It's okay to be a scrawny kid. Millions of kids have survived and indeed flourished later in life despite the difficulties being a weakling can cause. The key to making it through this difficult time is knowing when to shut up. When just about everybody (both sexes included) could easily whoop your ass, you should instinctively know that it isn't in your best interest to be an asshole. To point, you don't see a rabbit sassing a wolf - it would be idiotic and suicidal. Being a human, however, gives you the power to overcome these natural instincts and do the exact opposite of what all logic dictates. It is an amazing gift that separates humans from other animals. It can also be a horrific curse in the hands of a scrawny kid with a big mouth.
As a kid, my diminutive size was in direct opposite proportion to the size of my mouth. I would push, nitpick, tease and aggravate until the only possible course of action for the object of my annoyance was to pummel me. Rarely did anyone get that pleasure, however, as I had a knack for knowing the right moment to flee to the safety of my house, a teacher or other safe zone. One memorable instance, however, I was caught. Two neighborhood kids - who in reality were probably my size, but my memory paints them as giants - had me trapped. I don't recall if it was a specific transgression that caused them to seek retribution on me or just a culmination of several years of being a chronic asshole, but these two were mad. They ambushed me, catching me alone in the backyard, undoubtedly throwing my Nerf football in the air repeatedly as I had an OCD tendency to do as a youngster. I was screwed. After realizing that apologizing profusely and begging for mercy weren't going to help, I whimpered helplessly and prepared for my beat down. Before the first punch was thrown, however, a miracle occurred. My brother, whose presence I was unaware of, stepped out of the house and inserted himself into the melee.
Now, the tables were turned. It was a fair fight and these two bullies were about to feel the wrath of the Krusey Brothers! As my brother approached, the kid holding me back released his grip on me to prepare for whatever my brother may have had in store. Realizing my opportunity, I reacted with adrenaline fueled speed and precision. I jerked my arms away from my captor and ran like a bat out of hell into the house, locking the door behind me. Cherishing my good fortune, I made it to my bedroom window just in time to peek under the blinds and watch my brother take the beating that was rightfully mine.
The next day, to thank my brother, I repeatedly threw the aforementioned Nerf football at him while he mowed the lawn. After finally reaching his boiling point, he calmly looked directly at me, tilted the mower back on two wheels and placed it down on my beloved football, sending a confetti shower of foam over me as I sobbed uncontrollably at the raw injustice of it all.
This has been Profiles in Courage. Join us next time for the story of the time I hid in my basement closet for six hours after throwing a rock at a car.
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