes. But at least he never hounded me. I guess there’s that.


Lean On Me When You’re Not Strong and I’ll Be Your Friend

After the blacktop football incident, I had resolved to just keep my head low and try to keep my mouth shut. I was apparently incapable of that. Not too long after I had arrived at this place (maybe a few weeks?), I noticed a new boy on the bus. He was tall with slicked back wet hair and a 49ers Starter jacket. Maybe it was the jacket that caught my attention, as my favorite team, the Bears, were also good at the time and had had some good clashes in recent years. The boy was very quiet, but something compelled me to try to strike up a conversation with him. He was resistant to exchange words. He gave me very brief one-to-two word replies and scarcely bothered to glance in my direction. When he did, his face clearly read, “Dude. I don’t want to talk to you, so please stop bothering me.” I kept bothering him. Over a period of days, his eyes that initially carried warning began to soften. I really don’t know what it was that made me so persistent with this boy. Maybe I saw something that intrigued me, or maybe I just desperately needed a friend. He was new, so if I brainwashed him into liking me before the other boys got to him..?

His name was Ron, and he became my best friend. He later confessed that he would tell his mom about this really annoying kid on the bus whose butt he wanted to kick. So Ron was almost a different story in this blog! Ron and I share some pretty awesome memories together and have enjoyed some crazy adventures. There are some nights that I honestly don’t know how we survived. I wasn’t nearly as adventurous as Ron, so I never would have experienced some of my best memories if not for him. But I include him in this post because of how important he was in my bully story. Ron wasn’t necessarily a great fighter; but he did have his growth spurt early, so he was taller than a lot of other people. Ron had a very powerful stubborn streak. He had an unyielding way of looking at you that let you know he was not going to back down. And he was a fiercely loyal friend. He had my back no matter what. Thanks to my big mouth, Ron found himself having to puff out his chest on multiple occasions. I might feel bad about that, if I didn’t think that Ron actually enjoyed a good scrap now and then.


Me and Ron in 9th grade. We had class with Starface and Heartface. It was a very diverse school.

Ron is important in this post for a few reasons. For one, he deterred many more would-be bullies from beating me up. For another, he is a part of some of these stories because he was there for some of them. And lastly, when discussing this topic with him recently, he reminded me of some bullies I had completely forgotten about. Which is sad. I’ve had so many, I’d forgotten some.

Now that I’ve introduced Ron, let me get back to my bullies. I think next was the bus fight I was in. If you wanna call it that….


Who Are You? Who, Who, Who, Who?

As I mentioned earlier, the bus I rode was pretty typically raucous. But it’s funny- I remember it being relatively calm and quiet on this day. It was the calm before the storm.

I have confessed that most of the situations I had gotten myself into resulted from me opening my mouth and essentially inviting harm unto my body. This was not one of those times. This was a case of a good ol’ bored bully seeking out a wimpy target to practice his ass-kicking on. And Ron was not on the bus at this time. I was minding my own business when I felt something hit the back of my left arm, which was exposed in the bus aisle. I sorta glanced back, thinking little of it, as you pretty much get desensitized to bumping/jostling feelings on the bus. I felt it again. I looked back for a better look this time and saw a boy who obviously targeted me with the small, wadded up paper I saw on the floor. I recognized the boy. He looked kind of like a young Muhammed Ali with slightly slanted eyes and he had an identical twin brother. Their names were Chad and Chet. There was only one of them sitting there looking at me. I remember wondering what the hell I might have done to upset either one of them. I just gave him a dirty look and turned back around. After a minute or two I felt a much harder object hit my arm and it hurt. It was a book. Really pissed off now, I picked the book up and whipped it back at him. It hit his knee and it was everything he was hoping for. He immediately sprang up into a fighting stance, feet staggered and fists up. As soon as his body began to rise, mine automatically sprang up as well. There was no thought in it. I saw him move and I reacted. Unfortunately, that’s as far as my fighting instincts took me. The boy approached me and fired a fast, straight jab to my face. My head snapped back. I saw his fist again. My head snapped back. I saw his fist again. My head snapped back. I saw his fist again. My head snapped back. I saw his fist again. My head snapped back….. Five punches straight to my face. Five times my head snapped back. That was it. That was the fight. I can imagine how absolutely ridiculous it must have looked from one of the other bus rider’s perspectives. It was like Apollo Creed jabbing Rocky over and over again, while Rocky inexplicably kept his hands down and his head repeatedly snapped back. Except I looked way less cool than Rocky. And even dumber. After he punched me five times, it’s like he stopped to see if I would give him anything in return. I remember blinking my eyes a few

apollo rocky

This happened five times. No one chanted my name.

times and sort of shaking my head to clear it; realizing that we were at my bus stop; and then grabbing up my backpack and walking off of the bus. I’m not making this shit up. I had just been punched in the face five times, and I turned around and walked off the bus as if nothing had happened. I guess the bus driver wasn’t happy about the whole thing, as the boy was not allowed to ride the bus anymore, apparently. I assume it was disciplinary, anyway, as I doubt he stayed away for fear of my terrifying and imminent retribution. The funniest thing about the whole thing is that to this day I have no idea which of those twins went ahead and punched me in my face those five times that day. I later would come to find a good Nintendo game trading partner in one of those twins, and always wondered if it was the same boy who had punched me. I never could tell them apart and I never asked.


*           *          *          *          *

The first two years of high school are mostly a blur for me, in terms of chronology of bully incidents. There were so many that I can’t remember when many of them happened. I remember my sophomore year being pretty terrible, but that was the year my pop was in the Middle East during Desert Storm for seven months, so it was already really stressful because of that. There were lots of bullies too, though. I’m going to cut out some of the lesser incidents and try to only write about the ones that stick out in my mind.


Relax, Don’t Do It

This section is about a small dude named Frankie. I couldn’t think of a lyric that fit this story, so I just picked a song done by a Frankie. Lazy, I know.

So, yeah, Frankie was short. I would most often run into Frankie at the bowling alley during lunch. There was a bowling alley on base, and it was a cool place to go for lunch for a few reasons: 1) It had a video jukebox where we could see semi-recent videos for our favorite popular songs. We didn’t get MTV in Germany, so this was kind of a treat. 2) They made some pretty good greasy pizza. 3) There was a sweet arcade game called Cyber Ball (robots playing football!) that I would regularly challenge Ron to. Any time I would be beating Ron at this game, he would run over to the jukebox and request Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle, and this would inexplicably turn the game around and he would win. I hated that song. I remember he once requested it to play three times in a row. It was hell.

Another thing about the bowling alley was that it was the only place on base where students could go to smoke and not be harassed. I’m not sure why that was the case, but it naturally led to all the smokers going to the bowling alley for lunch. I can still see some of the girls in my mind, woefully singing along to Every Rose Has Its Thorn while tilting their heads back and blowing plumes of smoke up into the air. I must have really liked that pizza and Cyber Ball, because I’ve never liked the smell of cigarette smoke. It’s funny that I can almost smell the mix of smoke and greasy pizza smell now and it gives me a happy nostalgic feeling, despite it being a really gross smell.

Frankie was one of the smokers. He was a good-looking dude, but he tried too hard. He had brown hair, a brown leather jacket, and facial scruff with too much on his upper lip and he postured a lot. He really wanted you to notice him smoking- placing and removing his cig with great flare most of the time. Also, he was short. I keep mentioning that because it’s the only reason I can think of for why he screwed with me. I was probably half a foot taller than him, but I was so skinny that he could probably take me. I don’t mean to disparage a dude for his lack of height, but we all know that guy who reminds us of a Chihuahua. Too much bark for their small stature. That was Frankie.

frankie relax

Frankie did not say Relax. But this is how one of his shirts would have fit on me.


In the bowling alley, he never did much more than talk shit and blow smoke in my face. I’m sure I must have said something that instigated him in some way, but I have no memory of what it might have been. Maybe he was just pissed off that he kept having to hear Belinda Carlisle songs, but knew he couldn’t beat up Ron, so he took it out on me. Who knows. It was on the U-bahn (public transit) where Frankie seemed his most menacing. I guess because I was alone at those times. Probably also because I was emboldened a time or two to talk smack back at him at those times. I would often have an inner dialogue about Frankie and how a fight might actually turn out. I remember seeing a taller, skinny dude beat a shorter, stockier dude by using his leverage and length. Of course, that guy probably knew how to fight. One day on the U-bahn, Frankie was losing a verbal sparring contest with me when he strongly implied that he had a knife on him. Now, in my memory, I can see him pulling out a switchblade and showing it to me, but this memory is questionable. I mean, it’s almost cliché: a leather jacket-wearing, slicked back hair-having dude with a cig hanging out of the corner of his mouth pulling out a switchblade. Either way, he took his threat to another level.

I was never physically harmed by Frankie, but whenever he saw me and gave me that dippy smirk, I did get nervous after the knife implication. I was talking to Ron about this just recently and he told me about another aspect of the Frankie situation that I have no memory of. There was a big dude names Marcus that was apparently friendly with Frankie. Ron knew Marcus from the football team and wrestling team. He could have crushed me. Ron told me that Frankie was recruiting Marcus to help kick my ass. Initially when Ron told me this, I was all flattered, thinking that Frankie was too chicken to take me on himself. But then it occurred to me that Marcus was probably just meant to be the Ron neutralizer. Thank goodness it didn’t come to that, because I would have felt bad if Ron had gotten pummeled because of some dude hating me. Oh wait… that did happen….


Do you want to build a snowman?
It doesn’t have to be a snowman.

One winter day, Ron and I were walking home from school when we suddenly found ourselves in a snowball fight with a  group of junior high school kids. It started off good-natured, with the younger kids obviously relishing the thought of showing up the high school boys and Ron and I clearly trying to represent the high school with optimal effort. But there were a lot of them. And their numbers grew as others in the area noticed what was going on. I don’t remember exactly how many of them there were, but it was at least 10-15. Against me and Ron. For some reason, some of the junior high kids started taking the whole thing too seriously and were trying their best to hurt us. This, of course, just invoked Ron’s ire and his snowball tosses became more heated and his face became more angry. The boys had us completely surrounded and we were getting pelted from every angle. While kneeling in the snow to pack some ammo, we got rushed and received a mad barrage of close-range snow-tillery upon our bodies and faces. I watched as Ron was on all fours with his head down and one of those shits came over with a large block of ice hoisted high over his head, and he slammed that block down hard right on Ron’s noggin. Ron bounced up, the red anger on his face melting away the cold snow covering it….. calvin snowballNow Ron wasn’t a straight-A student, or anything, but he was at least good enough at math that he went on to be an accountant; so I have to think that he understood the odds when he started talking about kicking some ass to a bunch of kids who would have liked nothing more than to brag about beating up some high schoolers- even if one of them was skinnier than almost all of them. Be that as it may, Ron chose to threaten the boy that had ice-blocked him. I chose the shaming method- attempting to appeal to the humanity of boys that, I should have known from my half a year at that retched junior high school, didn’t exist. But it seemed to work. Well, it must have, because I remember us walking away from that potential train wreck with no punches thrown…… I’m taking the credit here with my shaming. But it was most certainly probably Ron’s scary angry face that saved us. In my next story, our combined idiocy almost got us destroyed again, but Ron’s angry scary face did not save us. In fact, I don’t think I ever remember seeing Ron more afraid than in this instance.


