Friday, May 1, 2020

That Time I Fought A Bully In Grade School...

An accurate depiction of how it must've looked like to onlookers

This is a story from nearly three decades ago...

Growing up in an upper-middle class family, we could almost be considered rich in the Philippine context. My father was already a pretty well-established lawyer by the time I was born, so according to my sister, I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth... which might not have been much of an exaggeration. 

We were raised on tenderloin steaks, ox tongue, and sizzling blue marlin from the most expensive hotels here -- which at one, point, we had on an almost daily basis. We also had cable TV, Betamax, a Family Computer (NES for western audiences), a PC, Playstation, cellular phones and other modern luxuries from the western world before anyone else did.

Anyway, this isn't a post to brag about our affluence, nor to reminisce those days when we were kinda rich -- which I am not right now.

You see, my most vivid experiences from growing up were my colorful interactions with my classmates. I feel that we middle class kids are a bit underrepresented nowadays, so let me share some of these funny experiences with you.

I was a new transferee from another school when I was in Grade 3 (9 years old). Naturally, being the new kid, everyone wanted to scrutinize you and of course, there will be a little bit of harassment and some bullying -- especially if you are as socially awkward as I was (as I still am in some ways). 

So here's the scenario: It was recess time and I was enjoying a cannister of Pik-Nik, when one of the bullies from my class, a kinda fat, but over-all well-built boy who was about twice my then scrawny frame, said choice words to me that I didn't like.

Now here's one thing I'll tell you right now about myself -- I mind my own business most of the time and I'll never intentionally try to personally malign another individual, so if someone else feels the need to point a verbal assault in my direction, I will respond five times more ferociously.

So, having been insulted by what this kid said, I promptly inhaled the last of my pik-nik shoestring potatoes from the can and then I took the lid and flung it at his face like I was friggin Batman with a Batarang. I'm a tennis player, so my aim is pretty good and the projectile hit the bully directly on the forehead... something which he definitely did not like.

Of course, as you are probably well aware of, a lightweight tin lid isn't going to incapacitate anyone anytime soon. The infuriated bully leapt from the waist-high fence which he was behind and ran straight in my direction -- there was only about 2 yards of space between us.

Assessing the situation in my brain in slow motion, I took the most logical course of action -- I ran. 

Now most people are unaware of this, but fat people? They can actually run quite well if they want to -- and this particular kid was quite fast. Before I knew it, he had run me into a corner. In front of me was the metal fence that led to the school's exit, which was kept close until dismissal time -- It was only 9:30 AM. 

So there I was; an impassable fence in front of me, and a raging bully charging in fast right behind me... what could I do in that situation? What would you do?

Well, in my case, a switch just sort of flipped inside of me and I placed my left foot into the wall and used that to kick off and charge straight back at the bully -- he wasn't expecting this, of course. Basically, I ran myself into a corner and then decided to just attack my bully instead of waiting to be pounded into the ground.

I lashed out at him with a flying punch, which he had to cover up to defend -- but he was so much stronger than me that even though he just deflected my strike, he sent my flying back at least a meter. Gathering my footing, I charged at him again. This time, he met my attack with a counterpunch right at my face. Of course, I was so committed to attacking that my momentum actually pushed him back. I also landed a good one right on his forehead. Then again, with a simple shove, he sent me flying back. 

This sort of pattern continued for a while, with me continuously charging at him and being sent flying back every time -- but before I knew it, I was actually holding my own. I was fighting back against a much bigger, much stronger kid and I wasn't actually getting hurt that much.

About three minutes into the fight, a security guard came up from behind the fence and broke us apart.

He told the other kid in our Hiligaynon: Na ano ka man? Kadako dako simo ya! Basi mapatay mo ni sa! (What's up with you? You're so big, you could kill him!"
While he told me: Ikaw man ya? Ka isog isog simo! (As for you! You're too brave for your own good!)

Anyway, the fight ended with both of us suffering a cut or two on the lips, but none the worse for wear. From that point on, my bully and I became sort of frenemies, but we'd actually become pretty good friends by the time we both graduated from sixth grade and went our separate ways on different high schools.

It's kinda amusing, because my most vivid memories of my classmates are the times when I was having a good old fistfight with one of them.

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