Sunday, December 22, 2013


     High school. It is Friday, and nobody really gives a shit about anything. TJ and I are on the baseball team together.
     TJ is my friend. As I follow him in to Ms. Howard’s class at the bell, he figures it’s a good idea to punch me in the sack with a closed fist. No one really notices or cares, but TJ thinks it’s a hoot. Son of a bitch.
Ms. Howard has enough trouble holding my attention teaching whatever it is she teaches, and now with a nagging scrote-ache and vengeance roiling in my soul, I have 49 minutes to scheme…
Tommy is also on the team, and he is my friend. The last time he smacked me in the goods was well over a month ago. It was a typical backhand, which is permissible in a Stockholm Syndrome kind of way.
So since then, I have forgiven Tommy, after of course executing a mild tit-for-tat. Now we’re all square, Tommy and me. As a fellow victim of TJ’s ball bullying in the past, he’s even willing to conspire with me. Chris saw TJ’s sneak-attack, too, and claims he’s onboard even though he has never been hit in the nuts by TJ. …Deep down, I think Chris is a sadist. But today he will take a lesson from my playbook.
In our school newspaper class, gaily titled, Chit-Chat, our three-man coalition feign field reporting to Ms. Draut and excuse ourselves to find TJ upstairs in Mr. Thorne’s class. Chris knocks politely. I crouch behind the end locker in the hall while my bros in arms smile through the wire-mesh glass part of the door at TJ, beckoning him out. Mr. Thorne answers.
“May TJ be excused for a moment, sir? I want to interview him about Thursday’s game.” Of course he can, says Mr. Thorne. The old boob.
TJ saunters to the doorway grinning. A proud jock summoned among the commoners.
He’s not even through the threshold when I make my move… My hand swooshes around the door, cupped with kung-fu ferocity, and I get a fleeting but deadly handful. There is a sweet smacking sound, like someone dropped wet bologna… TJ’s hips jut back; he buckles and grunts like a wild pig… His hair goes from perfectly combed to a sloppy mess… His chin hits the tiles first because his hands are busy clutching the kill zone. He bites his tongue and a satisfying glaze of sweat pops out on his reddening forehead.
“HaHAA-Haah! Didn’t expect that, did you!” I loom over him, seething.
Tommy and Chris cackle, celebratory-like, as if I’d just tattooed one out of the park. Then we run… Looking back, we see TJ writhing, groaning on the floor in a puddle of drool. Because it’s April of 1993, I inform TJ that, “You just got pimp-smacked!” Meaning I win.
But I know it’s not quite over. Minutes pass. TJ stumbles downstairs, knowing we’ll be back in the Chit-Chat press room. It’s about to become a situation room. Did Mr. Thorne bother to report the attack upstairs, encourage a counterstrike, or even show pity? No. (He told me later that TJ’s nutsack had it coming. Just out of general principle.)
Chris spots him in the corridor first and signals to me. There is a table near the entrance to the classroom with, inexplicably, an empty Styrofoam cooler on top of it. I mount the table and pick up the cooler. TJ staggers to the doorway, glassy-eyed with blood in the corner of his mouth, looking like he was picked up and set down by a tornado.
When his blonde, prematurely thinning hair pokes through the doorframe, I jump off the table and break the cooler over his head like Macho Man Randy Savage coming off the top rope with a match-ending chair shot. …Pieces of white foam explode on TJ’s head and rain down in slow-mo. The class roars. Tommy’s mouth gapes and he drops to his knees. A paroxysm of laughter. Even TJ has to laugh. This is proverbial insult to injury and I win again, at least until next week…

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