Sticking with the theme of violent aggression I want to tell a couple of stories.
The Kickball Incident
When I was a kid my brothers and I would hold a lot of kickball games at our house. We had a big back yard, but for some reason we played kick ball in our front yard. I guess because that way we could kick the ball down the street instead of over fences. I normally would have preferred baseball, but it took more athleticism of which many in my neighborhood had little.
So, one day some people were in my front yard playing kickball. At least I assume that there were other peole there. For some reason I only remember this guy Nick from down the street and no one else being there. I don't know why it would just be the two of us unless we weren't playing kickball, like I think. Anyway, somehow Nicka and I get into an arguement. As you could imagine the fight resorted to name calling and onward to insulting my mom. I never really cared that much about stuff like that but I guess I was being particularly sensative this day. And he wasn't just saying things like "Your momma is so..." to be funny, he was actually being offensive. After telling him to stop a number of times and advancing on him threatening his safety he would not stop the taunting and so I hit him in the face. At this he fell to the ground and started crying. I immediately felt horrible. I had never hurt anyone so deliberatly before and suddenly I felt like I had just entered into a new stage in life where I was to be held responsible for my stregth and use of force. I felt a huge sense of power and knew right away that one could either abuse or control this power. I decided that I had done the wrong thing. On top of this I had been told all my life not to hid a guy with glasses and this guy had glasses. I helped him up and handed him his glasses. I reminded him that he had been warned but I appologized. I wasn't exactly the fighting type. Nick went home and I don't remember ever hanging out with him again. That is the only time I've ever hit a guy in the face.
The Football Incident
It's no wonder to me that both of these stories take place surrounding sports competitions. Not only can competition arouse anger and selfishness, it is physical and it is naturally penciant upon solving problems physically.
This story takes place when I was in 7th grade. I played football for my Jr. High and was on the B team. This means that I wasn't as good as the kids on the A team, but I was a starter for our team, so I wasn't horrible, either. That was the story of my sports career. Always quite middle of the road. While I wasn't a bad player and there were infact many good players on the team (we came in first place while the A team came in 4th) there was still an air of prestige associated with being on the A team. Being popular in jr. high was way too important and being on the A team was important to being popular. Those who were on the A team, even if they were the nicest guy in the world the year before, had a huge chip on their shoulder. They were inherently better and more important than the B. (The next year we switched to Orange and White with the idea that both teams were equal, but in practice the coaches cheated a little and it wasn't quite equal.)
When we practiced both teams wore plain white football jerseys and if you lost yours you had to wear a large white t-shirt. Not surprisingly I lost mine, but had no clue where it was. I was possitive that it had actually been stolen. My jersey had a tag on it that hung down from one corner and I was sure I would recognize it if I saw. Sure enough one day I noticed that Chris, who was on the A team was wearing a jersey with the tag hanging down in the corner. I'd known Chris since 4th grade where we were on the same Pee-Wee football team for two years in a row. I knew Chris had a major temper. In fact, later on he was convicted of murder, cutting short the high school football career of a very talented athelete.
I was never one to bow to pressure or be cowered by bigger kids. That's usually how I got into trouble, in fact. So I approached Chris, determined to get my jersey back. I first told him that I knew that he had my shirt and demanded it back. He denied taking my jersey and so I tried taking it. Chris was stronger than I even imagined him being. Before I knew it I had pushed him back to try and get the shirt and he decked me in jaw. I jumped back, stunned. Chris was bobbing up and down, fist up, in typical boxing stance.
"That's right, I hit you. Come on! You want some more?"
I couldn't believe he had hit me in the face. It was a really good hit, too. Solid, with perfect form and accuracy. I imagine that it looked like every round house punch that you see in the movies. Except I didn't fight back. I wasn't crying or yelling or anything. I just stood there and stared. I couldn't believe I'd just been hit! I asked him, "Why'd you hit me?"
"You pushed me, and I don't take that!" he told me.
That's right! I had pushed him. I didn't mean to push him, but I did. I don't remember if I said anything after that but I made a deliberate decision. I wouldn't try to continue this fight I turned my back on Chris. I was scared to death that he would pounce on me from behind and really beat me up, but I decided that I wanted to make sure he knew that I didn't respect him. When I reached the exit door, my old friend Joel was standing there picking up towels. I told him what happened and without any further prodding, I began to cry. Not out of pain, or even embarassment. I still am not quite sure why I cried but I want to think it was because of a realization that people were mean and I was going to have to deal with people just like this the rest of my life. At this point I was still quite sure that Chris had stolen my jersey. He may have even said something to the effect that even if it was my jersey I wasn't getting back. So far, I've been right. I know how to deal with people like this a little better now, but they're still around. Mean people. I remember seeing about 4 or 5 jerseys like the one I thought Chris had stolen from me over the next week and I felt like a jerk. I think I might have even tried to appologize to Chris. Who knows if Chris remembers this as he's sitting in his prison cell today.
I'm often curious about who might think of me and the good and bad experiences. Who did I hurt? Who is sorry they hurt me? Does anyone remember hurting me and are glad they did it? Or, who did I hurt in my life and thinks of me and what they would say to me if they had the chance?