And I ran
I ran so far away.

Prior to the day I’m about to speak of, I had only one other incident that involved non-Americans. It was on a city bus. I had been sitting in the back of the bus and a group of about five Turks came on and all came to the back to sit. They were in their late teens or early twenties and they all turned to look at me. The apparent leader of the group asked me if I was an American. I super-quickly analyzed my answer options: 1) I lie. Maybe try a stupid accent. Hope that they don’t beat me up for looking so obviously American and trying to lie about it with a stupid fake accent. 2) I don’t lie. I say “Yes, I’m an American”, and then resist the urge to sing a patriotic song and worsening the situation. And get beat up. 3) I pretend I can’t hear them. And then I pretend I can’t understand them through their accent. And then I get beat up.

It was a difficult choice. Some of the locals loved Americans. In fact, some were overly eager to demonstrate this. But many others definitely held animosity toward Americans. And Turks were quite notorious for this. I chose to admit that I’m American. I pretty quickly wish I’d chosen option four, where I pretend to faint instead of answering them. I recall being pretty scared as they taunted me and made fun of my look. They easily picked the right American to do that with. There were threatening overtones, but no specific threats. I decided to stay on the bus past my stop in the hopes that they would eventually get off somewhere. I sure as hell wasn’t going to get off and risk them following me out in the open. Every bus or U-bahn stop was pretty far from where you were going. Lots of walking in Germany. They did eventually get off and I was able to exhale, dab the sweat, and be thankful I suffered no physical harm.

But this story isn’t even about that! It’s about the only other time that locals threatened me. The overtones were not subtle. They weren’t even overtones, they were pretty direct. And it wasn’t Turks, it was Germans.


When our time in the temporary housing was up, we moved to another housing area called Von Steuben. It was actually adjacent to Platen, but it was much closer to one of the main streets there outside of the military area. So Ron and I would sometimes go exploring down that street when we’d get bored. One day, while standing on a street corner- we must have been waiting for a street light to change for us to cross, or something- I noticed a group of three German boys standing about fifteen feet away from us. Like the Turkish boys, they were in their late teens or early twenties. They were all tall. The shortest one was as tall as Ron, and Ron was fairly tall for his age. Being a frequent victim of bullying, my guard was usually up around bigger boys. I glanced over and noticed them staring in our direction. I was subtle, but they saw me look. While looking down I saw spit land near our feet. I didn’t hear them spit it, but it might have been muffled by the sound of traffic. Ron was oblivious to all of this, facing the opposite direction and chewing his gum, like he always did. Trying to speak in a voice that was loud enough to get his attention over the traffic, but not loud enough for the other boys to hear, I told Ron that I thought the boys near us had spit at us. And then they did it again. You could hear it and see it. Ever his first impulse, Ron puffed up his chest and faced the boys full on. The boys clearly were banking on that response and didn’t hesitate for one second. They bolted for us.

I will never forget the look on Ron’s face in that instant. His eyes flew open wide and, quicker than I’d ever seen him move, he spun around to run while saying, “Oh shit!”…. and then ran into a street lamp. His gum flew out, but he quickly got around the post and resumed break-neck speed. I was right there with him. There had been times when we had run quickly together. We enjoyed sports. We had run to evade dangerous weather. We had run to catch busses. Most of those times, I remember laughing with him over the situation that had us running so fast. We were not laughing this time. We were hauling ass and we had no idea where we were going. We knew we couldn’t run this fast forever. And I think we both assumed that these kids could catch us, being all tall as they were. Probably a couple/few hundred feet down the sidewalk, we bounded into a pizza place. I can’t remember if we verbally communicated this intent or if we saved the energy talking and just telepathically relayed our intent to each other, but we both flew into this place and watched, gasping for air, as the German boys paced outside. Our hope that they wouldn’t follow us into a public restaurant appeared to be correct. But there they were. Pacing. Waiting. I have no idea how long we waited. At some point, the manager indicated that we had to leave.  I had the irrational fear that the boys would eventually come in to the place and explain, in German, to the manager that there was some justifiable reason for them to be chasing us American boys. Neither Ron or I had strong German skills. Thankfully, this did not occur. The boys grew weary of their chase and resumed whatever other hooliganism they had planned for their day. We watched them cross the street and then we waited a while longer. When it became obvious that the manager was not going to tolerate another minute of our presence, we timidly emerged from the building, looked every direction, and then sprinted across the street toward Von Steuben. We did not die that day. I do wish we could have bottled the speed we were able to conjure that day, though. I could have been an Olympian, if someone sent those boys chasing me again.


Ussain Bolt attributes his success to a bottle he found back in 1990.


Put Me In Coach. I’m Ready to Play Today.

I love sports. I think I’ve mentioned that. I’ve also never been really that good at sports. I believe that has also been established. So it may come as no surprise when I state that I was a member of the worst baseball team ever assembled.

I wouldn’t have even heard about the team had we not moved into the Edwards housing area. Someone started a fire in the basement of our Von Steuben building, so many of us had to relocate. We ended up in Edwards. And that is where I encountered the bully that endured longer than any other bully I’ve ever had.

Our team was basically the Bad News Bears. We technically represented Frankfurt, but the school wasn’t affiliated with the team like they were with the other sports. This was some dad, with a son who wanted to pitch baseball, putting out the word that he was assembling a team, and then a ragtag group of dudes meandering onto a field to play. We had to order our own T-shirts and hats. They were bright, canary yellow with royal blue numbers. The hat was just the bright canary yellow with no lettering. We wore whatever blue-colored pants we had. I had a pair of navy sweat pants. We looked ridiculous.


I kind of looked like #2, except our uniforms were uglier. I played like a #2, also. That’s a poop joke.


And worse, we played ridiculous. The guys we had who were half decent pitchers all fought not to pitch. They all wanted to play 3rd base. The only one who wanted to pitch was the coach’s son, and he threw like a maniac. He did throw fast, but he might just take your head off. In our first competition, we played a double-header against Heidelberg. We lost the two games by a combined score of about 40-5. The rest of the season was not really any better. The one bright spot was when we played against the number one ranked team (Rhein-Main) and were holding our own against them (I think it was 2-1, or something like that) when the game was called due to worsening weather in one of the middle innings. Our team finished 0-11 with that one unfinished game neither a win or a loss.

Ron and I played center field. We alternated playing it and neither of us was good. We were both slow to react to the ball off the bat, so we usually ended up chasing the ball. None of the parks we played in had a fence, so this sometimes meant chasing the ball really, really far. There were times when we ran so far, that we couldn’t even throw it to the relay. They should have had like two or three relays for us. We also sucked at batting. I was puny, so I couldn’t swing the bat fast enough to hit a decent fast ball. And I had astigmatism and couldn’t see the spin of a ball, so I’d almost always miss on the breaking balls. At some point, I just started swinging as soon as the pitcher released the ball, in the hopes that I would be fast enough to catch a fast ball somewhere in the middle of the plate. It was a pitiful strategy.

Despite our futility, all teams made it into the double-elimination playoff tournament after the season. In the first round, our last-ranked team faced off against Rhein-Main (the team we might have beaten if not for weather, and the number one ranked team). Much to our chagrin, we recognized that Rhein-Main had stacked their team for the tourney. They had poached the best players from the other teams and had created a super team. We saw the pitcher who had dominated us in Heidelberg red in the first game, now wearing Rhein-Main blue. We were pretty pissed about this, but it was apparently legal. Whichever team won this tourney would go on to represent the German-American team in some larger tourney, so they wanted a super team. None of our players had been poached. Shocker.

Our teams resumed the trash-talking that we engaged in when our first game was suspended. And then our team went on to play the best game of baseball we had played all year. Even I played well. And just like the Bad News Bears, our team did the impossible in beating the best team in the league, with all its stacked players, 17-10. How we put up 17 on a team that stole all the best pitchers, I’ll never know. Our momentum did carry into the next game, where I had my personal best of the season, hitting 3-4 with a couple of stolen bases and a couple of base runners gunned down from the outfield. But we did go on to lose that one to Baumholder by the same 17-10 score. The last game was stupid because Bitburg was a team of 6’2″ 30-year old men that hit the ball for miles. We lost 18-1…..

It just occurred to me that I got way into the baseball story and wrote too much about it. This was supposed to be about the bully.

The bully’s name was James Merryweather. My wife got really upset that I included last names in my first bully post, so I went back and deleted them. I haven’t been using last names in this post. But James’ level of assholery warrants full recognition. I met him because he was friends with a couple of the players on my baseball team; the two biggest, strongest members. James was about the same height as Ron (taller than me), he had a light brown mullet, and he always seemed to have a dickish smirk on his face. Somehow, I came to fall in with them one day, as we all lived in Edwards. Ron still lived in Platen, so I didn’t see him much when I was home. The boys weren’t my cup of tea, but I followed them around for a while that day and listened to their nonsense. I guess I was just trying to build team unity, or something, since this happened while the season was still going. We came to rest outside one of the buildings and James sat up on a fence. After some time, an older woman called out of her window from up in the building for James to get off of the fence. James gave her some smart ass comment and stayed on the fence. The woman started getting angry and again told him to get off. James became more disrespectful in his comments. Now, this is all coming off like the lady was being petty, and maybe she was. I really don’t remember the particulars. But I do remember that whatever James was saying crossed my line for what you don’t say to your elders. I told him to quit being stupid…..

This is the third and final time that I adopted a new bully by calling someone stupid. All three of those bullies (the tomboy in Illinois, the Warriors gangster in Oklahoma, and now James) were the three worst bullies I ever had. You’d think I had learned something from the first two.


Stupid is as stupid does. Like calling people stupid is stupid. Stupid.

On that day, James just gave me a look of angry dismissal. So I dismissed myself. Despite my history, I thought that would be the end of that. Maybe I thought that since I had played baseball with the two guys, they would just let it be. I didn’t think it was that big a deal. I intended to just move on with life and not hang out with those guys anymore. James had other plans.

