I was a difficult adolescent

I used to have a joke I would tell whenever I was in a conversation with someone about our childhoods.

“Pick a number from 1 to 12, and I’ll tell you about the fight I got into that year in school.”

If you are a reader of this blog and you studied psychology in any meaningful context, you may have surmised at one point or another that perhaps I was bullied, had a rough childhood home, or that I possibly suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder.

You would be correct about all of those things.

Some of these stories are funny, but some involve a lot of introspection into myself and how I grew up. If you’re not into that, or if child abuse is a trigger for you, feel free to skip this and just read the more wholesome “SOWIWAK” sister post to this one.

If you detect hints of resentment and lingering bitterness in these stories, you would be correct again.

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1st Grade:

I punched a kid in the face. I think he made fun of me for something, but who knows what it was. It could have been very minor; I was an NPD/ASPD child-in-waiting with no self-control over my emotions, and no experience in maturely handling narcissistic injury.

My 1st-grade teacher HATED me. She actually wanted to hold me back one year and send me to “Junior 1st Grade” which was some program for stupid kids. But for behavioral reasons, not academic.

For example, one time I ripped up my math test into tiny pieces. I guess I didn’t want to do this one. The teacher saved all the pieces, bunched them in a small stack, and stapled the pieces to a new blank test, to show my mother what I had done.

The thing is that when I actually DID my homework, it was pretty clear I was a genius. (At least, that’s the way I remember this story being told to me.) So my mom shut that “Junior 1st” shit down quick.

About 11 years later I was writing articles for the school paper, including my favorite piece of writing I’ve ever shat out: my searing critique of the authoritarian lunch program officials in our high school. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be approved, but it went through.

{LINK WHEN AVAILABLE}

I worked the occasional lunch hour at our family’s fast food joint (our Taco Tuesdays would get pretty busy), and one time my old 1st-grade teacher showed up. I don’t remember all my past teachers, but I certainly remembered her. And she OF COURSE recognized me.

We had a very civil conversation though! She was proud of my article I wrote and the person I had become. I guess she isn’t really as authoritarian as I remember — I was just a hellion little piece of shit as a child. Kind of understandable that she had a hard time with me.

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2nd Grade:

Again, when I actually did my homework and wasn’t bored or in the principal’s office for one reason or another, I got very good grades. Not that the American education system is all that spectacular in the first place, but whatever.

For context in this bit, our school had those chair/desk combination seats:

classroom-1910012_640

I got in trouble for something I don’t remember, and when told to get up and go to the principal’s office, I stood up ON my chair, stepped up onto the front of the desk, and then leaped onto the floor. Just to make a huge scene I guess.

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3rd Grade:

I don’t think there actually was one for this grade. My teacher was really nice, and a genuinely warm person. And I didn’t act up at all.

It’s almost like every other teacher that used punishment as a form of control was simply modeling after the mistreatment I was receiving in my home life, and thus I wasn’t responsive to it. Throw in even a modicum of unconditional love and I turn into a better person. Who knew!

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4th Grade:

Waiting for the bus after school was boring, so I was playing with a bouncy ball. You know, one of those little plastic things the size and cost of a quarter.

The ball accidentally fell under one of the other buses (I was waiting for a later school bus) and one of the faculty who saw this absolutely lost her fucking mind when I reached down to pick it up when it rolled to the curb.

It’s not like I climbed under the bus to get it. It rolled back to the side of the street, because all our roads were built with slight elevation differences due to flooding. I just reached down at the curb and picked it up, where it was sitting about a foot away from where the bus wheels were.

Somehow my actual 4th-grade teacher got involved in the ensuing debacle; I guess he was nearby and saw the commotion.

He also started to lose his mind, and I guess at this point I had decided I’d had enough. So I calmly walked away.

Seriously. I just turned around and started walking away. Not running. Walking. Calmly. I even looked both ways when I crossed the street while peacefully strolling away from them.

Calm in the face of adults yelling at you? That’s either a sign of a sociopath, or someone living in a very explosive household with a lot of yelling. In my case, it’s both.

The teacher ran across the street and GRABBED me by the shirt, or ear, or something, and dragged me all the way back into his classroom. Something he could probably get fired for, as I had actually left school grounds for at that point, but it’s not like I knew my rights or whatever as a nine-year-old.

