It’s hard to imagine a person like me engaging in fisticuffs during my youth. I was a book worm. I was shy and quiet.
Then again, everybody has heard variations of the following saying, “Beware the quiet people - they are the most dangerous.”
Believe me; I didn’t plan for the fight. I didn’t want to fight. But sometimes people force you into it, and you have to give them hell for thinking such a stupid thing.
Before I get into this story, I want to give mad props to Chris Mauger over at “Maurgeritaville.” He gave me the story idea from a recent post. Make sure you take the time to go visit him.
Okay, let me get this party started! The fight happened during . . . you know what I’m going to say. I’ve done enough posts lately for you to know the current time line. Yes, elementary school. Or, rather, the incident in question happened on the bus ride.
The bus ride in itself was horrible/terrible/a-chariot-ride-into-the-fiery-pits-of-oblivion. No, really, it was bad. Since this was a small school, the district contracted for fewer buses. Then they shoved the students in “three-kids deep” into the seats and shipped us home. The normal time it would take to go from the school to my parents’ house was about ten minutes. It took an hour and a half because the bus drove out to the farthest point of its route and then headed back. So I was the eighth kid to the last to disembark.
Worse, for some reason there was always one kid who didn’t empty his bladder before getting on the bus. So the bus driver would stop at the closest house of a different student, escort the child-in-need up to the door, and ask the parent’s permission to use their bathroom. Then the driver and relieved student would climb back on the bus so we could continue on our way.
I had thoughts of hijacking that bus and taking it to the nearest pizza parlor.
Ahem. Anyway, the fight in question was between me and this other girl. It dealt with these:
My pigtails. My hair was a wild, thick, bunchy mess. So my mother braided it often despite my protests. I had no problem with wearing braids, but the kids on the bus would tug on them constantly. Or rather, two kids in particular would do this. One was a girl named “Gina” (some of you may remember her from this post) who sat behind me on the bus with another kid named Todd.
We had assigned seating on the bus (don’t ask me why - maybe the bus drivers were married to the lunch ladies). With two other kids sharing the seat, I had the fortune of an aisle view. Behind me, Gina had the aisle seat with Todd in the middle. Every day, Gina would tug on the right braid and Todd would bend over the seat back to tug on the left one. It didn’t matter if I stuck my hood up over my head. They would reach around and slip fingers into the fabric.
Tug - tug - tug - tug . . . can you imagine dealing with this for half the school year? 120 days of someone tugging on your hair and no matter whom you told (the bus driver, your parents, the principal), they would all tell you the same thing:
Ignore the instigators and they will stop.
It didn’t happen. For some reason the adults never got it into their heads that if you don’t discipline the instigators then it makes the kids bolder in continuing this bad behavior. The tuggers had their fun, and I went home with a sore scalp, headaches, and in tears.
Then I snapped.
The breaking point was coming. It was building day by day with me yelling at them to stop while they just snickered about it.
I jumped from the seat just as Gina was leaning back. I gave her a shove. The sixth-graders saw what was happening with the younger kids and they rushed forward. They brought me and Gina to the last seats at the back of the bus. The older kids played mediators.
Sixth-grader: “What’s going on?”
Me: “Gina keeps tugging my hair!”
Gina: “It wasn’t me. It was Todd!”
Gina shoved at me to get even with my earlier push. I got even angrier.
Me: “It wasn’t Todd. You sit at the end of the seat. You put your arm around and tugged at my braid.”
Todd would have had to sit in her lap and maneuver his arm into the bus aisle to yank my right braid. He hadn’t moved in his seat when I twirled around. Gina had. My arms shoved her again.
Sixth-grader: “Just stop it. If the bus driver sees you fighting, you’ll get in trouble.”
Gina shoved me. I shoved Gina. She shoved back. Our hands grabbed each other’s clothes. Both of us went down.
Slam! We rolled on the seat, Gina on the bottom and me on top. We didn’t throw any punches. Instead, we had ourselves a good ol’ fashion wrastlin’ match. We shoved and tugged and tried to put sleeper holds on the other person.
Gina had the advantage. I was a stick of a person with weak arms. She had more meat to her bones and bigger muscles. I knew I was losing when she knocked my eyeglasses off. I had to do something to gain the advantage. So my head bent down and I turned vampire.
Yes. I bit Gina - in the chest area.
Of course we were both young, so it was not as if either of us were “endowed." But my teeth caught enough skin under clothes for her to yelp in pain. The sixth-graders pulled me off. The bus driver finally took notice.
“Hey! What’s going on back there?”
“Nothing!” The sixth-graders yelled. They shoved me and Gina close to the floor so he wouldn’t catch sight of us out of our seats.
“If you kids are fighting, I’ll throw you off the bus,” he threatened. When no one answered, or turned snitch, he returned to driving the bus.
The older kids allowed us off the floor. Gina had a nice bruise forming on her chest. I had my eyeglasses broken. There was no way either of us could hide these things from our parents when we got home. Gina’s bus stop was right before mine (we were neighbors - oh, the irony). So the phone was already ringing when I stepped into the house. My mother glowered at me as I showed her my broken eyeglasses. Then Gina and her mother appeared at the door.
In front of them all, I apologized for the fight. Gina accepted my apology. She and her mother walked home, without any apology for instigating the whole mess. For the next several months, I dealt with my parents’ scowls because they had to buy me a new pair of glasses. Yet I held my head up high in pride.
The braid tugging stopped.