About Kingston’s Short Stories: In this series, I’ll be sharing one story from every year of my life. The stories may at times seem mundane, but its these day to day occurrences that define us. A lesson is then pulled from each story.
“Get Out Of The House Boy!”
When I was 15, classes became a real drag, not because I hated going to school, but because I had to get there so early. 8 in the morning was not an ideal time, I would always be there at the last minute. Some days I wouldn’t make it, I spent a few minutes too long eating breakfast, or the bus arrived a few minutes later then scheduled.
My high school dings you for tardiness. If you get 5 lates in a semester you get a U (unsatisfactory) for citizenship. And to no one’s surprise I would get a U for my first morning class.
It got to the point where my mom would be hounding me to get out the door in the morning. Didn’t really work for me and getting to places on time on the morning is still a struggle.
I remember one time, I had PE class in the morning, I took punctuality for this class even less seriously. It was quite ridiculous this time, I was an hour late.
As I walked to the locker room to go get changed, I heard a couple boys playing down the road. Once they came into sight I sensed trouble. One of them yelled,
“Hey throw it hella hard!”
My heart sank a little.
Getting A New Badge
A felt a pain right below my eye. I was dazed and confused.
I stumbled into the boys bathroom looking for a mirror. A huge swell right under my eye.
Yeah this is gonna be a black eye.
The two boys were waiting outside. They saw my eye,
one of them said.
I gave them an angry look as if to say to the two boys playing with a golf ball,
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m sorry man,” said the boy who threw the golf ball.
I was lucky, I got hit with the ricochet that bounced off the wall. Suppose they call “fore” for a stray ball for a reason.
I stumbled away meekly, still confused, and went to find my PE teacher. He sent me to the school nurse to get patched up. She said I was fine and that it will take a while before it healed up but yeah, there was going to be a black eye. I called home,
“Yeah mom I got another black eye.” (Not the first time)
I honestly don’t remember if I went to school that day.
The problem I had was that I would still be going to school with a disfigured face. Sunglasses were my answer, I never wore them, but there was an old kids pair lying around. They were orange, a silly color I thought, so I painted them black with a sharpie.
Next day I got comments, people saw me with my shades and asked,
“Are you high?”
“Nice shades bro.”
“Did you get into a bar fight?”
Kinda hard to be my wallflower self with a newly minted badge. Especially since I needed to wear real glasses to see the board in class so I couldn’t keep the shades on indefinitely.
The Heart of Insecurity
Going home, I was too ashamed to take the crowded bus. Normally I would pick between the bus or walk home with some of my buddies. Walking with my buddies was the only real option right now.
During this walk home, there was one boy that I didn’t know walking near us. He started being a real annoying prick, constantly teasing me about my black eye. He started running around me and my friends teasing about the black eye, saying he’ll take pictures of it.
Eventually I snapped,
“YOU WANT ME TO GIVE YOU A BLACK EYE!?”
I screamed at the top of my lungs as I started chasing after him ready to pounce. The boy ran away and I chased after him into the street.
Now this was Bay St in San Francisco. Anyone that has ever seen it knows that it is a very busy boulevard with cars whizzing by.
As the chase entered the street, I was standing between two parked cars, the boy was nimble, he bolted back around another parked car, avoiding me and the cars barreling by amidst all the honking on what we were doing.
I expected my friends I was walking home with would have my back and at the very least be standing behind me to back me up.
They weren’t. They just kept on walking as if nothing happened. They acted as though things were normal. I didn’t know what to do and rejoined them.
No one spoke when we went to take another bus home.
The boy that was teasing me about the black eye was there too. I glared at him during the entire bus ride, he refused to make eye contact.
5 Lessons I Learned
First off is to be on time. Common sense but something I still struggle with to this day. What I’ve done is I no longer have a job where I’m expected to come in early in the morning day in day out (well not the primary reason I don’t have a job any more but a little side bonus)
Second is there is no justice in the world unless you make it. Those two kids that where throwing a golf ball and hit me, yeah he said sorry several times. And I glared at them when I passed them in the halls, but they were never punished. I never went after them demanding reprimand, so these two got off scott free. Teachers and school admins would merely have more work on their hands with nothing to gain.
Thirdly, if you explode you expose your insecurities. The way I chased that boy I to the busy street for making fun of my badge was a tell tale exposure of an insecurity. I wore sunglasses and avoided the bus because of this insecurity, and it was exposed in this little episode. This doesn’t mean too much with grade school boys, but with adults who hold power and have nefarious intent, it could easily be exploited if you expose your insecurities like the way I did.
Fourthly, during trying times is when people show you their true colors. The guys I was walking home with whom I considered friends, abandoned me in the hour I called them to action. They are no friends (Side story: this wasn’t the first time they abandoned me, once we were going to see a movie together and they changed dates last minute without telling me nor returning my calls. Their response the next day? “Don’t worry man, it wasn’t even a good movie.”)
Fifthly, I’m lucky. Incredibly lucky beyond my comprehension. Lucky that golf ball didn’t take out an eye or a couple teeth. Lucky that boy I chased into the street didn’t get run over by a car. Lucky nothing really bad happened after all the stupid stuff I did in my teenage years and even into my twenties. Lucky…
Just lucky. And I don’t pause enough to be grateful for whatever force that has been protecting me.