December 18th, 2007

Lj Idol: Fighting For Friendship?

Many of us have experienced this in some fashion: a bully comes over to our table and starts to demand that we give him our lunch, money, or other item of value. These individuals often like to pick on either the smallest, most different looking or shyest kid in the classroom. Unfortunately, I fit into all three categories.

So, this little Mexican boy with a very limited command of the English language is picked to aid me through the lunch line. I always had to be partnered with another classmate who would read me the lunch time selections and walk me over to the appropriate table at which I was to sit.

"I'm gonna punch you in your arm till you beat me up," he said. Thinking nothing of it, I just shrugged it off and stood patiently in line.

The first blow hurt the most, because it was unexpected. "Hey," I said "you better stop!" Once we got to the sitting area with our plates, he continued to pound me in the arm until everything had gone numb. Knowing that if I retaliated at that moment the consequences would be dire, I continued to hold my fire. "Wait till we get in the boy's bathroom," I murmured through clenched teeth.

As usual, all the boys then proceeded to line up outside of our little three stall bathroom. Actually, they weren't even stalls, but rather holes in the floor on a big, open cement step. I stood holding his arm and remaining absolutely calm until we passed through the door and into the little room. Then, I grabbed hold of him and slammed him against the sink with enough force to break his glasses. It took four teachers nearly 3 minutes to pry us apart. I was dead set on showing that kid not to mess with me again.

No disciplinary action was taken against me, as many of the other students at that table told the adults that he had indeed provoked me. He ended up being suspended for four days.

The ironic thing here, and the part of the story that makes it appropriate, is that we were very close friends from then on. He insisted on being my helper, and over those many lunches, we shared information on our cultures and taught each other a little of our respective languages. In fact, it was through my interactions with him that I developed an interest in learning Spanish, and a greater knowledge of the world outside of my normal surroundings.

He turned out to be a pretty cool guy. I think his reasoning for doing what he did at first was a lack of confidence, and an inability to find a place to fit in. I can't say how he concluded that I would be a good friend, but it ended up being a very beneficial relationship for us both.