This teacher held a distinctly visible grudge against me from then on. A few days later, he told a joke or did something funny, and I laughed along with the rest of the class. He pointed to me in front of everyone and said, “I don’t want to SEE YOU smiling.”

He got promoted or however grade school teaching works, and ended up being one of my future teachers while I was in 8th grade. I could tell he still didn’t like me and hadn’t gotten over something a child did FOUR YEARS AGO.

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4th or 5th Grade:

I don’t remember if this was the same year or the next, so I guess two in one year makes up for not having a 3rd-grade story.

This one is a bit weird, in more than one way.

It was a recess during winter, and I was playing on this patch of ice. Probably eight feet long or so, and maybe 3-4 feet wide. I was just skating around in my snow boots, sliding back and forth. Absolutely minding my own business.

I saw another kid, David Somethingorother, out of the corner of my eye. He was standing maybe 10 yards from me and had this weird expression pointed at me. Like contempt, with a bit of curiosity. I knew that if I continued to slide around on this ice, he was going to do something violent to me.

So I kept playing on the ice. Partially because I bow to no man, but also because I think I was just curious to see what would happen. See if I was right or not. Be a victim of obvious violence and see how I could play that in my favor.

About 10-15 more seconds of sliding around, and I felt something solid crash into my skull. He had picked up a giant ice chunk and had thrown it at the back of my head.

One of the recess officials saw what happened, or at least they saw me crash onto the ground, saw Douchebag standing near me looking creepy, and added up the math.

My next clear memory is me in my still-empty classroom with an ice pack for my head. This could be some memory loss from a mild concussion, but I doubt it. I’ve always had a poor memory, even before I started binge drinking as a hobby.

My next move? I guess I decided to spend the political capital I had just intentionally built up by allowing myself to be a victim of violence… to conduct my own!

I wrote on a piece of paper:

“I went outside to get my REVENGE

With the word ‘revenge’ in all capital cursive letters, for effect or something. Cringey and quite /r/iamverybadass but whatever. I was a kid; cut me some slack.

I grabbed my gym shoes out of my locker, went outside, found him (he was still outside freely roaming around I guess?), hit him over the back of his head with the shoes I was carrying, and proceeded to beat his ass.

My next memory is of BOTH of us in some sort of disciplinary “time-out” empty classroom, with a couple teachers talking to us and sorting out what the hell was going on.

One part I still laugh about is that I was let go after like two minutes because I just straight up admitted everything and told the truth about exactly what happened. He spent the rest of the morning there because he refused to confess anything.

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5th Grade:

A kid in my class would relentlessly make fun of me every day for some reason. I was a weird kid, so there was plenty to choose from, but he was still a shithead for doing it.

One day he said something and turned around to laugh with his cronies about it. (This is the age where kids started to get mean AND cliquey.)

I guess I was done with his bullshit, because I punched him in the back of the head, and his face kinda hit the desk in front of him.

He got some kind of minor slap on the wrist when the school found out this happened because he was consistently bullying me, but I got in A LOT of trouble. It wouldn’t have been too big of a deal except for the fact that while talking to the school counselor, I let this little gem slip while she was asking me about my feelings or whatever:

Me “I feel like if I didn’t know better, I would want to bring a gun to school and shoot him.”

If you think that would be a big deal in a public school today, consider this: While writing this story, I did the math on when this incident took place. It turns out I was in 5th grade in 1999.

Remember what else happened in 1999?

COLUMBINE.

I’m lucky they didn’t just expel me from school altogether, or send me to juvie for the next decade, Do Not Pass Go. I got two days of in-school suspension, which just meant I did all my homework in the principal’s office and sat there all day.

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6th Grade:

I’ve got two half-stories for this one, neither of which are technically fights.

I didn’t like or listen to my 6th-grade teacher. This was the grade where we’d have a primary teacher for 70% of our classes, with a couple teachers doing some of the other courses. So we had Reading, English, and the other mindless subjects with our main teacher, but then Science, History, and Math with a different teacher who specialized in that topic. As if you need a fucking Ph.D. to understand mathematics enough to teach an 11-year-old child.