If you’ve seen any high school movie that had a bully in it, you’ve seen most or all of the typical cliché dick moves a bully will pull. James had all of them in his toolbox, and he employed every one with me. Funny thing is, he never actually fought me. Oh, he threatened to. He even gave me the ol’ pretend-to-throw-a-punch fake out move to make me flinch. He did that a few different times. But he never threw a real punch. He didn’t have to. While Ron always had my back, James alone was as big as Ron. Neither were real buff, but both were tall and not scrawny. But James always had those two goons from the baseball team with him, and they were both bigger than James or Ron. Even when I really wanted to hit James- and he made me mad enough at times to push me to the brink- I always held myself back for fear of the group-beating I would likely receive, and that Ron might receive also.

So what did James do? The earliest antagonizing acts I remember were the classic throw-his-shoulder-into-me move in the school halls. Sometimes the hall would be crowded and I wouldn’t even see him coming. Then WHAM! I’d be knocked hard sideways into a locker and hastily jerk around to see what the hell happened only to see his two goons turning their heads and laughing while James just strutted ahead without turning around.

Ron and I were invited to a birthday party for a girl named Wendy. She was turning 16, and she had her party up in the top of one of the buildings where no adults were present. I hadn’t hung out with Wendy too much before, so I was surprised to discover James and his goons at the party too. Apparently they were friends. This was the day that I discovered that Wendy was sweet on me. I don’t have a very good radar for such things, but Wendy wasn’t really the subtle type. I remember very well the coy looks she gave me and the way she was lip syncing to Paula Abdul’s Straight Up while smiling in my direction. I did not know that Wendy felt this way about me and I was intrigued. Dorky, shy, and hopelessly devoid of any smoothness around girls… but intrigued. James caught on to Wendy’s vibe toward me. He started getting fresh with her. He started saying suggestive things to her. He danced with her and grabbed her butt. She expressed her disapproval. It was all set up for me to be the hero and win the girl. Like in the movie Back to the Future when George McFly is trying to dance with Elaine after winning her affection and that dude comes over and takes Elaine and says “Scram, McFly!” and starts dancing with Elaine while laughing and Elaine is clearly upset and calling for George, but George is walking away like the loser he always was, until he comes back and palm-shoves the dude in the forehead to the floor and takes Elaine and gives her true love’s first kiss……. except I didn’t do any of that. I just scowled meaninglessly at him, basically giving him what he hoped for. Somehow, I did end up going steady with Wendy, but I don’t know how. Surely it wasn’t my impressive display of protective chivalry that day. Maybe I’ll talk about my hopeless foibles with females in another post. There’s plenty to laugh at.

Another time, I discovered that my locker had been busted into and my stuff was stolen. James was the only person I suspected, and when I confronted him about it, he gave me a knowing smirk- that dickish smirk I’ve mentioned- that basically confirmed his guilt in the crime. I was so mad and letting him know about it, but he just kept looking at me like, ‘Wimp, you know you’re not gonna do anything about it. And if you do, it’ll be exactly the excuse I’m looking for to destroy you with my goons.’ Bullies work with that mentality- that retaliation for something they did is justification for their bullying.

After the locker incident, I did grow some balls and planned retaliation. Not a well thought out retaliation… I used his stupid move and I threw a shoulder into him once when he didn’t notice me coming. It was pretty excellent. He turned and looked at me all startled, which was so sweet. But I wasn’t cool enough like him to have just kept walking. Partly because the force required to jolt him made me stop in my tracks. While I relished the brief joy that came with his startled expression, it was very soon when I realized that I had no follow up move. And, you know that part in Back to the Future when Marty trips Biff in the diner and Marty feels all good about himself, but then Biff stands up to his full height and you just see Marty’s bulging eyes over Biff’s towering shoulder?…. That was basically what happened here. Except I didn’t punch James and ride off on a skateboard. No. James talked smack and did the fake punch to make me flinch thing while his goons sneered menacingly. And it earned me many more months of bullying.

mcfly and biff

The fruits of my retaliation.


One day, Ron and I walked into a little American grill style joint just off of Edwards. We were delighted to see behind the service counter James in a dippy hat and an apron. We took advantage of the situation, knowing that if he didn’t want to get fired, he would faithfully serve us. We asked him many questions about the menu items, all the while smirking at him in his dippy work outfit, and completely relishing catching him in this vulnerable setting without his goons around and with his coolness in the toilet. He tersely answered our questions with a contemptuous look upon his face and then went back to prepare the fried chicken tenders and fries we ordered. It wasn’t until some years later when the disgusting concept of food workers adding bodily fluids to peoples’ food was revealed to me in news that it occurred to me that I very likely consumed some of James’ bodily fluids that day. Grody.

The crap with James started sometime in 10th grade and lasted until I left halfway through 11th grade. I did not miss him.


I’m Gonna Knock You Out. Momma Said Knock You Out.

I have received trauma that rendered me unconscious only twice in my life that I remember. In second grade, I was playing outfield for a T-ball team I was on (the training for my later super stellar high school baseball contributions). Some kid knocked the snot out of the ball and I was running back really fast while trying to look back and keep my eye on the ball. I felt a sudden, painful impact on my head and body and then woke up some moments later with a bunch of people around me asking me if I was okay. I had run directly into the monkey bars that were just past the outfield.

I duplicated this unpleasant experience when I tried out for the Frankfurt Eagles football team during my junior year. It was summer camp and I assume Ron compelled me to try out. We both loved football, but even Ron, who was quite a bit bigger than me, was dwarfed by many of the boys on that team. I guess I hoped or figured that my speed would be good for something. I quickly discovered that the weight of the pads and helmet put a big damper on your speed when you’re a puny 125 pounds. I looked so ridiculous in my big shoulder pads and big helmet and tiny, skinny body underneath it all.

Despite this, Coach Toth did offer encouraging words to me during camp. I tried hard, and he liked effort. I attacked the tires, demonstrating adequate agility as I stepped through them. I performed monkey roll exercises with only a few disorienting screw ups. I hung my light body from the edge of the scoreboard base with my chin held above it for longer than most of the guys. Coach noticed that…. But then came the tackling drills.

I already had suffered the reality of diminished speed in heavy football gear; but now I was about to participate in a drill that eliminated speed as an asset and rewarded mass. In tackling drills, there are two lines. One group of boys stand in a line (one behind another) that faces another group of boys in a line. The boys at the head of each line stand between two orange cones. The boys are separated by approximately 8-10 feet. One of the boys is carrying a football. When coach blows the first whistle, the boys rapidly step in place with quick feet. When coach blows the second whistle, the ball carrier advances in attempt to get to the other side while the other boy is supposed to try to tackle him. There is no room for fancy stuff between these narrowly-placed cones. This is simple Newtonian physics here.

I was standing in the tackling line, and I was about 4-5 boys from my turn, when people apparently started doing the math on my matchup. I heard some people snickering. I heard some people say, “Oooh, shit!”… I didn’t realize that they were talking about my matchup until I came to the head of the line and saw my opponent. Standing across from me, football in hand, was our all-conference running back, Sydney Lamora. The dude was a stud. He was a gifted athlete and he outweighed me by probably 60-70 pounds.

coyote vs train

Me lined up against Sydney. I am the coyote in this analogy.

Everybody was watching in sick anticipation. I imagined it was like anticipating watching the collision between a speeding truck and a tricycle.


I wasn’t an especially smart person, but I understood the basics of Newton’s laws. Newton’s laws said I was fucked. And yet, despite this understanding, I somehow found a bizarre courage within me. Yes, I saw Sydney standing across from me. I saw his superior size. I saw the fluidity with which his feet rapidly stepped in place. I saw the determination in his face. He appeared to have no qualms about being matched up against a clearly inferior human. But I found within me some strange confidence that I could do this. Maybe it was the pads and helmet I was wearing. Maybe it was the encouragement that coach had previously given me. Maybe it was the increased adrenaline that coursed through my veins when I was rapidly stepping in place and tasked with colliding with someone who is not supposed to advance a ball beyond me. Whatever it was, I started to believe that I could tackle Sydney Lamora to the ground.

Coach Toth must have seen that look in my face. He seemed to be hesitating to blow that second whistle, perhaps fearing the carnage that he would be tasked with cleaning up. But with a curious head cock and a shrug, he gave all of the spectators what they had been eagerly anticipating and blew the whistle. Without hesitation, I ran forward. Sydney did the same. I opened my arms up as I advanced and leaned forward into his chest.

I woke up some moments later with the coach staring over me and the team circled around my pile of bones. I do remember hearing the crunching sound of our bodies colliding, before being knocked out. Some guy said that Lamora tripped over my unconscious body, therefore, technically, making me successful in tackling him. I didn’t believe him, though. Pretty sure he was jerking with me.

coyote after train

Newton was a friggin’ genius.


Effort or not, coach saw that I wasn’t built for this. He sent me over to catch footballs, or some such. Eventually, I tried out for quarterback. It was stupid of me. I had achieved second string quarterback… of the JV squad… by the time I decided to quit. When I went to coach’s office to tell him I was quitting, he was very disappointed. He went on about me being a quitter and made me feel like crap, but I knew I was making the right decision. I could have been the skinny loser 11th grader on the bench of a JV team who hated to hear all of the locker room talk and feared the immature shenanigans that such locker dwellers regularly engaged in. Or I could preserve the little dignity I had left and slink away before I got really hurt- or worse- embarrassed myself with bad play on the field. I slinked away.


*          *          *          *          *


There were other little incidents at FAHS during my semester in 11th grade there. I got rolled over by a 250-lb ‘roid-raged linebacker in gym class when he didn’t like that I was competing. I had a couple of classmates threaten me when I kept forgetting to pay $5 debts for stupid bets I made on the Bears that I lost. Some senior named Mike, who was a short “nerdy”-looking guy with glasses, had it in for me and bullied me for awhile. No memory at all why. I got fed up with him and came at him with a can of soda one day when he pushed me too far. I threw the can really hard against a dumpster that was behind him while I was yelling in fury. It was pretty badass and he left me alone after that.

Ron left for the states before I did, sometime right after football season, I think. I went back to the states during winter break. I remember we were stuck at the German airport all day because of bad weather, but I was fine with it because I was reading The Stand by Stephen King at the time and was way into it. I was kind of dreading going back to the states anyway, because we were being sent to Georgia, and I really didn’t think I’d fit in very well there.


He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.

