(sorry for not blogging lately, I realized I didn’t really want to talk about the third fight but I also didn’t want to leave the story of those fights hanging without the ending lesson so I was stuck with other things to say but knowing I had to say this first but not wanting to say it at all. Now, I figure I might as well just say it and get it over with so I can move onto more fun stuff)

This is the only time in my life that I lost control. Complete and total lack of control. Was I pushed? Yeah. Beyond my breaking point? Yeah. But I learned a lesson that stuck with me since that day and it’s not the lesson you’d think I’d have learned.

I had a study period so I was doing what I always did during a study period and not studying. Instead I was in the library with my glasses on the table and my head down next to the book I was reading. A teacher brought in her class to do some kind of assignment. No skin off my nose, barely even noticed them, until one idiot thought it would be hilarious to shoot rubber bands at the guy with his head down on the desk. Because rubber bands to the eyes equals instant comedy. But his aim was awful and he had a hard time even hitting my table. No big deal. Annoying but I kept reading. But I was aware.

Aware because I knew deep down that a lesson I’d learned from nearly everybody in authority was wrong. If you ignored the bullies they wouldn’t go away, they would escalate until you had no choice but to react.

So, I was aware of the kid missing me with the stupid rubber bands. I knew he was going to escalate. I didn’t know how but I knew to be alert. Therefore it wasn’t a surprise to me when he came over and stole my glasses.

That was a mistake.

I cannot see more than two feet without corrective lenses. My glasses were not an aid to me but something that literally kept me from walking out into traffic. Taking my glasses was like taking a crutch from a man with a broken leg. He could still function but not well.

But I was aware.

I stood up as he passed by me with the glasses in his hand, grabbed his shoulder and slammed him into the bookshelf. My forearm against his throat. I was six foot two and two hundred and twenty pounds. He was about five ten and less than one fifty. Silly of him to try to provoke me but he thought he had protection because he was on the football team (which was stupid of him since my brother had been the QB for three years and was a volunteer coach for that year and while I didn’t have protection exactly I also wasn’t worried about them).

He desperately gave me back my glasses and I let him down to the ground.
That should have been the end of it but over my shoulder I saw his friend and I realized the extent of his idiot plan. Pig in the middle. Using my glasses. Funny. A mild joke of making a show of wearing someone’s glasses? Harmless, you can leave it alone even though it’s annoying. But a plan to toss my glasses across a library for giggles? They were two hundred bucks. My parents weren’t going to buy me another pair. The likelihood of them getting damaged in the idiot game? High.

This made me angry.

But I was willing to live and let them live.

The first kid said one insult and I leaned in and I’m pretty sure he saw the murder in my eyes without me having to even warn him. Though how easy I caught him and how easy I manhandled him was probably warning enough. He ran off back to his table without a parting word.

His friend on the other hand? He decided that what the situation needed was one more insult.

He was wrong.

No control. The memory of that fight is in flashes of scenes. Like still pictures. I pushed him, he threw a punch, I ducked it, punched him in the side, he tried to grab hold of me, I picked him up with my off hand and threw him almost over a table. His heels caught the edge and the table went over as he fell to the ground. The punch combined with the fall meant he had no breath. I was on top of him. Loading up. All that anger, unchained rage, going into one punch.
A bad punch. Dangerous punch. Not exaggerating when I say a punch that could have changed both of our lives for the worse.

His teacher screamed. I snapped out of it. Got up shaking with anger. Knowing I was going to be expelled. Too much. Too violent. Only a couple of months left and I was going to be expelled. We got separated and went down to the office to wait for the vice principal.

The kid (I should say this, he was in the grade below me but I was in a grade above the one I should have been in and we should have been in the same grade. It wasn’t a senior beating up a junior or whatever, it was two guys that were the same age) apologized to me for his idiot friend before we got in the office. We were okay, not good exactly, because of the likely expulsion, but okay. I know you can get stuck in your friend’s stupidity.

The vice principal called us into his office together and imparted the lesson that has stayed with me since then. He turned to the kid and talked about the size discrepancy between me and him, and told the kid he was going to be in bars in the city in less than a year. His mouth, with his attitude, combined with his friends, meant he’d probably end up dead or crippled. The vice principal used me as an object lesson to get that through to the kid. Six inches taller, seventy pounds heavier, and (this is the part that hit me square between the eyes) there are going to be guys in the city that are going to be as much bigger than me as I was bigger than the kid.

The kid thanked him for the lesson, said he’d keep that in mind, made a rueful joke about not wanting to be thrown over any more tables in his life and we both left. No punishment.

The vice principal said that he hoped the kid had learned his lesson and that was the most important thing. As for me? He thanked me for my restraint because if someone had taken his glasses as a joke he didn’t know if he could have stopped himself like I had.

The fact I got away with it wasn’t a lesson (though it finally showed me that those in authority weren’t necessarily out to screw me any chance they got), no, the lesson I took away from it?

I was that kid in relation to the wider world.

Yeah, I was big in a small town. Tough in a small town. But there were dudes way bigger than me out there. Way tougher than me. With a chip on their shoulder just as prominent as mine. What benefit was there in proving my toughness? Why risk getting in a bar fight? What did it prove and what would I gain?


That’s a lesson we all learn eventually and I bless that vice principal with teaching me that lesson without having to lose blood to learn it.

Never did get in a bar fight. Only once did I come close but I was able to shrug it off and keep dancing.

I always liked dancing better than fighting anyway.

Thanks for reading,