My primary teacher was a prick who obviously hated and/or resented children. I would often daydream during class, probably imagining a world with no possessions or something, and miss something he said.

So one day he scheduled me for a hearing exam. He knew it was because I wasn’t paying attention, not my physical ability to hear things. He was just being a dickhead.

Another 6th grade bit was when a friend and I were walking home from school. Unsurprisingly, the friend group I fit into in middle school and high school was all the OTHER nerdy potential-budding-sociopaths who got made fun of. Sometimes we would take our aggression out on each other.

My friend and I were arguing about something, and I walked away from him. This didn’t sit well with him I guess, so my friend picked up a random golf ball he’d just found and threw it as hard as he could at the back of my head.

Side Note: What is it with the backs of people’s heads in these stories???

Wanting him to continue to feel unsatisfied, I ignored the pain entirely and just kept walking away. Can’t let him win!

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7th Grade:

This one was pretty bad.

All us 7th graders had gym class (PE, physical education, phys-ed) with the 8th graders. To save space or time or something.

This one 8th grader was a prick to everyone, but from what I remember, I had it the worst.

I was an easy target not only because I was a weirdo, but also because I didn’t deal with my anger properly or react maturely. I mean, I was 12 years old, but still.

Instead, I would just hold everything in. I’d get visibly upset or angry, but I’d never actually do anything about it. The perfect target for someone a bully. He gets the satisfaction of messing with me and seeing my reaction, but no real consequences. Because the teachers are sure as hell never going to do anything about it.

Everyone knows what’s eventually in store though. You can’t bottle that shit inside forever. It’s going to explode someday.

Jackass Bully was doing his thing one day while we were all in the locker room, changing back into our regular clothes because gym class was over. He was making fun of me for something… I don’t remember what it was, so it likely wasn’t some kind of extreme hazing or anything, just his usual bullshit.

I snapped, jumped up on a bench, struck him over the head with my fist, knocked him to the ground, and I beat the fuck out of him.

The reason I didn’t get in trouble for this one is because when my mother was called away from work to the school, she laid into the school officials about how this is very clearly a case of extreme bullying, how they’re pieces of shit for not intervening when a child is getting obviously harrassed every single day, and how the kid I beat up basically had it coming.

She drove me home from school and told me:

(I’m paraphrasing, but from what I remember this is almost verbatim.)

Mom “I can’t control how the principal punishes you or anything at school. But in situations like this, you will not be punished at home. I am not going to say that I condone violence, but sometimes as a last resort… Adam, you did the right thing.”

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8th Grade:

Here’s another weird one.

A guy in my class bumped into me, and it kinda knocked me into the lockers. He laughed with his friends about it instead of apologizing or anything.

So I got up, stalked him for about 5-8 seconds to wait for an opportunity, and when I saw an opening in the crowd of people around him (they were all walking away from me, so they didn’t see some creepy kid following them), I shoved him as hard as he can into some open lockers, knocking him to the floor.

That was the end of it, but because this happened in the morning, the rest of the school had the whole rest of the day to hear about it. And antagonize us both.

I never saw or spoke to him at all the rest of the day, but the Mob Rule that exemplifies middle school convinced him to challenge me to a fight after school. And then through the grapevine, everyone heard he’d accepted, and then everyone was asking ME if I was going to take the challenge and fight him.

I eventually said yes, and the whole group of kids asking me about it got all excited.

The only reason I accepted though (I initially wanted no part of this because the whole concept was stupid) is because a friend of mine concocted a plan where I would deliberately not fight back so that only he would get in trouble. This guy had apparently been mean to my friend in the past, and he picked today to reign his holy vengeance.

Like I said, I was inadvertently friends with all the other troubled and bullied kids.

Everything that happened during and after the fight is boring to talk about, but basically it worked in that he was the only person who got in any serious trouble, not me.

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9th Grade:

I’m basically repeating myself at this point.

Guy who was in one of my main friend groups had this joke where he called me “Rimjob” every time he saw me.

“Hey Rimjob.”

“What’s up, Rimjob!”

“Rimjob rimjob rimjob!”

