I am 38 years old and I am still looking forward to hitting puberty. Now don't get me wrong, I have a few chest hairs (5 I think) and I am almost able to grow a beard. The sides just won't fill in so I have this whole “Shaggy” from Scooby-Doo thing going on. So, as you can imagine, I've always been a little bit behind my peers when it comes to growing up. Zoiks Scoob, I need to get on with the story.
What you are about to hear is an epic tale of bravery that changed the life of one young man forever.
We moved from upstate New York (That's right, upstate, the fake NY) to Florida when I started 6th grade. So, I didn't know anybody when I started middle school. Within the first few days I had made a handful of friends and had learned which kids I should steer clear of. One of those kids was a boy who had obviously failed a few times. I think he was the only kid in middle school who was old enough to drive himself to school. In fact, I heard a rumor that this kid had a son who was in 7th grade. This kid was big and he was a bully so everyone tried to avoid him.
In the cafeteria, I had just gotten my little divided tray filled with barely recognizable items that they called lunch and I was too busy determining what it was to notice that I was walking into the middle of a very dangerous situation. That's right, there was about to be a fight. Suddenly, this shadow eclipsed my tray of mystery meat and I looked up to see that I was face to face with this bully kid. With his deep voice (sounding a bit like James Earl Jones) he asks, “You got a problem?” I looked at his face and was relieved to notice that he wasn't looking at me. With catlike reflexes I whipped my head back to size up his intended opponent. Oh, that poor kid behind me is about to get pummeled and I get to have a close up view of the action. This is so exciting.
Now, I look back at this bully smiling with anticipation for his next move. “I said, do you have a problem”, he repeated. I caught myself nodding and smiling as I was thinking to myself, “That's right, he did say that and that kid better answer him” but I heard no response and this bully was getting more pissed. I don't know why fights are so exciting but I was really hoping to see some good action here.
Well, now the bully is getting very annoyed that this kid won't respond. “Do you want me to beat your ass?”, he asks. That's kind of a dumb question when you think about it but I wanted to see a good fight so I was nodding and smiling and thinking, “Yes, beat his ass”. Again, no response. This kid is really asking for trouble. The bully is really getting frustrated, he is running out of options other than the use of violence. “What is your fecking problem?”, he asks. I find myself, once again, acting out what I am thinking. I shrug my shoulder and look confused thinking, “I don't know WHAT his problem is”. I know that if this bully were talking to me like that I would say something, anything, to avoid getting beat up.
To my disappointment, the bully simply gave up. Maybe it was the fact that the entire cafeteria was dead silent and everyone was watching but he simply walked away.
Noise resumed in the cafeteria as I sat down with my handful of friends who were just staring at me in silent disbelief. One of them finally spoke, “Dude, that was like the bravest thing ever”. I had to clear this up, “No No No, he was looking at some kid behind me.” What my friend said next changed this story completely, “No, he has one eye that looks at you and the other one doesn't”. That's right, I stared into the face of death and looked at the wrong eye.