I fell really hard for a girl while at Petaluma Jr. High. She arrived like an angel into one of my 7th grade classes where she effortlessly distracted me from Mr. Ashberry’s math lessons. This was well before I had completed the “Communications with Alien Species” course, and thus managed not to actually talk to her that whole school year. I spent much of my 8th grade time hating myself for this because she moved away and with her went my big chance at an amazing junior high romance. Now, she was gone forever (heavy sigh.…).
But, it turned out that the god of young boys is concerned about more than just keeping us alive through high speed box sliding and close encounters with homicidal buckeyes and decided to stir up my first week of 9th grade by (YES!) bringing her back. So, I was a mess for that whole first week of the new scholastic year, when I was sure that some girl I kept partial glances of when coming out of Mrs. Smart’s English class sure looked a lot like my secret love from 2 years ago.
So, with my anxiety gauge registering something just over 110% and my big-boy courage turned up as high as it would go, I determined to find out for sure if it was really her. I quickly walked past the apparition and some friends who surrounded her – then spun like I’d forgotten something to get a full frontal view of her– and there was no mistaking that face – it was her– a much more mature her – oh man! Now; I knew I had to find the courage to somehow not repeat my 7th grade mistake. I had to meet her.
I completely defocused on my next class and began to assemble a great master plan with each step carefully thought through. I don’t recall how long it took to decide on and finalize the plan, but living in the twilight zone of knowing she was here again – after a full year of me with wimping-out, it could not have been very long. Now decided, I was dying to get going. Reviewing all my how-to-project-a-fun-personality notes first, I steeled myself for the great gamble with my emotional well-being and took the seriously courageous step of – asking a girl-friend to arrange an introduction. . .
Hey – I was only in 9th grade and never actually took that class in alien communications.
Anyway, laugh if you like, but we were introduced and thus started a great first romance. She was fun, cute, quite the smart-aleck, and was the daughter of a local pastor – so I began the process of learning how to treat a lady by hanging around one. Despite her best efforts at turning me into a civilized young man – I managed to make plenty of mistakes but one day, I think I got it right.
I loved spending time with her and frequently regretted not meeting her in 7th grade so we could have had all that time together. After school the two of us were together and with where ever the gang was going. The best place was downtown Petaluma at the corner of Washington and Kentucky was ings Diner who made the best milkshakes in town. I know this was true because I was in the 9th grade now and new such things.
Some days she had to go straight home but she lived close enough to the campus for me to walk her home and I loved doing this. We enjoyed each other’s company and got on fine, we were surrounded by good friends, but one particular day – – I had to deal with an idiot.
While walking her home, a young shmuck decided to come up behind us and taunt her with crude, insulting and even threatening comments. I shouldn’t really call him a bully, because he clearly wasn’t even that smart. I was right there with her. I was over a foot taller and easily out weighed his puny 90 some-odd pounds. Looking back, I think the twerp was actually trying to commit suicide by boyfriend.
We tried to ignore him at first, but he was having none of that and only increased the tempo – yelling things I won’t repeat here. I took her by the hand and walked us faster, all the while sensing her fear and tension. I’ve never been a fighter, but my male damsel-in-distress gene was ready to burst my insides.
He clearly wanted to scare her, but this tactic was giving me time to figure out how this might play out so I laid down what I hoped was a decent plan. I was a bit worried that he might get violent. If I waited long enough, would he finally go away or try to strike her? If he hit me, it couldn’t be too big a deal, but there was no way I was going to give him the chance to hit her. Then, could I actually hit and disable him? How could I best stay between her and him at all times? He was such a small jerk, I worried how to defend her and cream this moron without upsetting her or overly wounding him.
Suddenly, he accidentally gave me an unexpected chance to settle things quickly. His afternoon shadow appeared at our feet so I could see almost exactly where he was even though he was behind us. On the other hand, he was now too close and I knew I it was time to put a stop to his threats.
With the loud-mouth owner of that shadow within reach. I dropped her hand, spun and grabbed him by the shirt front and lifted him off his feet and swung him over to where a car was parked beside the sidewalk and drug him over the hood, windshield, roof and trunk – trying to drag him across anything that looked like it would carve out a chunk of skin. He howled or screamed every time he bumped over some piece of trim and yelling something about how his older brother was going to find and beat me to a pulp for doing this to him.
When I ran out of car, I dangled him above the curb and pointed out to him that his brother was not here and I was. His eyes were huge and his expression changed, perhaps he finally realized what a stupid idea this had been.
Then, considering it to be the lesser of two options, I threw him into a large batch of juniper bushes that were right there in someone’s front yard. He yelped miserably as he landed – I think with good cause because, well, if you’ve ever had too close an encounter with a juniper patch – you know how much pain he was suddenly in. Still, I maintain that it was a better idea than the alternative of throwing him out into traffic, which I had considered and rejected, because my girlfriend was still right there hoping this would all pass quickly with no one hurt.
We continued to her home, quietly, with both her arms wrapped around my victorious, strong left arm (because my mom taught me about staying between the girl and traffic when walking down the street together – thanks Mom) and I found this stage of the encounter not at all unpleasant.
I never saw this purse-pet bully again (and I was on the alert for any sighting for the rest of the school year) nor did I encounter anyone who claimed to be his brother (but think about this, would you claim blood relationship with such a head case. . .?) so I’m at peace with the thought that by now, natural selection has most likely taken him out of the gene pool by some other means.
The whole event did give me something to think about for many weeks. I had never treated anyone like that before (wait – do sisters count?) and can only think of two other times that I had to raise my hands in defense of myself or someone else.
I had no real desire to hurt him but there was never a question that this punk was going to stand down or I would forcefully stop him. The only real question was whether I could bulls-eye him into the center of that juniper patch. Okay, there arguably might be one more question – whether he ever got out of that juniper patch. Surely he did and went home to lick his wounds, but (ick!) what if he’s still in there…?
Anyway, this gal and I remained close until, ugh, she moved again. Nuts! Que the happily ever after shot anyway. Ah, here it is.