It was stupid, and I don’t even remember how it started. It’s not like I had actually (or have ever) licked someone’s asshole. It’s just a nickname he gave me and hounded it in every time the four of us friends were chatting.

Yeah “friends” I know. Whatever. When you’re at the bottom of the food chain, you kinda take what you can get.

I’d had enough of it after several months, so I told him to stop. He responded by calling me Rimjob.

I told him if he called me that again, I was going to punch him in the face. He responded by calling me Rimjob.

Well, threats are no deterrence if you don’t back them up, so I calmly got up out of my seat, walked around the table over to him — he hadn’t really moved, because he wanted to look tough by assuming I was bluffing — and I punched him in the face.

Unsurprisingly, the whole school heard about it. One of the “popular” kids told me I was a badass because I’d done it while we were all in the school library.

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10th Grade:

Almost a repeat of the previous story, but with a different “friend.” He made fun of me and did stupid shit to me for the whole year.

None of this was ever in good fun, in the joking-around kind of way that is common with men. Guys make fun of each other all the time, as long as everyone is in on the joke. Well I clearly wasn’t. This was a person who got bullied, and bullied others (me) in response.

Then one day he stole my Outkast CD out of my backpack. It was Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It’s not as if the CD was some prized possession of mine. I mean, it’s a great album, but it was just the last straw before I decided I was done.

He refused to give it back, and a few hours later we were in the same study hall (free class) together. The teacher was out jerking off or whatever, so we were all unsupervised and causing Breakfast Club mayhem.

Me “Give it back to me.”

He wouldn’t. So, I tried a different approach.

We were both standing by the door, and I said some version of this:

Me “Come on, please… just give it back. No hard feelings, it’s all good. I go home after the next period, and I just want it back. Please?”

Totally calm voice.

He gave it back to me.

I took the CD in my hand, and then I punched him in the face. Hard.

He twisted around and fell on the floor. Not only did he start crying, but I later heard that his eye was bleeding or something. He had a huge black eye for the next 2-3 weeks.

I received out-of-school suspension, which is a fucking joke. I wish this was an option during all my other fights! For two days, I wasn’t allowed to go to school.

I rode my bike around town, watched TV, basically just did whatever the fuck I wanted for two days. Even at the time, I recognized how ridiculous and hilarious it was that this was my ‘punishment.’

As promised, my parents didn’t punish me for standing up for myself.

— — — — — — — — — —

11th and 12th Grade:

No fights, for two reasons:

(1) Most of all my other incidents went around the schoolyard rumor mill pretty readily, since we were a small town and a class of only about 120 kids. But that last story REALLY got around. With one punch I knocked a kid out, made him bleed and cry, and he had a comically substantial black eye that covered half of the left side of his face. Nobody ever fucked with me ever again after that point.

(2) I had gotten involved in cult-like fundamentalist religion at this point, and so I had transformed my aggression into a narcissistic God-complex where I got to feel Holier-Than-Thou to everyone around me. I could write endlessly about how messed up it all was, and how it’s a direct reaction to not fitting in, but none of that belongs here on this blog. My therapist already gets benjis to listen to all that boring shit.

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Honorable Mention:

Not really a “fight”, but it goes along with the fucked-up-childhood theme, and I wanted to talk about it. I’m not gonna go into it too much because I don’t want to open up any opportunities for libel (even though there are court records), but let’s just say that a prominent father figure in my life was extremely physically abusive and tormentative toward a prominent motherly figure in my life.

Luckily this stopped in a very life-changing way when I was 10, right around that adolescent time where your morals are being constructed, and the beginnings of adult thoughts are forming.

But when I was 8, and this was all going on (4th grade), there was a girl that I really liked in school. We were friends and hung out after school a few times.

And I distinctly remember bossing her around constantly, pulling her hair, and generally being a controlling prick to her. I guess that’s how I was taught to treat the women in my life.

Who knows what she was going through in her own home that she took all that shit as acceptable behavior, but she and her parent(s) did end up moving away the next year.

I’ve since tried several times to locate her through Facebook and other places (I still remember her name) to apologize to her and maybe spark up a renewed childhood friendship now that I’m not a horrible human being anymore, but I can’t find her.

Didn’t expect that this post would end on such a sad note, did you? I warned you this would include a lot of introspection.