A History of Violence

I think it’s clear to anyone who has beaten me senseless with a crowbar without fear of retribution that I am not a violent person. While others were studying the physical arts of ju-jitsu or boxing in their youth, I busied myself perfecting the sort of intellectual wit that encouraged those other little ninjas to demonstrate what they learned in karate class. But I never cared for physical violence. Why bother inflicting fisticuffs, I rationalized, when I could undermine someone’s confidence about their purchase of a Kajagoogoo album? A black eye can heal in a matter of days, but an emotional scar could require decades of therapy. I still think I made the right choice.

But my personal history is not without incidents of pummeling and general stabbiness. And in the interest of full disclosure, should my attempts to cover up these black marks affect any future bid for president or interview with Oprah, I would like to present this, the absolute lamest confessions of violent acts ever committed to paper.

We’ll start with poor Jon Jefferies, my next-door neighbor when we were both children. Little golden-haired Jon-Jon, adorable in his Donald Duck sailor suit, the four-year-old apple of his mother’s eye - he was the poster kid for preciousness itself. So you can certainly understand why he had to be destroyed. With no provocation, my friend Dale Foster and I would rhapsodize wickedly on the violent demise of the innocent Jefferies boy. “Let’s give him a cup of gasoline,” Dale would say. “And we’ll tell him it’s Kool-Aid!” Entertaining notions like these seems like great fun for preschoolers, which is proof positive that children are all vicious demon seeds who should be locked in cages until they’re 18, at which time they should be transferred to federal prison for life.

We didn’t poison Jon. But one day, while playing in the backyard, this spirit of hostility towards the boy inspired me to smack him right in the head with the teeter-totter I was riding. Jon walked a bit too close and I decided to give the swing an extra push to ka-pow the youngster right on his angelic noggin. My guilt, which I had been too immature to predict, was instantaneous. And to add insult to injury, it was HIS swing set.

Fortunately, the evidence at the crime scene suggested it had been an accident, and since the Jeffries moved away shortly after his clobbering, I’ve had no verification of whatever cranial or brain damage Jon may have suffered. But if Jon Jefferies’ children are reading this, I’m dreadfully sorry if you have to help your father tie his shoes. You can rest assured, after helping Dad with his helmet and bed straps, that I learned my lesson at that tender age and never inflicted violence on another living creature again. 

Except for that other time when I stabbed my father in the nose with a pencil. But I swear that was a carefree toss, intended to whimsically bounce off his head – a playful gesture gone awry. Instead, it flipped gracefully through the air and landed dead-center in his face, jutting out like a unicorn horn. And admittedly, in spite of my father’s completely justifiable rage over potentially losing an eye, I did secretly think it was kind of funny.

And okay, there was that other incident in school when I picked up that discarded afro pick with the metal teeth and drove it right through Eddie’s foot. But Ed was a spaz who flinched defensively over any movement, so I honestly believed he would move his foot out of the way before I jabbed the comb into the concrete. And hey, I wasn’t the only one laughing like hell about it as he hopped around squealing, so don’t single me out for bastardhood. Even Eddie had a sense of humor about it, referring to me as Ash the Impaler afterward. We still laugh about it. Ed has no driver’s license today, so he walks everywhere. His damn foot is FINE, okay? 

I learned my lesson that day. And then I learned it again when I inflicted the most shameful, underhanded, below-the-belt maneuver imaginable to a young boy: a well-aimed shot right in the particulars of my good friend, Timmy Holcombe.

While our 5th grade class was enjoying a bathroom break, Timmy and I discovered the fine art of a wet paper towel flung on the ceiling. The dripping remains of our fun gave us away. And so it was that Timmy and I were sent to the boy’s room with a broomstick, ordered to scrape every last one of the towels off the ceiling. This turned out to be almost as much fun as throwing them up there had been in the first place, and when the last sopping towel remained, Timmy and I actually began to fight over the privilege of scraping it off. We struggled on either end of the stick, yanking back and forth, until I was struck with an ingenious idea for making him release his grip. One good blast to the Toughskins with my right foot sent Timmy up against the wall and slumped to the floor. Eventually, Timmy recovered enough from his gasping and wheezing to get up and return to class. But he didn’t forget.

Timmy got his revenge the following year. Another spirited outburst of destructive euphoria broke out when a case of chocolate-covered cherries was discovered in the trash by our bus stop. They were too old to eat, but as we immediately discovered, perfect for hurling. So we spent the entire bus ride joyfully walloping each other with the candy. As soon as we arrived at school, I saw Timmy in the parking lot and, because he was my best friend in the whole world, immediately flung a chocolate cherry right at his head. Tim caught the candy and hurled it right back at me with the skill of a major leaguer. It landed right in my cherries.

I collapsed on the ground, tears streaming, unable to speak. A crowd of concerned schoolgirls gathered around, deeply alarmed at my thrashing, which added to the humiliation quite nicely. I looked up and saw, among this crowd of worried females, good old Timmy, beaming proudly.

“That’s for 5th grade,” he said.

It was a gift that Timmy tossed at my testes that day. I now had, delivered straight to my crotch at great velocity, a tangible definition of karma - one that I could call upon for the rest of my life.

I milked the injury so that the school nurse allowed me to go home for the day. I got to spend the rest of the afternoon on the couch, watching TV. The Three Stooges were on, endlessly bashing each other’s skulls with hammers and twisting noses with pliers.

“Go for his nuts, Larry!” I yelled at the TV, just before falling asleep.


Patricia Leidy said...

My lawdy, you crack me up!

Pinkhamster said...

Instead of losing your cherry, you gained one.