My dad was stationed in Fort Benning and we ended up living in Columbus, Georgia. Ron had been stationed in Savannah, so at least we were in the same state (if on complete opposite ends) and did visit a couple of times. As I mentioned, I wasn’t enthusiastic about Georgia. I knew it was a Bible belt state with a lot of racism, and my views were going to be at odds with many people there. I was correct, but not as correct as I thought I would be. In fact, I would find myself ironically battling a prejudice that I created out of my self-righteous self-perception of having no prejudices. I’ll get to that.

The school I ended up in was Jordan Vocational High School. Of the six local schools, this one was dubbed “The Redneck School”. Great. In the first class I had, I was trying to hide at my desk when the teacher asked me to introduce myself and where I was coming from. I introduced myself and said I was coming back from Germany. The teacher then enthusiastically revealed that the fella behind me was also recently shipped back from Germany. I turned around and asked him where he was coming from. He said Wiesbaden. I groaned and said I was from Frankfurt. He rolled his eyes. I then explained to the class that Frankfurt and Wiesbaden had become bitter football rivals and our teams met and played in a classic championship game… (it turns out the football team did quite well without my help). Frankfurt won the championship in exciting fashion and this fella behind me had been on the Wiesbaden team that lost. We became fast friends. His name was Art.

Art had been an offensive lineman for that Wiesbaden team and blocked for the unstoppable Duba Flowers. Duba was a running back that dominated Frankfurt in both of their classic games that season. Art was 6’2″ and 240 pounds. He was also black. This is relevant because I was in Georgia and the racial tension there was unlike any I had ever experienced in my life. As fellow army brats, we bonded easily. There was racism in the military schools, but it wasn’t super prevalent- certainly not compared to what I observed at my high school in Georgia. I heard mutters of “nigger lover”, and got cold stares from some of the students. Some folks around there that didn’t know me from school would say incredibly appalling racist things in my presence, apparently just assuming that I agreed. Some of those people had seemed so amazingly sweet and were quite outwardly Christian. I had it in my mind that this is what Georgia would be like, but I was shocked and appalled when it actually happened. It didn’t help matters that the Rodney King incident occurred that spring of 1992. I overheard some of the black students bragging about rioting in Atlanta and this fueled the disdain that many of the white kids had toward the black kids. It was all ugly. But through it all, Art remained a gentle giant. One of the most soft-spoken and nicest guys I remember.

rodney king

Remember when this used to be a problem in society?… so glad those days are over.

The football coach there tried hard to get Art to play for their team. Art told me he would play only if I played. I, with memories all too fresh of becoming football field roadkill, refused. I urged him to play. He was so big and strong and I envied that, so I guess I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t play. He maintained that he would only play if I did. I very briefly considered it. And then I saw the team. This team made the Frankfurt team look small and cuddly by comparison. I imagined my puny self walking into that locker room full of giant angry kids, many probably full of racial animosity, and getting absolutely crushed by any one of them. I politely refused. So it’s my fault, I guess, that Jordan’s football team was missing 240 pounds of player…. well, 300 pounds, if you count me.


I never had anybody attempt to mess with me or bully me while at Jordan. A testament to Art’s intimidating size, I’m sure. But there was a bullying incident that was important, as well as an important lesson I learned about prejudice. You see, I had already worked up in my mind how Georgia was going to be. And I had encountered many people who confirmed these notions. Unfortunately, this created a prejudice I had against any person with a southern drawl. I just assumed they were all racist. When I started to know people who weren’t, I still persisted in the belief that “typical rednecks” were all racist. To me, this was someone with a southern drawl who looked the part. Tight jeans. Boots. Large belt buckle. Mustache. I was prejudiced against that guy. But I didn’t see it that way. In my mind, they were all prejudiced and I was righteous because I didn’t hate people just because they were black. And then I got to know a fellow named John.

John was in my senior history class. John was tall and skinny with tight jeans and a large belt buckle. He had a brown mullet and a way-too big mustache for a high-schooler. He looked as redneck as a dude could look. With that, I had my mind made up about John. But I did notice, as time went on, that John would laugh at my silliness in class. It caught my attention because I knew that he knew that I was buddies with Art. And the fellas that disliked me for that fact never laughed at my silliness. At some point, John approached me about partnering up on an assignment. Art wasn’t in this class with me, so I couldn’t work with him. I hesitantly agreed. It turned out, we got along really well. I hate to admit that it was a struggle for me to get past his…. redneckness, though. It was just who he was. I discovered he liked to play basketball. So we met to play one day. John, in his cowboy boots and large belt buckle, showed up at the court just like that and played me in those boots. He was pretty good. We had some competitive games, which was a nice change from playing with Art who destroyed me the few times we played and just got bored with me on the court.

It was about that time when I realized how prejudiced I had been. I, who had perceived myself as being so pure from prejudice, just because I didn’t hate people for the color of their skin, had been no better than any of those folks. I had looked down on people for how their voice sounded and what they wore and how they looked. John was a way better person than me. And he proved it the day that my brother needed help from a bully.

My brother and I are 3 1/2 years apart in age, so we rarely spent time at the same school. But during my senior year, Michael was a freshman at Jordan. Poor Michael was even smaller than me all growing up. Skinny as me, but a few inches shorter, making for a prime target for assholes. The thing is, I often asked for the shit I received by opening my big mouth. Michael liked to stay low and didn’t piss people off. So I was especially mad when Michael told me about a kid who had been bullying him. Michael and I weren’t often getting along that well back in those days, so for him to tell me about this bully must have really meant it was bugging him. And while I was kind of an asshole to my brother back then, I wouldn’t stand for anybody else being an asshole to him. That was MY job!

I found out when and where this bullying was usually occurring. It was happening at my brother’s locker during a certain time of the day between classes. I told Art about it. He was eager to help. I told a friend, Grant about it. He was a class clown, but a BIG class clown who wanted to help. John heard about it too and wanted to help. I was happy to have him. At the scheduled time, I set off for my brother’s locker with three guys towering behind me in a fan formation. Grant, a tall, rotund guy with a pimpled face and gelled, parted hair. John, a tall, skinny dude with a mullet and a big mustache. Art, a huge black guy with a tall flat top. And me in front. A skinny boy with hair that looked Ace Ventura’s (that’s what happens when your 90210 Jason Priestley do goes too long without a haircut). We had to look like the most unlikely crew anyone could ever conceive, walking down the hall all pissed off looking. I chuckle to imagine it.

We showed up at that locker and the boy bullying my brother was a small black boy. My brother was smaller, so this kid probably targeted him out of convenience. I recalled having short/small bullies (Frankie and the Mike the “nerdy”-looking kid came to mind). They just wanted to feel tough to someone. This kid picked on the wrong boy, though. It was pretty comical seeing the look on the kid’s face when we called him out. Grant, who seemed especially perturbed about the bullying, called the boy out first and did most of the talking. Grant was good at that. The boy made haste out of there and I don’t remember my brother ever mentioning being bothered by him again.


What that boy saw coming at him. Scary.


It was a very cool feeling to be part of ridding someone I cared about of a bully. And it ended my official bullying experiences in school. Later in my senior year, some of my writings from a supposedly “private” journal assignment in English class somehow got out to my classmates within which I was reasoning out religion and casting doubt on theism. This naturally didn’t sit well with many folks there, and I lost Art and Grant as friends. But, thankfully, I didn’t get bullied about it.

There were a lot of near fights on the basketball court. Michael and I would play basketball at a nearby rec place for hours almost every day, it seemed. Adrenaline often got the better of people during basketball, even me. I came across a drawing I had done back in high school that depicts what I guess I perceived to be a typical jerk I might get into with on the court.5d3ca275-028a-4efe-9f9c-dc2a36f1907c_zpson7llz6x

In my young adult years, I was around some fights, but never in them. I put on 35 pounds when I was 19 or 20, and I toned down my big mouth, so those things probably helped. Plus I wasn’t in school anymore, which surely helped. Even though it’s been years… heck, decades since those experiences, they’ve clearly left an impression on me. They certainly influenced the way I see the world, in some ways. While asking a close friend of mine about some details from high school while writing this, neither of us could remember certain things. I teased him about his bad memory and he said that he has “moved on” from a lot of things I’m “holding on to”…. I was offended at first by the comment, but then I asked myself honestly if I am “holding on” to some of these things. Perhaps I am. But I learned a lot of lessons from those many experiences, including the lesson that I have often been wrong even when I was sure I was right. This lesson always keeps me questioning myself and it’s a lesson I think a lot of other people could stand to learn. But hopefully with fewer physical beatings.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog Post of a Wimpy Kid

I experienced my childhood in the 80’s and my high school years in the early 90’s. There were lots of great things about growing up during that period and these things have been documented ad nauseam in multiple popular nostalgia shows. But there was one thing I remember about growing up at that time that was decidedly ungreat. That was the many physical beatings I endured. In those days, there was no internet to type mean things about people. That seems to be the way to torment your childhood peers today. No, if you wanted to hurt someone’s feelings back then, you called them a mean name to their face and then punched them to really drive home the humiliating point. I know this because I was on the receiving end of this exchange many times.

I suppose it didn’t help that I happened to be comprised of two ingredients that tend to

skinny me

Skinny Brad, circa 1986. If you look real hard, you might see my arms and legs.

lead to merciless beatings: a smart mouth and a feeble body. Of course “smart” mouth might not be the best description, for if it was so smart, it might have realized that it was what was continually responsible for the beatings. Sometimes I said things to defend other victims. Sometimes I said things to humiliate someone who I thought was a bad person. And sometimes I just said things that I thought were funny, but happened to piss off someone who happened to be listening. It was almost always my mouth, though.

Another factor that led to frequent opportunities for physical humiliation was that I was an army brat; which means I moved around a lot. And everywhere I went, I, at some point, attracted some large, angry person who saw me as a shiny new punching bag. You would think that with so many opportunities to learn from my mistakes or to reinvent myself, that I’d eventually avoid fights or bullies. But no. Everywhere I went, it was the same:
(Me arriving at the admissions office): “Hi. I’m Brad. May I have my class schedule, please. Yes, thank you. Oh, and do you have a designated bully assigned to me yet? Oh good, thanks. Let’s see… Bubba-Butch McWimp Killer? Sounds charming. Thanks again. Oh, and could you please tell the nurse that I’ll be visiting her later. Yes, you have a nice day too.”
Anyway, allow me to share with you the stories of all of the fights and bullies I can remember from my youth:


Ebony and Ivory Live Together in Perfect Harmony

My earliest memory of words leading to pain is from 3rd grade. Our family had just moved back to the states from Germany, and we were temporarily living with my grandpa in Illinois. This was in 1983, and at that time the Illinois school system was bussing kids all over the place in order to racially integrate schools. I had a long bus ride to Taylor Elementary School and I was oblivious to problems of race at that time and really didn’t treat anybody differently. Being an army brat in Germany, it was a very integrated mix of people from different races and backgrounds. I remember playing with Joe Gonzales, perfecting our movie western fake punches and falls (swinging in a wild, wide arc with an accompanying sound of “PSH!” when punching; and spinning with arms out to the sides and falling dramatically when punched). I remember the 4-year old and 7-year old black brothers (biological brothers.. not “brothers”… never mind) in the building next door who snuck down to the basement and tried to get me to smoke with them. I remember John Murphy… nope, that kid was whiter than white. Anyway, I’m not saying that there wasn’t racism. Of course there was. I heard the “n-word” a lot in white circles, but I didn’t really know what it meant at that time. I wasn’t prepared for what true racial tension felt like when I went to Taylor.

school bus

The Brad on the bus goes “Let me out! Let me out! Let me out!!!”

