If I don’t count the Great Elementary School Riot, I’ve been in one fight in my life. Let me explain. No, there’s no time for that, let me sum up. I have a vague memory of a massive park riot playing out among a large group of elementary school kids. I was one of those kids.

The facts were these: once a year our school took a field trip to spend the day at Indian Mary Park. Not sure why I remember that, but I do. All I remember is that we were free to roam and play throughout the park. Since this was long before iPhones, we were fully capable of creating our own fun and not having it spoon-fed to us through a screen. Imagine that.

How it started, I don’t know. It was probably a kick-ball game gone wrong. All I remember is there were two sides to this riot, and it was a bunch of kids beating, tackling, and kicking other kids. There were no weapons, probably no fists, and definitely no shoes. Heck, I don’t even remember anyone actually getting hurt. I do remember my team winning, though.

Fight the Future

Alas, as grade school faded into my past, I hung up my bare feet, flat palms, and my incredible ability to chase someone running away from me, and swore off rioting forever. I’m proud to say that I have never since been involved in a riot, which (sadly) is pretty hard for most Americans to say these days.

But I did get into a fight once.

Let me set the stage. I skipped 8th grade. Which means I was a young Freshman in high school. Strangely enough, the very next year, I was also a young Sophomore. It wasn’t odd for incoming freshmen to be a year or more older than me. And bigger. Much bigger.

To give you an idea of the age discrepancy, when I was a senior, a sophomore classmate of mine had found an old kindergarten class picture. To her surprise, we were both in the same kindergarten class. What surprised her even more, was finding out she was slightly older than me. Turns out, while I skipped a grade, she was held back somewhere along the way. A not uncommon occurrence back then.

Stoney, not Stoner

Back to my one-and-only high school fight. It was my sophomore year which pretty much meant I was still the youngest kid at the school. Now let me just shock you here for a second: I was not one of the popular kids. Nor did I have a “group”. I did have a few “friends” I hung with but that was almost by default. I only remember getting along with one of them.

If I was to recount one of the weirdest phenomena of my high school experience it’s that all the stoner guy’s girlfriends thought I was cool. Not sure why, but it made the stoner guys hate me all the more. It probably didn’t help that I had the cool name but didn’t do the drugs to deserve it.

You may see the storm brewing. While I was rarely ever bullied, I was picked on. Maybe that’s a distinction without a difference, I don’t know. But for the most part, I held my own.

Dear John, You’re a Dick

Along comes John Brehm. I was a sophomore and he was a senior-aged freshman. He wasn’t one of the stoner class, but as a football jock in a hick town, there’s hardly a distinction. The jocks just dressed better.

John took a disliking to me. I’m not sure why, but, when you’re a kid named after a toilet, I can see some underlying issues there. For whatever reason, John was always trying to goad me into a fight, without outright provoking it. You know how bullies do, they hide behind “oops, sorry” because they are not man enough to own up to their own insecurities.

This provocation went on for weeks and I did a fair job of ignoring it. Then one day I had had enough. I was walking down the hall after class and a book hit me in the back of the head. I’m not even sure who did it, but when I turned around I faced John–a good foot taller than me–and his entourage.

Using my turning momentum, I lifted my knee and connected it into John’s sensitive area.

Wrestle Like a Man

I don’t remember much else. We spilled out into the main hallway, I was slammed into a locker and then body-slammed into the ground. I don’t think I ever threw a punch, and it wasn’t long before a teacher pulled us apart.

Days after the fight, some of the jocks tried to belittle me for going for the groin–a girly move if there ever was one. But the overall consensus was that a knee to the groin was my best play, considering our size differences. Strangely enough, I don’t remember John ever bothering me again.

While the groin shot didn’t quite give me the advantage over John, but it did level the playing field a bit. Had I threw a punch, I probably would have gotten the beat down. If you ask me, body-slamming me to wrestle on the ground was the weaker move. But I do have to admit that being slammed to the ground caused me the most physical pain of the entire fight. I landed right on the folded-up butterfly knife in my back pocket.