You have to understand the backwards Kentucky like Massachusetts town I grew up in. Westport, MA - this place is, by all acc
ounts, beautiful and serene. Sleepy streets with weeping willows, gently touching quiet ponds that quench the thirst of lazy cows grazing in the sun. The sweet smell of the salt air suddenly catching your nose with the change of a breeze - seriously stunning. BUT, as a kid who was, perhaps a little "different" all was not well. At least all of the time.
I suppose my trouble started with a well intended new Principal at our elementary school. When we moved to Westport initially, my elementary school was 4 rooms. Two up and two down. Each room was for a grade, one through four. Like I said, Kentucky, folks. One might assume this was in 1814, but it was actually 1976. The year after I got there, a new school was built and was suddenly filled with hundreds of kids. I still have no idea where they all came from, but maybe they shuttled them in. Who knows - it's not the point.
Mrs. Damm was her name, and she was all about her kids. I also had a math teacher, I th
ink, that was named Mrs. Rodriques or Rodgiques or something like that, who liked me. Since my mom and sisters had recently decided that ice skating would be our new sport (I guess soccer was full and gymnastics hadn't been invented yet) I happily tagged along. Now, I was always into matchbox cars and riding my bike, but since I had two sisters, I was also well versed in hair and make up by the time I was about 7 - so figure skates over hockey skates it was.
As it turned out, my sisters were... eh, er, ok at the skating but I was a born natural. On our first day skating, some lady came up to my mom and asked her how long I had been skating. She politely responded, "about twenty minutes" completely honestly. My mom - who was at this point, about 26 or 27, had not yet honed her penchant for sarcasm. The mystery woman laughed and said, "not today, how long has your son been an ice skater?" A little annoyed, mom responded through her half smile, "about twenty two minutes now, I suppose".
Rita was her name - Rita Blair. I will never forget this lady who transformed my life, in one quick chat with my once teen mom. As it turned out, Rita was the instructor for the local ice skating school and thought that I should enroll at once. She was shocked at my natural ability to glide across the ice, while all the other beginners were grasping the wall for dear life. It seemed so easy to me and I had no idea what all the fuss was about, I was just doing what everyone else there was doing. Spinning around, skating backwards - Apparently I was something of a wonder as these skills of mine were not normal. Who knew?
I was immediately signed up for skating school and began competing soon after. New skates were ordered and a profess
ional coach was brought in. Douglas Somethingslovak was his name and he was an Ice Dancer. So, then I was too. I competed in several competitions over the next few years and eventually dropped out of skating completely. My peers, it turns out, didn't think it was as cool as Mrs. Damm and Mrs. Rodrigues did.... not even close.
Once I started to have some local recognition about my newly found talent, newspaper articles and such, the principal thought it would be great to put a display case up in the new lobby of the school. So a big glass case was filled with pictures, newspaper clippings and all of my new blue ribbons and medals. It was like I was Michael Phelps! (My parents last name is Phelps, so this is particular hysterical to me, and now, to you too) All I had to do was wait for all of the kids to want to be my best friend and wish to be seen with me in all of my new celebrity. There would be lines of kids waiting to sit with me in the new Cafetorium (no lie, that is what it was called) and crowds would swarm me on the recess fields for tether ball tournaments, that I would always win. Sigh.... quite the opposite happened.
Now I am not sure how these kids knew to be so mean so young. I was, in a flash of a second, newly labeled the "class fag". As a kid of so few years, I had no idea either what that meant or why it was so important to them for me to be disliked. Like I said, I know the teachers and faculty were trying to champion my career and try to support their students interests - and had they known the actual effect of their efforts I have to believe they would have made more responsible choices.
One kid, one mean red headed freckle faced mutha effin kid just had it out for me. From the moment in elementary school to the a moment in middle school - perhaps mentioned soon, this kid just made my life hell. Mentioning his name hardly seems fair - I happen to believe in karma, so once has to hope he is already living above his parents garage, with three kids that he can't support and a porn habit. Gay porn habit, what the hell - it's my story.
There is one caveat to my torture that is worth mentioning. One day in middle school, a particularly difficult time in my tortured time, this punk ass ginger head and I had a little interaction in the boys room. It was in the section of the school where the two teachers, Mr. Gomes and Mr. Gomes both worked. They were brothers and one smelled bad and the other wore too much cologne. Just weird this place was, truly weird. Anyway, Red walked into the bathroom as I was finishing up my business at the urinal and I just panicked. What would he do? Was he going to hit me? Push me against the wall or worse, pick me up and put my head in the toilet like I had se
en in movies? Shit - I was freaking out.
What happened next is blurry but I remember enough to recount. He said "Hey Mike" to me. Just like that. "Hey Mike" like we were friends. Like he hadn't just embarrassed me in front of everyone ten or eleven minutes ago in the hall by kicking my books out of my hand. The nerve! Now I have no idea how my twelve year old brain processed this injustice but I can tell you how my body react
ed. I freaked out on him. Like, black-chick-who-was-just-called-a-fat-bitch freaked out. I punched him, kicked him, pulled his hair and got him on the ground. Once he was down I kicked him and stomped on his head and spat on him. I had gone ghetto and I had no idea how to stop my rage. He begged me to stop and told me that I was hurting him.
At some point I got a hold of myself and left the bathroom. I left my torturer bloody on the floor, gasping for air. I had messed him up pretty good and I was not even the slightest bit concerned. After straightening myself up a little, I returned to class feeling much better about my life and self.
My boy, Red, left school that day for a couple of days to recover and never told who is attacker was. There was never a moment of concern or regret or remorse for my behavior. I knew he wasn't going to tell anyone who beat his ass - he would have quickly become the new class fag. He wasn't going to be wearing my tiara, or my sash. I was, as they say, off scott free. As you might guess, ginger bush left me a wide berth the rest of our school career. I hope he learned a valuable lesson. I know I did...