It happened when I was on the list to call roll one day. I was still quite new at the school and I remember being pretty nervous about getting up in front of the class. The teacher left the class while I was calling roll, and this afforded me the opportunity for, what I perceived to be, some lightly antagonistic teasing with the use of mild profanity. I came to the name Bradley Dickenson. But when I called his name, I called “Bradley DICK..enson”. I got a chuckle from the class. And I got a piercing glare from Bradley Dickenson, who happened to be a much larger black boy. Later that day, Bradley happened to find me in the bathroom and he said threatening things to me, picked me up, and slammed me against the wall and pinned me there while my feet dangled. It was a very successful way to intimidate me. I wasn’t at that school for very long, but I do remember running for my life on a couple of occasions from Bradley and one or two of his friends, who were also much bigger and blacker than me. I remember telling my mother about this and she confided that she actually had bullies from that same Dickenson family when she was a kid. When she was in school, there was clearly racial tension that contributed to many of the problems she had. And while I pretty much asked for my problem with Bradley Dickenson by stupidly teasing him about his name, I think there was a thing to me being the skinny new white kid being bussed into a predominantly black neighborhood to go to school and then popping off at the mouth like it was no thing. I was too stupid to see it then, though, which may have been a good thing, as the incident did not make me racist. It did help develop my running speed, though.


O-Oh Here She Comes, Watch Out Boy She’ll Chew You Up

Fourth grade was pretty terrible. For the first half of 4th grade, still in Illinois, my family moved to a small place we still affectionately call “The Little Yellow House”. A big change from being bussed to Taylor, I was now walking to and from Center Elementary School every day. One day, while walking to school, one of the kids I recognized from Center joined me. Along the way, we came across a group of three other kids who were clearly a couple of years older than us. The kid I had been walking with seemed to know them and they got to talking. Now, I don’t remember what exactly they were saying, but I do remember that something they said prompted me to remark that they were stupid. My big mouth. The one who was clearly the leader of the trio stepped closer to me and started threatening me with many profane words. It took me a minute before I realized that this person was not a boy. She had a very deep voice, and she was as big as the two boys who were her companions, but this was a girl. A tomboy. She had dark brown hair that was chopped just shy of her shoulders and a gap between her two front top teeth. And she was mean. I escaped that initial encounter with just the threats, but one day soon after, that trio lie in wait for me when I was about halfway home from school. I don’t remember exactly how long the walk was

joey ramone

This bully actually resembled Joey Ramone. A mean, female Joey Ramone who wanted to sedate me with her fists.

(everything is bigger and further at that age), but I do remember that at the halfway point, I was too far from school and too far from home to make it safely to either. That first time, they just pushed me around roughly, knocking me to the ground several times. I hadn’t really experienced anything like that before, so I don’t know if I really knew what to expect afterward. I think I thought that that was that. But no. They started waiting for me everyday at that spot and the roughness escalated. It became flat out beatings- punching, kicking, pinning me down… it was actually pretty terrible. Each beating further damaged my psyche. I mean, further “built character”. At some point, I told my mom about it and she got really upset. Unfortunately, an enlisted military career doesn’t allow for a life of luxury, and my folks could only afford an old beat up car that would never start. So driving me to and from school was out. She went to the school and reported it, and one day a teacher slowly drove along side me in the road while I walked home. Of course, the bullies didn’t show up that day, and the teacher couldn’t do that for me every day. So the beatings resumed soon thereafter. One winter day, during a particularly brutal beating, the kids took turns plunging my face down into the snow and holding my head under while I struggled to breathe. It’s hard to describe what happened then. After several times getting my face slammed down into the snow, I basically “hulked out”. I felt the freezing cold against my numbing face. I heard the laughter of the kids as I struggled to bring my face up. I felt the awful feeling of oxygen deprivation. And all of these sensations just swirled together at once in my mind and transformed me into a skinny little kid who snapped. I became someone I had never been before. Somehow I found the strength to pull my arms free and flail them about wildly so that I could bring my head up. Then I became like the cartoon Tasmanian devil, spinning and swinging my arms like a crazy boy. And during this sudden display of self-preservation, I remember what I repeatedly yelled to those three bigger kids as they retreated. And I know that it was these words.. the ferocious way I yelled them.. the terrible anger in my face, probably beet red from repeated smashings in the snow… I screamed, “I’LL KILL YOU ALL, I’LL KILL YOU ALL, I’LL KILL YOU ALL!!!!!”…. It’s still pretty crazy for me to think about. I know I must have looked insane, because the three bigger kids ran across the street with genuine fear on their faces. And they never messed with me again.


I Want to Ride My Bicycle. I Want to Ride My Bike.

Halfway through 4th grade, we moved to Lawton, Oklahoma where Fort Sill is located. During this half year in 4th grade, we lived in two different places. We started off in a rather large apartment complex that housed civilians, as well as army families. There were two main events I’ll discuss from those apartments. The first one has to do with what was probably my favorite possession at the time. My badass, shiny red BMX bike. As I mentioned before, my folks didn’t have a lot of money, but during that last year in Germany, they surprised me with this bike that I had seen somewhere and was just fawning over. It was a red dirt bike with cool pads and hand brakes. My parents saved up over 100 Deutsche Marks for that bike and I loved it. During our time in the apartments, I befriended a boy named Jason. I honestly can’t remember what it was that bonded us, but we hung out a lot and I genuinely liked and trusted him. One day my red BMX bike was missing. After searching for it for quite a long while, it became apparent that someone had probably stolen it. I don’t remember too much about the search, but after some time, some of the neighborhood girls (three or four of them?) gave a detailed account of someone taking the bike. After some more time, what was left of my bike was discovered somewhere across the street. A bunch of the parts were missing and what was left was unridable. Eventually, it was discovered that the girls completely fabricated the story about the person who had taken the bike and I found out that Jason had taken it. I confronted him. We were near a common hangout area within the middle of the red brick apartment buildings. I’m pretty sure the girls had gathered at the area, but this detail is fuzzy. What I do remember is that I felt betrayed by my friend and I was initially sad and confused about it. I expressed this in whatever way a kid that age expresses that. Instead of being at all remorseful, Jason was pretty much a dick about the whole thing. I became angry and actually shoved him. I wasn’t really intimidated by him because we had been friends and he wasn’t that much bigger than me. It became a wrestling match. I don’t remember how long it lasted, but I do remember how it ended. At one point, I had Jason in a headlock with his head tucked under my arm facing behind me. I knew that the brick wall was behind me and I backed up hard into it, slamming his head into the brick. He fell immediately to the ground and started crying pretty hard. I remember struggling between the feelings of satisfaction over having won the fight and the feelings of guilt and regret over having hurt someone. Especially someone I had liked. Of all of the fights I’ve been in, it’s the only one I can remember technically winning (excepting some I’ve had with my

red brick

Take my pretty red BMX bike, I give you pretty red brick wall.

brother who is 3 1/2 years younger than me). Our friendship was over, of course. I do remember those girls screwing with me for awhile afterward, but nothing worse than I had endured from ol’ Joey Ramone back in Illinois. Jason and the girls were all black, but I never felt like this case had anything to do with race. I think it was just a case of bike envy gone awry. It was a bunch of low-income families  and I had a fancy red bike. Nice things get taken in them parts, friendships be damned.


Shooting at the Walls of Heartache. Bang, Bang.
In that same apartment complex, I had another experience that I did not come out the victor in. But of all of the reasons I have been bullied, this one was probably the most humorous… In retrospect. I got to hanging around this group of about 4-5 boys, who I befriended when I happened to hear them listening to Van Halen in that common play area. They were listening to Panama and were singing along. I knew the words and joined in. It came to that part where it slows down and David Lee Roth gets all nasty and starts deeply sighing between all of the sentences:
“Yeah, we’re runnin’ a little bit hot tonight… (deep sigh)… I can barely see the road from the heat comin’ off of it… (deep sigh)… Ah, reach down.. between my legs.. and ease the seat back…”

Anyway, we all did this part together and then started cracking up together afterward,

david lee roth

The catalyst for male bonding?

even though none of us even knew what it meant. Well… I didn’t know, anyway. We started hanging out regularly and discovered other things that we had in common. One of those things was the love for a movie called The Warriors. And like the lyrics to that Van Halen song, it was probably a movie that we shouldn’t have had any business knowing about, as it was a pretty brutally violent movie about gangs. But we all knew it and loved it. Two of the fellas were brothers and I’m fairly certain their names were Steve and Doug. Steve was the older brother and was taller, but Doug was solidly built. Steve was pretty much the leader of the boys and he had the idea one day for us to start a gang. We all
thought it was a cool idea and so we started doing gang things. Like collecting weapons (sharp sticks, rocks, bottles and generally dangerous-looking things, like jagged metal or whatever); like wearing common clothing; and like coming up with rules. In the movie, a rival gang member famously taunted The Warriors by calling them out:

For some reason, we turned that into a rallying cry. I also remember that when we were forming this gang, that song The Warrior by Patty Smyth was huge and we would go around singing that later line:
“I am the warrior!
Yes, I am the warrior!
And victory is miiiine!!”
the warriors

I recently rewatched parts of this. It doesn’t hold up super great.

