In tenth grade I was sent to another High School. The Administration knew it was best to separate me from my buddies, my Dad agreed. It was easy enough for the Administration to do this because right down the block, a whole five houses away from my house was the line that divided East from West. All I had to do was walk an extra house or two and I could catch the bus to the other High School in our district. One side of the road went to East and the other side went to West.
In Junior High School we all knew what school we would be going to and alliances were made in preparation for the big transition into High School. Severed from my trouble making friends I was suddenly alone.
Not only was I being sent to another High School I was being sent to the other side.
The first day of High School I found out my locker was next to a 12th grader who was huge, on the football team and friendly with the cheerleaders.
This oversized freak of nature is talking to a pretty blonde while leaning on my locker.
I try again “Excuse me”.
He still doesn’t move. I try being a little forceful but the guy is huge and it’s the first day.
“You think I can get to my locker?”
He turns from the girl and looks over his shoulder at me, says nothing and continues talking to her. Now I know he does not know me or my family and he doesn’t care if I want to get by.
I don’t say a word at first but it gets to me after he keeps talking, blowing me off.
I realize I am not making it through the first day without having to proof I am not going to be picked on. My knees get that feeling you get in gym class when you climb the ropes but I speak up anyway.
“I NEED TO GET TO MY FUCKING LOCKER” I shout over his conversation.
In an instant he turns on me, grabs me by both elbows and lifts me over his head. I am tall for a tenth grader but as thin as stick and my wiry arms can’t even move in his grip. I start to believe he is going to toss me through the air and I prepare for what I’ll do next.
I think about how harsh my landing is going to be.
But he calls me twerp or something and puts me back down. He feels like a big Man but I know in that one move he doesn’t have the balls to go toe to toe. I have three violent older brothers. When he puts me down I mouth off.
I call him an “ass slapping faggot jock” or something like that. I move back a few feet and wait on his charge. I am pretty sure he will grapple with me or try and get me in a headlock or some High School move. The only sport my Dad taught me as a kid was boxing. I line up the overhand right.
I miss as he runs at me, grabs me and pushes me across the hallway towards the other lockers. The crowed hallway parts as I go backwards with a freight train pushing me back towards the wall and another set of lockers. He gets to full speed and at the last second I pivot my foot and hips, bring my body around and instead of me hitting the lockers he does. He loses his grip on me. I jump back on my toes, hands up, grinning and praying for a teacher to break it up before I run out of last minute moves.
He is shocked that I have turned it around on him and he may be in a fight with a skinny kid who will hurt him even if he wins. I am game now and he knows it. But instead of getting angry he starts to laugh.
“I Like you kid. I like you. You’ve got balls” and for the last time he lifts me up by the elbows over his head for the whole crowd to see. He places me down in front of my locker affirming his might and my place.
We stand shoulder to shoulder the rest of the year as we get our books from our lockers. When I walk down the hallway with him I am sure I won’t have to deal with any of the twelfth, eleventh or tenth graders who don’t already know me. I am also sure I will not have to sick my brothers on him. After all he made a pretty good first impression.