I never wanted to play ball or be rowdy out on the playground like the other boys, but in order to try to avoid being made fun of, I made friends with some handicapped kids my age, who were in the special education class, but still had recess with us. I would bounce a ball with them, or just sit and talk to them to have an excuse not to go be “one of the boys”. Sometimes, we would make ourselves useful by holding the jumprope for the girls to jump. It made them laugh when suddenly we would switch to “hot peppers” on the girls, and they couldn’t keep up with us sneaky boys!
Several years later, when one of my “special” friends passed away, his mother had me as one of his pall bearers because I was one of the true friends he had ever had. It was strange participating in the funeral of someone just barely a teenager, and so sad.
Under pressure from my dad to be more manly and like a boy is supposed to be, I did sign up for Little League baseball one year. I hated everything about it. I wasn’t any good at it, and got stuck out in center field where the ball NEVER got hit, because we were so young, no one could hit it that far. So I’d just stand out there and bake. Our coach was really a heartless ass too, which didn’t help any. He did his best to bully us and taunt and tease us to toughen us up, but on me, it had the opposite effect. I just wanted to quit!
One game day, when the temperature was hovering around 100F degrees, our mother’s had brought a big cooler full of ice water to keep us hydrated, but when it was time for a break and we all headed over to where the mothers had setup the water cooler, the coach went over and DUMPED IT OUT ON THE GROUND and said we were being wimps and didn’t deserve cold water, and insisted that we had to drink the hot water out of the hot fountain attached to the hot brick building. That was the final straw, and since he had also pissed off our moms, mine included, I was finally allowed to quit like I wanted to.
I was always an active member of the Cub Scouts, and later, of the Boy Scouts. I got all of my merit badges and was real happy that my mom and the mom of one of my best friends were our den mothers. So their presence kind of kept the teasing to a minimum. At least that was the case in Cub Scouts. Boy Scouts was a different story! When I was carted off to Boy Scout camp for a week, it was one of the worst weeks of my childhood that I can remember. My mom had bought me some new shoes to wear to camp which wasn’t the best idea. We had to do so much walking around and hiking, that the 2nd day I was there, I had a big blister on my achilles heel of my foot. I went to the nurse, but he just put a bandaid on it and told me it would be all right. The next day, more hiking, and more rubbing of my shoes, and the blister was deeper. I was limping by that time, but was accused of just being a wimp so I could go home.
We were sleeping in tents, with 2 of us per tent, and the 3rd night we were there, as we were trying to go to sleep, we heard a ruckus outside our tent, and peeked outside and saw a bunch of older boys dragging the boys in the tent next to ours out of their tent and down towards the lake. By the bright moonlight, we could hear them kicking and screaming, and struggling, and crying, and we were scared to death that we were going to be next! We were shivering in our tent from fear. Then we heard a big splash of water and laughing. We just got back into our sleeping bags and pretended we were sound asleep, and didn’t get bothered. The next morning, both boys’ underwear had been run up the flagpole and they had been thrown into the lake naked by the older boys. We realized how close it came to being US who had been stripped naked and thrown in the lake, and I knew it was time for me to go home! My blister was now so bad that it was bleeding through my sock and I could hardly walk. Since it was parent’s day, when my mom and dad came to visit, I showed them my blister and was immediately paroled from the prison camp, and the scoutmasters were yelled at by my parents because the blister had worn through all 3 layers of skin and was very serious and starting to be infected.
I just knew that if I hadn’t gone home, the next night it would have been my underwear up that flagpole!
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