Our gang was cool (well, maybe except for that song), but it still needed rules. So we made up some and wrote them down. Somewhere along the way, Steve decided we needed a gang sign. Nope, not a sign to do with our hands. Like, a sign to hang up with our gang name on it, so people would know when they were entering our domain. He took it upon himself to make the sign. And then I saw it. He had misspelled Warriors. And not by a little. He had spelled it The Woryers (or something like that- there was definitely a Y in there). I pointed out his mistake. He, at first, argued with me about the spelling. When I eventually convinced him he was wrong about the spelling, he then told me it didn’t matter how it was spelled. I argued that having a big sign spelled incorrectly greatly diminished our credibility as a gang. He argued that the weapons were what made us credible. I said that the sign looked like it might sound like we were The Worriers… a decidedly unintimidating  name for a gang. At some point, I said that the sign looked stupid. That word again. Stupid. Bullies really hate that word. Especially stupid ones. I was immediately banished from the gang. At first, I wasn’t too bothered by it. Thug life apparently wasn’t for me. But then I realized I had pissed off four boys who had a cache of weapons and no rivals to compete with, therefore nobody to unleash all of their gangliness upon. Except for the stupid, wimpy little boy who had recently insulted them. So I, a founding member of The Woryers, found myself being quite harassed by that very gang. I basically found myself in my own one man gang. And I would have called it The Worriers.

The boys were pretty rough with me. I remember getting rocks thrown at me. And I remember getting shoved into the brick walls at times. But one incident still clearly sticks with me to this day. The two brothers, Steve and Doug, came upon me one evening at a bend in the building. It was dusk, and I remember the artificial light from a building lamp casting a yellow tint over the boys as they walked slowly toward me, backing me up to the brick wall. I happened to be holding a Nerf football at that moment. It wasn’t one of those fresh, soft Nerf footballs; no, this one was very used with a history of multiple previous water-loggings. It was hard and crusty. I instinctively became Dan Marino, displaying a lightning fast release of the football, throwing it at the general direction of Steve’s head. They were only about 8-10 feet away from me and I scored a hit. It hit Steve on the left side of his head and he immediately cupped his hand over his left ear and started howling in pain. I started running for my life. Soon after, I heard the terrifying sound of the brothers’ running foot steps behind me. I was fast, but they eventually caught up to me. They roughed me up pretty good, but the only part of the beating I remember was the kick Doug gave me. While I was still standing,

nerf football

Hard, crusty, and trusty.

he kicked me square in the gut so hard that I’m pretty sure the tread of his shoe can still be seen on some of my internal organs. I was gasping for air for a while after that one. I honestly don’t remember how long that whole thing went on, but thankfully, we moved away from those apartments after a short while. We moved into a little house on Cherry Road. But I apparently wasn’t done pissing people off and asking for trouble…


You’re the Best! Around! Nothing’s Gonna Ever Keep You Down!

This is a much shorter story about how I somehow managed to piss off a kid who was apparently a psychotic karate monster. I played with a couple of different kids while at the house on Cherry Road; one lived right next door, and the other was just across the (residential) street. I can’t remember their names, but I do remember playing wrestling. We were all fans of the WWF (what it was called back before the World Wildlife Fund bought the initials and the World Wrestling Federation became the WWE). We would get together in one another’s backyards and emulate our favorite wrestling stars. As usual, I was the smallest, so I would typically play the part of one of the quick, high-flyer types; attacking with drop kicks and jumping off of lawn furniture. The other boys were bigger and would play the parts of more powerful, slower guys that would pick me and body slam me, suplex me, and pile drive me. When I wrestled alone against my brother, I got to play the part of the big guy, so I actually got to play the part of all wrestlers! Anyway, I had gotten quite friendly with one of the boys (the one across the street), to the point where his dad was taking us out to dinners and movies and things. We got along pretty well, I thought. Well, one day he became really cold towards me. He wouldn’t tell me what he was upset about, but he was obviously angry. He stopped playing with me and every time I saw him he glared at me. This anger apparently festered. And this kid was apparently trained at the Cobra Kai dojo. I’ll never forget the day that I heard these loud sounds accompanied by the yell of the boy. I went out front to find out what the commotion was about, and I saw him standing just outside of his front door. He was dressed in a white karate outfit with his front door open and he was striking the door hard with straight punches. Over and over. With each strike, there was a loud wood-stricken sound, and he yelled out “YAA!” And the whole time he was doing this, he was looking directly at me with a ferocious snarl upon his face. The dude straight up loathed me, and I had no friggin’ clue why. Now, thankfully we moved before the kid ever had a chance to kick the shit out of me, but it always bothered me that I never discovered the actual reason why he began suddenly hating me. There was only one thing I could think of, and it didn’t seem to warrant that level of hatred; but then, who’s to say what might set off a 10-year old Johnny Lawrence. The only thing I could think of was that one day I had let the other friend over to my house to watch the Thriller video on VHS. My folks had it recorded and he hadn’t seen it in a long time and really wanted to. But my folks were not home at the time and I was under strict orders to not let anybody in while they


Dang, he actually did look a lot like this. Same hair. Same snarl.

were gone. I wasn’t much of a rule breaker, so when I finally relented and let the kid in, (who was really pushing the issue and offered me five bucks to see it), I was super nervous the entire time. I mean, it’s a really long video, and I kept worrying that my folks would pull up in the driveway at any minute. The kid didn’t even pay me because I fast-forwarded through some parts, I was so nervous. Well, the kid across the street found out about the video and also wanted to watch it on another day. I remembered how freaked out I had been the first time, so I said no…. that’s the only thing I can think of that might have pissed him off so much. I showed it to the other kid, but not to him. And so he wanted to destroy me…. It’s not exactly the same as stealing Elizabeth Shue from you, but hey, whatever makes you homicidal!


And I live in a small town. Prob’ly die in a small town.

After Oklahoma, we moved to upstate New York. I spent the first half of 5th grade in Clifton Park, New York. I have many good memories from Clifton Park, but I can’t recall any fights or bullies. In 1986, we moved to a little village a ways southwest of Clifton Park called Morris. I spent the second half of 5th grade through the first half of 8th grade there at Morris Central School; the longest I had spent anywhere, to this point. Morris was a pretty major environmental departure from anywhere else I had lived. It was very small. It had one stop light. There was one school for all grades and the classes were about thirty students large.. I don’t mean that there were that many students in a classroom.. I mean the graduating class size each year was about thirty students. And many of these kids were bussed in from various homes from the surrounding woods. Including me. I lived up on Harris Hill Road and you darn near needed a telescope to see our nearest neighbors. I could probably write a book about my years in Morris, as I have many wonderful memories from there, and there were many interesting quirks about the people there; but this post is about fights and bullies, so I’ll try to stay focused on that. Because Morris was such a small village, I think that adults who move there were perhaps viewed skeptically (even if they’re


Morris Central School. Not the clock tower from Back to the Future.

smiling big and welcoming you- you’re still an outsider for a long time). But when a new kid moves to Morris, the other kids see you as the shiny new thing and it’s pretty exciting! Having lived mostly in places where all the other kids were also continually moving, this was a new experience for me. I wasn’t used to so much attention or scrutiny. There were good and bad things about this. The good thing was that it kind of brought me out of my shell. I’ve always been a bit of a socially awkward person, and the positive attention toward me gave me some confidence. The bad thing about it was that it gave me some confidence. I talked too much and I thought I knew it all just because I had seen a lot of things these other kids hadn’t. I probably thought that I was impressing somebody, but I suspect I was just annoying folks before long.

Anyway, this was about the time that I learned how to utilize my sense of humor. I noticed that I could make people laugh at things I said or things I did. And it felt awesome. They say that good humor often comes from a place of pain or as compensation for short comings. And I guess this was true of me. It felt so good to make people laugh, that I found myself harming myself just to get that high. I would say that I was only average in the “wit” category, but I had pretty good timing, could make excellent goofy faces and voices, and was quite good at pratfalls and physical comedy. I found myself applying the things I had learned. The speed and quickness I learned at Taylor being chased by Bradley Dickensen and his friends came in handy in evading would-be abusers at Morris. The wrestling practice came in handy, as I remember a period when I allowed the bigger boys to take turns body slamming me for fun. I had learned from the movie Dragon Slayer that feeding the dragon an occasional virgin can keep the dragon from destroying the town- I guess the body slams were my version of that. Jerry, Casey, and Steve were some dragons that come to mind. I was the town in this analogy.. not the virgin. The body slams were the virgins. Ahem.. yeah. Digressing further, I remember times when we boys would get together to wrestle for real. This was an eye opener for me, because it revealed how wimpy I really was. The “wrestling ring” was a circle of the boys or a tent, and whenever I would be in line to face off against boys about my size (Andy or Shawn), I would think that I had a chance. But Andy had excellent balance and was good on his feet (he went on to be a stuntman), and while Shawn, the class sophisticate,  was not especially athletic, he was deceptively strong. I always lost.

Anyway, the humor. The humor was an excellent tool for defusing some situations. I remember an incident where I somehow pissed off Steve. Probably my smart mouth, because Steve was a pretty cool dude. Whatever I said or did facilitated the experience of me being lifted up by Steve and slammed back against the lockers. He held me there for a few seconds, thereby demonstrating his strength (it was all very reminiscent of Dickensen in the bathroom just two years prior); and then he dropped me. I fell to a kneel at his feet and was looking down at his shoes. There were quite a few people observing this, and I was very aware of that when I quickly untied his shoe and made some silly comment in a silly voice. It made some of the observers laugh and Steve just chuckled and gave me a dismissive wave of his hand. It was a powerful moment. It was almost worth it to me to get a little roughed up if it provided an opportunity to make others laugh. A little nugget of giddiness to allay some of my insecurities about being wimpy and awkward. There were several incidents like this one. Each laugh I got empowered and emboldened me. It went to my head. It wasn’t until my last year there when I realized that I had become a bit of an asshole. I was still making people laugh, but instead of using it defensively, I had started attacking people with humor. And I often targeted the guys who I knew could kick my ass. I had developed a bit of a prejudice against boys who were big and acted tough, and there were those that I targeted that I thought I could make look stupid with my words. It was like I dared them to beat me because I figured out that if the big boy beat little ol’ me up, it made him look bad. Especially if I was verbally jabbing him with comments that made observers laugh. It was pretty twisted and, frankly, I deserved more beatings than I got. Allow me to share two stories from Morris in which my arrogance led to fights:


The Doggone Girl is Mine

Having survived that second half of 5th grade, I came into 6th grade feeling pretty good about my place at this school. To this point, I had lived in 23 different homes and gone to 8 different schools, so I was feeling pretty established here after a half year. At some point in 6th grade, my humor attracted a girl. Or maybe it was my discovery of Aqua Net hairspray. Either way, be it silliness or stiff, styled hair, I received a note that was secretly passed around to me while sitting in Mrs. Perkins’ class one day. It read something to the effect of “Will you go out with me?” or “Will you go steady with me?” or “Will you be my boyfriend?”, followed by two boxes with a “yes” by one and a “no” by the other. It was signed by Jennifer. I looked across the room and saw Jennifer smiling shyly back at me, likely confirming its authenticity. Three questions quickly raced through my mind. One: How could I possibly check “no” when a girl is smiling all cute and expectantly like that? Two: What do I even do if I become a “boyfriend”? And Three: How does my hair look?! I sincerely didn’t have the first clue about how to act around girls. My most intimate relationship to this point with a girl was with ol’ Joey Ramone girl in Illinois who used to


Something like this, except I don’t remember a “maybe” choice. Only absolutes with Jennifer.

provide daily beatings with her sidekick thugs. This thought process was pretty quick, as I checked the “yes” box, fearing the look of disappointment or the consequence of icy disdain from Jennifer, should I have chosen “no”. And so with that, Jennifer officially became my first ever girlfriend. I didn’t realize at the time that this responsibility would come with so much drama. And it didn’t come from Jennifer.


