Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Bigger They are, the Harder They Fall....

I was chatting with my son tonight and we were discussing my grandson's confidence with meeting new challenges. Brad told me about some advice that my nephew Scott gave to Max once when Max was only 5 years old. He told him how to handle bullies. He said to walk right up to them and take the first chance to throw the first punch and aim for their nose! Well, last year Max did just that. There was a kid that was a couple of years older than Max and a full head taller, on his school bus and this kid just wouldn't let up with teasing Max about some silly thing. Well, Max had had enough and walked up to the kid and popped him one right in the nose and the kid started crying and holding his bloody nose. Max got reprimanded and Max and Brad had to go to the kid's house and make a formal apology to the bully and his parents. After, Brad received a nasty email from the mother and naturally she turned everything around making Max the 8 year old, skinny bully. That was pretty much the end of it for everyone concerned.

Now I told you all of that, so I could tell you all of this. I was born on the West side of Chicago in a less than affluent area and until age 9, I went to a school called Marshal Grammar School and it was attached to the notorious Marshal High School, that was renowned for many years due their basketball team. It went to Nationals for many years. One of the reasons that they were so successful in basketball was due to most of the players were African-American and extremely tall........... and Tough! So being raised in that environment until age 9, I was pretty used to brawling when necessary. I remember one time walking across the school yard and a kid came up behind me and shot me in the back of the head with a bobby pin, shot with a slingshot from a distance of about 2 inches. I knew if I showed any emotion whatsoever or even let a tear drip down my cheek, the whole group would jump me. So I sucked it up and continued walking like I didn't feel a thing. When I got out of danger, I let the tears flow, man that hurt!

When my family moved to the suburb of Skokie, a primarily Jewish town on the North side of the city, I enrolled in school and everyone was nice and clean and polite. No gangs of ruffians or home made slingshots. Somehow, because of my background, I became one of the toughest kids in my class. All I had to do was beat up Dickie Youngstrom and Tommy Anderson to take that position as head Honcho! Everyone wanted to fight the new kid to create the pecking order.

Along came Neal Nettler..............the bully! Neal lived in my neighborhood and was not too good at sports. Although he was a big kid and about 2 years older than me, he was always picked last when we chose up for teams. How you would "Choose up" was to flip a coin and then take turns for each team captain to pick sides, or team members. Poor Neal was always last. Suddenly it was the first day of school for 5th grade and my first day at the new school I was to attend. All the kids were strangers to each other, as this School went from 5th grade to eighth. We had all come from different schools that went up to 4th. I knew a few kids from my neighborhood that were older than me and was playing with them before school starting that first morning. One of them was the bully, Neal Nettler. Neal was about a head taller than me and his mom made him get his hair cut in a crew cut. He also had one of those noses like Miss Piggie, kind of spread out across his face. Neal came over and feeling less than secure about himself, decided to start picking on me and pretty soon he was pushing me. I don't remember how it happened and it certainly wasn't premeditated, but somehow I got in a lucky punch and caught the fat slob right smack in the middle of that big nose!

Let the blood flow! Just then the school bell rang and we all rushed into the school, looking for where we were all supposed to be. Except Neal Nettler, he was rushed to the school nurse with a bloody nose! You know, he never bothered me again.

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