It turns out that one of my close friends, Jeremy, had been a previous “boyfriend” of Jennifer’s. And judging by the way he acted, it had not been his decision to cease being Jennifer’s boyfriend. My relationship with Jeremy became… strained? It was a pretty weird rivalry. We got into a couple of physical fights over it, but I could tell he didn’t really want to hurt me and that he still pretty much liked me as a friend. I was the skinniest kid in the class (as usual), but Jeremy wasn’t too much bigger than me, so it was a pretty even fight. One of our fights happened during a huge field trip. It was a Safety Patrol-sponsored field trip down to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and then to Washington D.C. We took a nice commuter bus and it was a very long bus ride. While on that bus, tensions rose between Jeremy and I. I remember him repeatedly punching me in the abdomen, but me just laughing about it, because his punches were so wimpy. Of course, he was purposefully punching me lightly so as to not hurt me. I know this because he was kind of smiling the whole time in a way that suggested that he was doing what he thought he was scripted to do in this circumstance, but that he didn’t really want to hurt me because he liked me. And I was laughing at him like a dick. It made him look weak, and so the next time it got a little more rough.

At this little village in Morris in the 1980’s, they required that you go to church lessons every week (at least for some period of time). So, once a week, we would go from school down the road to the church and receive our spiritual lesson. I want to say that it was a Methodist church, but I can’t remember for sure. On these church days, we were supposed to look nice. Well, it was just before one of these trips to the church that Jeremy and I got into a fight. This fight broke out on the lawn outside of Mrs. Perkins’ class, and it involved a great deal of grappling on the grass. We were tossing each other around and rolling around and giving and receiving cute little rabbit kicks and punches. I remember that the intensity of the fight alternated between looks of seriousness and bouts of laughter, as we seemed at least partially cognizant as to the absurdity of the whole thing. By the time the fight was done, we looked absolutely ridiculous. Okay, we looked absolutely ridiculous during the duration of the fight also, but following the fight, our hair was in complete disarray and we had grass stains ALL OVER our clothes and skin. We went right into that church looking that way, and I think that was the day that our friendship truly rekindled. It was such a silly thing to experience together, and I think we knew that we weren’t ever gonna stop liking each other. So I broke up with Jennifer. I can’t say that I recall ever having done anything that really qualified me to be her boyfriend, aside from checking a box and then maybe holding her hand a time or two; but Jennifer was not happy about it. It’s funny- I

grass stains

I’m ready for church!

remember Jeremy trying hard to get Jennifer back as his girlfriend after that. I remember he and I discussing this at a school dance later. He wanted to dedicate a song to her and I talked him into it. He chose the song Got My Mind Set on You by George Harrison… not one of George’s best works, but it was quite popular at the time. I remember Jeremy spinning and dancing to the song with a pretty embarrassed look on his face after they announced his dedication… funny, the memories that stick. I don’t remember if he ever won back Jennifer’s affection.


My next fight story from Morris is shorter, but left me with regret that would serve as a lifelong lesson.


Tommy, Can You Hear Me? Can You Feel Me Near You?

So I mentioned earlier that I started to use my sense of humor in malevolent ways. This is the instance of that that has stuck with me for years.

Morris had a surprisingly diverse group, considering the tiny size of the town; but, naturally it had its share of good ol’ country boys. Two of the boys in the class were quite similar in many ways. Ray and Tommy were both tall, strong, with dark hair parted on the side, and country to their cores. Ray was very calm. The strong, silent type. It took a lot to get him riled, but if you did, Ray made sure you understood not to make that mistake again. We were band buddies, as we played trumpet next to each other and shared lots of laughs. He’s the guy you want your daughter to marry. Tommy was physically very similar to Ray, but Tommy was a hothead. Tommy had a short fuse and it was easy to spark it. I don’t remember what it was about Tommy that made me single him out during this particular time, but I was pretty relentless. He didn’t possess my wit, and I remember successfully ridiculing him with verbal jabs one day. I was feeding off of the crowd, and I definitely got the vibe that Tommy was an easy target for ridicule. Again, I guess my prejudice of big, angry boys got the better of me, and I pushed him too far. I’ll never forget the fight that resulted from my assholery. I was still ripping on Tommy while onlookers laughed, when I eventually realized that I was slowly being backed up to the brick wall of the school by an increasingly angry Tommy. As my verbal barbs continued, he eventually shoved me back to the wall. Now.. I don’t know what on earth possessed me to do this (perhaps the pressure of onlookers and the lack of escape routes), but I somehow found the guts and the inclination to bring a wild right hook up to Tommy’s face. It was the first punch I had ever thrown at someone’s face in a real fight. My right fist connected and his face turned abruptly to his right… and then it slowly turned back toward me. All my puny fist served to do was to push Tommy’s crazy button. Tommy’s face turned bright red, his eyes grew wide, and he started breathing in big deep breaths- his cheeks puffing in and out with each furious respiration. It looked almost exactly like Hulk Hogan looked when somebody hit him with a meaningless strike that only served to make him more invincible. Tommy looked scary and I was in deep shit. Tommy replied to my right hook with one of his own. His punch actually spun me around 180 degrees into the brick wall. The next thing I knew, my head was being squeezed in a vice grip headlock,

hulking out

This is very similar to the face I saw on Tommy before he walloped me.

and I was pretty sure it was going to pop. Soon, we both found ourselves being carried under each of Principal Hess’ arms to his office. I don’t remember what discipline came out of all of that, but I do remember what happened later. Soon after the fight (later that day, or within the next day or two), I found myself again poking a stick at the bear that was Tommy. We were in the boys’ locker room, and I was specifically targeting Tommy’s propensity for anger with my verbal assault. I guess I thought I couldn’t lose, as I would either elicit laughter from others with my acerbic wit, or I would elicit actionable anger on Tommy’s part, validating my words. Tommy, through a fit of anger and sadness, expressed that he was having trouble at home with his dad. I believe he said his dad was ill and Tommy was having a hard time with the whole ordeal. At this point, I was on too much of a roll to relent. I kept going until I realized that the other boys were looking at me like I was a complete jerk. Because I was. Tommy was an angry boy because Tommy was dealing with shit that a 6th grader shouldn’t have to deal with. I’ve never stopped feeling guilty for behaving that way, and I only wish that Tommy had gotten a few more punches in, because I deserved them.

I left Morris halfway through 8th grade, but I came back to visit during the summer of 1992, when I was 17. One of the things I remember the most about that return visit to Morris was seeing Tommy. I saw him at the county fair and he came right up to me, with his full mustache and big cowboy hat, looking every bit the part of the upstate country hick I had previously perceived him to be, and he gave me the biggest, most sincere smile and hug. He was genuinely very happy to see me. I’ll never forget the relief I felt that this guy, who had every reason to hold a grudge against me, was one of the nicest guys to me when I returned. He accepted the apology I never gave, and I’ve never forgotten the lesson I learned from that. I had actually been the bully. I never again relentlessly teased another person just to get laughs. Thanks, Tommy. And I’m sorry.


I didn’t realize how long this would be, when I set out to do it- but I probably should have, considering how many fights/bullies I’ve had. I left New York halfway through 8th grade and headed back to Germany. I’ll describe my life as a punching bag through junior high and high school in the next post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Golden Country Your Face is so Orange



Golden country your face is so orange

With all of your talking that splinters and scorns

Can you hear the sounds of his followers’ laughter

And have you thought about what will come after


Well some of you are hiding, but the rest are concerned

And he keeps on chiding, it doesn’t look like we’ve learned

How could we allow this type of thought to return


The time has come for you my friend

To all this ugliness, we must put an end

Before we leave we must make a stand, Oh


Rational people, come out of your homes

We must confront this madness wherever it roams

Be the voice against him, have something to say

We can’t let this country get led so astray


Well our country’s dividing, won’t you look and discern

The hate he’s inciting and reason being spurned

We need to start uniting and get this thing overturned


And the time has come for you my friend

To all this ugliness, we must put an end

Before we leave we must make a stand, Oh yeah


Golden country your face is so orange

It’s time for you to take your bully by his horns

Those who oppose him, they need to move faster

Before we’re all bowing to this puppet master


Well some of you are hiding, but the rest are concerned

And he keeps on chiding, it doesn’t look like we’ve learned

How could we allow this type of thought to return


Yes the time has come for you my friend

To all this ugliness, we must put an end

Before we leave we must make a stand, Oh yeah


Golden Country by REO Speedwagon


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Star Wars: The Blog Awakens

It lie dormant for years. Unreadable post after unreadable post gentled the beast and sent it into a deep hibernation. But now something stirs it from its slumber. A topic that has reignited the inspiration to write more unfunny, uninteresting posts on a pointless blog. The movie that has restored excitement and a new hope to the world wide geekery. And now I must write about it…

It has been a long absence for me from this blog, but I’ve been itching to write again, and what better topic to kick off my blog rebirth than with one I’ve already spoken so much about in the past. Star Wars. I feel like I can officially talk about the movie now that my dad and brother have finally watched it. There are multiple spoilers, so if you intend to watch the movie and don’t want spoilers, please stop reading… you already did, didn’t you? Oh well, I’m gonna talk about it anyway.

Let me start by mentioning that I liked the movie. I liked it much more the second time, though, because the first time I saw it my brain spent too much time critiquing the film. Also, I was sick and spending too much energy and concentration stifling coughs so the people around me wouldn’t be grossed out by my sick nastiness (it was a reserved seat and I didn’t know I’d be sick… I wasn’t gonna NOT go!). But why was I critiquing the film? It’s Star-frickin-Wars! Why couldn’t I just enjoy it and shut up the annoying voices in my head?! The answer is because I am too much like Spock. My human side was just giddily grinning ear to ear and taking in all the fantastic sights and sounds and characters that I love so much. But my Vulcan side found so many things about the movie highly illogical….. wait, was that a Star Trek reference?! Hmm. J.J. Abrams’ sic-fi infidelity has me all screwed up.


“Live long and prosper… in a galaxy far, far away.”

In sharing my criticisms, I’ll start with my general thoughts and then hit some specific silly things that probably never should have crossed my weird mind.

Like many fans, I was thrilled to see familiar elements, themes, characters, and settings from the original trilogy. It quickly erased the dirty taste that the prequel trilogy left in my mouth. In saying that, it really started to feel like it was dipping into that nostalgia well way too much. It started with a large Imperial.. er, First Order Star Destroyer launching ships for an attack on rebels.. er, resistance fighters. Realizing capture was imminent, important plans were loaded into a droid and the droid was sent away to safety. A sky-gazing youth on a desert planet gets swept up into the Resistance fight and discovers she has strength in the Force. Familiar lines were uttered. Familiar chase scenes occurred. A bar with shady aliens peering at our heroes was there. A bigger Death Star. A bigger Death Star gun/threat. A bigger plan to destroy it. A bigger explosion when the heroes succeeded. All good, but very, very familiar.

George Lucas

“Wait, didn’t I already make this movie?”

Now I’ll get into more specific quibbles. And since I was talking nostalgia, I’ll continue with some of the older elements infused into this movie that bothered my stupid brain.


The Millennium Falcon and Its Crew

I know, how could I? Perhaps the most beloved make believe spacecraft in history. And my human side loved seeing it. But then my Vulcan side asked questions. For one, how does a ship that is so regularly considered a “piece of junk” take such a massive beating and keep on flying? Honestly, that ship has been hit with so much laser fire; smashed into so many constructs and land masses; and suffered so many mechanical failings, that it makes no sense that it hasn’t fallen to pieces, or at least stopped working. Also, it makes no sense whatsoever that the cockpit of the ship is located clear on one side of the ship, leaving the entirety of the width of the ship to manage. Every obstacle you must negotiate has to be approached with the idea in mind that 95% of your ship is to your left. No wonder everybody smashes into everything!

As for the crew, it was a delight to see Han and Chewie board the Falcon, but even they did not escape my critical mind. I thought Harrison Ford brought Han back to life wonderfully (….. unintended play on words). But when he grabbed Chewbacca’s crossbow laser and was blasting baddies away, he was impressed by the gun. Chewie has been his shipmate for decades and he’s never fired the crossbow gun before?! Come on.



The stormtrooper known as FN-2187 was experiencing his first ever action on Jakku. Storming the Resistance settlement, this particular trooper found himself questioning their aggression. When a fellow trooper left the red hand of Saruman upon his helmet, FN-2187, now clearly identified, realized he was not built for this. And when the stormtroopers were ordered to kill everyone, he stood there without firing his weapon. This was all very good. But how did this one stormtrooper end up being the only one to question the ethics of… stormtroopering? Did he not know that the First Order was malevolent? Did he not hear the music that accompanied them?! Do none of them?! Also, I thought his character was awfully inconsistent in that he would go from being a cowardly buffoon to a courageous badass at different swings throughout the movie. Poorly trained, this FN-2187. Or poorly “conditioned”, as they say in the movie.

bloody stormtrooper

Identified by the brand of Saruman’s red hand, the dreaded Uruk-hai in stormtrooper armor is Mordor’s most formidable beast.



This is an adorable ball of droid that is apparently the only one of its kind in the galaxy. Weird. Apparently Abrams felt the need for new blood.. er, new metal in the droid department. It is cute, but this one really gets my Vulcan mind in a tizzy. I can tell you why this droid is one of a kind. Because it doesn’t make any design sense! A round, metal ball rolling over all manner of terrain. There are a couple things wrong with this. One is that if you attempted to accelerate a metal ball on many surfaces in the movie (sand of Jakku, metal of the Falcon interior, mud of Takodana), the ball would slip, and in some cases, just kick up sand or mud. At the very least, it would use excessive energy just to get started and to stop. I haven’t looked up the exact coefficients of friction for all of these surfaces to determine exactly how inefficient this mode of propulsion would be, but it just seems to make sense that it wouldn’t work great.


Engineered for cuteness. Not for practical functionality.

Also (and this is even more crazy to me), how in the world does a rolling ball packed with gadgets efficiently access those gadgets when it needs to? It just rolled all over the place and then it pops out what it needs in that slot in the front? What if that item is now oriented at its bottom or in the back now because it just rolled it around?! Is there another ball inside that holds the gadgets and just suspends inside while the exterior rolls?…. Actually that might make sense. But no, because the slots that open for gadget access would need to be all over the place. It doesn’t make sense!.. but it is cute.


Kylo Ren and Rey

I’m combining these two because my gripes mostly concern their interplay, but I’ll start with a couple of Kylo Ren-exclusive gripes. Now, I suspect that sometime in the next movie we’ll get a glimpse into how Ben Solo was corrupted and turned to the dark side and reborn as Kylo Ren. But the motivation that was partially revealed to us was the desire to be as evil as his grandfather, Darth Vader. This was revealed when Ren was speaking to the burned helmet of Vader and seeking inspiration to ward off the light; and it was revealed when Rey read his mind and discovered that he feared being less badass than Vader. I couldn’t help but wonder two things when I considered this. One, does Kylo Ren not know that Darth Vader was redeemed? He found the light and the good in him rescued his son from the evil Emperor Palpatine. He joined the spectres of Yoda and Obi Wan at the celebration on Endor when the rebels destroyed the Empire. Yes, he did commit many heinous atrocities, including Sand People genocide, youth Jedi-in-training murders, attempted murder of his mentor and best friend, abandonment of his pregnant wife who died of a broken heart, persistent harassment and ordered murder of his own daughter, murdering of his former mentor and best friend, carbon-freezing his daughter’s boyfriend, multiple choke-kills of high-ranking Imperial officers, dismembering his son’s hand, and trying to kill his son to impress the Emperor. Oh yeah, and the obliteration of his daughter’s ENTIRE PLANET AND EVERYONE ON IT!! But, hey… he saved his son and it was all good again. He found the light and Kylo Ren seems to be

burned vader mask

Or maybe it was a hood ornament on the Millennium Falcon?

forgetting that. Vader should not be his inspiration to ward off the call to the light, as Vader ultimately lost that battle. The second question I had about this was.. where did he get the Vader mask?! Did he have to go to Endor and search old campfire sites? Did he steal it from a museum? Did Han and Leia keep it in a trophy cabinet? Did Luke keep it so he could put it on once in awhile to see how it would have felt to turn bad? Will I never find out this unimportant detail?!

Now as far as the Ren and Rey interplay, I have one major gripe. I really like both characters, but I can’t help but wonder how it was that someone who had apparently been training with the force for years basically got his ass handed to him by someone who just discovered the force. I mean, one second she’s getting frozen and knocked out by the wave of Kylo Ren’s hand and then having her thoughts sucked out of her brain while restrained; the next second she’s sucking Ren’s thoughts, mind-controlling stormtroopers, and wielding a lightsaber as if she’s been training with it for years. And she didn’t even have Obi Wan guiding her with his creepy ethereal voice! I know Ren was injured when he fought Rey, so he has that excuse going for him, but she straight up paddled his ass with the lightsaber! I’m all for girl power, but it seemed a little silly… until I thought about her possible origins.

Kylo Ren, we discover, was a child born to Han and Leia. Leia, as we know, was one of two twins conceived by the powerful Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader). Leia’s mother, Padme, was seemingly not especially strong with the force, Anakin was legendarily powerful. Ben Solo clearly inherited that power. But where does Rey come from? That’s one of the movie’s fun mysteries, and it becomes all the more juicy when you consider her apparently raw, amazing power with the force. We have established that Kylo Ren= Han + Leia= powerful with the force. And we know that Rey= ? + ?= MORE powerful with the force. This leads me to believe that Luke Skywalker may be Rey’s father. He’s super powerful. But even he needed time to train with Yoda to learn how to hone this power and become a Jedi. Rey looks well on her way to being a Jedi now. So who might Rey’s mother be in order to make her so powerful with the force? I’ll just leave you this picture to explain my theory:

luke and leia

Leia and Luke lovin’ like Lannisters? Might’ve made for powerful baby Rey.

I know, gross. But how else will they top “[Luke].. I am your father”?… How about with “Rey… we are your mother and father… and aunt and uncle!”


Cowardly Jedi Masters

If you are like me, your might have thought Yoda was a complete badass in the prequel movies. One of the few highlights. And if you are like me, you might have wondered why he tucked his tail and ran after his fight with Palpatine. By my eye, it was a close draw. And even if Yoda felt he was defeated in that battle, why would he exile himself to Dagobah forever and allow Palpatine and the evil Empire to flourish?

The plot of this new movie revolved around the search for Luke Skywalker. Not because he was captured by bad guys. Not because he accidentally piloted into a mysterious wormhole. Nope. He’s missing because he exiled himself to some remote planet because he felt bad that one of his students turned to the dark side. Ok, yes, it was his sister’s and best friend’s son, which might have added to the shame and guilt. But he ran away and allowed the Supreme Leader Snoke and The First Order to flourish. How can we respect

yoda and luke

“Yes.. feel the force flow through you. And get used to running. That’s what we do.”

these Jedi masters when they run away forever every time things go wrong? Did Palpatine and Vader whine and run away when the rebels blew up their Death Star in Episode IV? No. They bucked up and got right back to work building a new Death Star. Now that’s a lesson I can get on board with. Plus I would look awesome in a dented helmet and a cape. Sign me up for the Dark Side!


Sun-sucking Death Star

The new massive weapon in this movie is basically a planetary Death Star. The First Order was wise to spare the time and expense of building a massive steel construct that would eventually just get blown to smithereens by the good guys. This time they just decided to retrofit an actual planet and build a big gun into it. This is cool. My issue with it is that the big gun is charged by a star. It sucks a sun’s nuclear energy dry in order to dispel a massive sun beam that is able to level multiple planets in one gigantic shot. The base is actually called Star Killer. But if you suck the solar system’s source of solarness dry, then do you really need to blow those planets up? I mean, it might actually be way crueler to watch the planets all freeze and starve. Less dramatic, yes. But way darker.


Anyway, I did love the movie. It was really fun and I really like the new characters. It was kind of obvious that they were going to have Han killed by his son, but I liked the way they did it. It didn’t escape me that Abrams smartly set up characters that can carry on Solo’s presence. It was sorely missing in the prequels. You have Han’s cocky, great piloting and smartass comments in Poe Dameron. You have Han’s capable heir to the Millennium Falcon and Chewbacca’s companionship in Rey. And you have Han’s propensity for occasional humorous incompetence in Finn. His spirit will live on.


You’ll still miss me.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment